Good news for all the gin joints

Drinks connoisseurs are making sure that spirit’s popularity is set to last

REFRESHING, crisp and with an ever-growing variety to choose from, gin’s popularity is not astonishing. What is surprising, however, is that after an extended period of strong sales, demand for the spirit hasn’t shown signs of waning.

• With the white spirit’s boom showing no sign of abating, there remains increasing demand for premium and regional gins.

So there is still ample opportunity for licensees to further improve their gin offer – or even begin to take advantage of its vogue years.

Those in the know say that operators must understand the potency of provenance when promoting the spirit to their customers and be aware of subtle changes taking place within the category that can be taken advantage of. Producers and distributors point to an increase in the ‘premiumisation’ of the spirit – and the importance of the right selection for each outlet.

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, whose gin brands include Blackwoods, Langley’s and Brooklyn Gin, said: “The gin boom is clearly set to continue, with gin being sold by a broader range of on-trade outlets than ever, and forecasts for growth until at least 2020.

“As consumers become ever-more confident about the category, operators need to improve both the range stocked and the variety of serves on offer.”

Operators need to improve both the range stocked and the variety of serves on offer.

Halewood Wines & Spirits, the firm behind the Whitley Neill brand, supported that view, adding that gin’s continued growth can be attributed to “greater choice and variety in the category”.

Choosing what to stock from the huge range of gins now available can present challenges – and will vary from outlet to outlet. However, spirits firms say whatever the style of venue, the outlet’s clientele is a key consideration.

“We’re big believers in taking a bespoke approach,” said Will Holt of Pinkster Gin.

“What works for one outlet won’t necessarily work for another. Know your customers, what they’re happy to pay, how adventurous they are and that’s an excellent starting point.”

Andrew Richardson at Boë Superior Gin parent company VC2 Brands cautioned against ‘the more the merrier’ approach to gin ranging, saying: “Don’t stock too many, as many will just gather dust.”

As far as serves go, the G&T continues to reign supreme but it seems there is a growing thirst for alternative combinations.

Amanda Baxter at Marussia Beverages, whose gin portfolio includes Aviation, Fifty Pounds and Death’s Door, said: “Twists are welcome amongst customers.

“The Rose Garden is simply Fifty Pounds, rose lemonade and 10ml of pink grapefruit liqueur but it is different enough in taste profile and appearance to excite the audience.

The provenance of a gin is one of the key drivers for many consumers when choosing a gin.

“Death’s Door balances its three-botanical gin in a G&T with an orange slice and mint – easy additions for a pub or bar to get in and a welcome change from standard garnishes.”

It’s not just different serves and garnishes that are piquing the interest of pub customers.

Bob Fowkes, marketing director and co-founder of Brockmans Gin, said a growing number of Scottish consumers are taking an interest in the provenance of drinks.

“Scottish people are used to savouring great whiskies and so perhaps this gives them palates that appreciate other intriguing and crafted spirits,” he said.

“We foresee a continuing growth towards people showing interest in unusual and well-made super-premium gins.”
This was backed by Mike Hayward at the Glasgow Distillery Co, the firm behind Makar gin.

“Consumers are much more aware and educated about gin than ever before and the back-story to a brand coupled with the quality of the product is increasingly becoming more important,” he said.

“The provenance of a gin is one of the key drivers for many consumers when choosing a gin.”

Lindsay Blair, brand ambassador for Daffy’s Gin, said there is a real demand for local gins.

“Brands are more likely to perform better in the region in which they are produced or associated and so a gin from Ireland may be the best selling there, but not spark the interest of the Scottish consumer,” said Blair.

James Hayman of Hayman’s Gin said: “Whether Scottish brands or from elsewhere, the consumer is increasingly drawn towards those gin brands that have clear provenance stories.

“Ultimately, every great gin is about flavour but we believe that the consumer is increasingly interested in where that flavour and character comes from – and successful retailers are increasingly helping satisfy that thirst for knowledge.”