Gin goes global in duty free

25 May, 2018


An increasing number of European craft gins are also finding their way into travel retail. A case in point is Bareksten gin, which is made in the Norwegian town of Bergen. The distillery started production in the third quarter of 2016, selling 70,000 bottles last year. Available in 15 markets currently, distribution is set to pass 20 countries in the next few months, according to brand founder Stig Bareksten.

“With regards to travel retail, we are present in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Austria and onboard some cruise lines,” he says. “In Norway, the duty free market is important because of the [domestic] monopoly and taxes on alcohol. Duty free can be a door-opener for new customers because they get more for less and therefore they can be more willing to try new products.”

Estonian firm AS Liviko is also finding success with its Crafter’s gin line, gaining a major listing with Gebr Heinemann in April at Frankfurt, Hamburg and Moscow Sheremetyevo airports in April. Meanwhile, in Scandinavia, the brand is already with Tallink, the largest ferry and cruise line operating in the Baltic, as well as other leading lines such as Viking Lines.

Commenting on Crafter’s rapid progress in Scandinavian travel retail, Liviko export marketing manager Anna-Kai Törs says: “Crafter’s has been available for a relatively short time, but has still gained good feedback in terms of sales. For premium gins, it´s all about inspiring the consumer through the look of the bottle, explaining the contents, ingredients and, if possible, sampling perfect serve cocktails. You need to have good presentation, visibility and professional sampling staff.”


Liviko is also lining up a new Crafter’s line extension called Crafter’s Aromatic Gin, which turns pink in the glass when tonic water is added, for duty free later in 2018. Already at Estonia’s Tallinn airport, the new product, Törs says, will be available onboard Scandinavian ferries in the coming months.

In the UK, Halewood Wines & Spirits has also recorded outstanding results in travel retail, its portfolio boasting Whitley Neill, an African-inspired gin; organic Liverpool gin; Square Mile, produced by the City of London Distillery; and Marylebone, a London Dry inspired by the pleasure gardens of Georgian London and created by Johnny Neill, the founder of Whitley Neill.

Whitley Neill is Halewood’s flagship duty free brand and has expanded by 500% in the channel in the past year, according to managing director Simon Roffe. “The brand is now widely available across the UK and European duty free channels. Key successes include business with Gebr Heinemann, Lagardère UK, Tallink Silja and Aer Rianta, among others.

“Looking forward to summer 2018, the expansion of the brand will continue with new exposure on airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, SAS, Thomas Cook, Easyjet, Flybe and more,” he adds. “In addition, Whitley Neill will be launched into Asia Pacific duty free at TFWA Singapore and, in advance of our presence at the Summit of the Americas, we have received the first orders from several US duty free operators to go alongside our established business on the Canadian border.”

Roffe believes the boom in gin in travel retail is being driven by travellers of “all ages and nationalities” looking for something different to what can be found on the high street. “The gin festival concept, craft gin clubs, etc, have encouraged traditional gin buyers to trade up to craft and local gin brands, which bring heritage and a sense of place to the offer.

“In addition, the emergence of flavoured gins, such as our Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger, Quince, Raspberry and Blood Orange gins, has encouraged a much broader group of consumers to venture into the category,” he argues. “Strong evidence from domestic market sales illustrates that younger, often female shoppers are being tempted by the concept of flavoured gin.”

In all the excitement of the craft gin movement, and the undoubted growth of the category in European duty free, it’s worth noting that gin facings in duty free stores in other parts of the world are still small and dominated by a few household names. This state of affairs is set to change though, according to Halewood’s Roffe. “The gin craze which has burst on to the European scene has yet to take off in some other regions, many of which are still dominated by traditional categories. The opportunity for retailers to use the extended range of gin brands to attract new shoppers is one which should not be underestimated.”


Nick Strangeway

Bottled cocktails: The dos and don'ts

Pre-made cocktails have always carried a stigma, which I find odd. The romance of watching bartenders make drinks from scratch left pre-batched cocktails feeling cheap to many consumers, but lockdowns have forced this attitude to change.