Behind the brand: premium spirits

Ian Macleod Distillers’ Neil Boyd reflects on 2017 and shares with SLTN his expectations and insights for the year ahead

Neil Boyd
Neil Boyd of Ian Macleod Distillers.

AS 2017 draws to a close, it’s certainly been a bumper year for the premium spirits category – with many producers making the most of the increased demand from consumers who have developed a taste for high-end serves.

Neil Boyd, commercial director at Ian Macleod Distillers, the firm behind Glengoyne and Tamdhu whiskies and Edinburgh Gin, has shared his views with SLTN on category performance, trends, and what lies ahead for Ian Macleod’s brands and the market generally in 2018.

• As we close out 2017, how are your premium spirits brands performing in Scottish pubs and bars?

The portfolio is growing in line with the category across all our single malt brands, while Edinburgh Gin is growing ahead of category – and expectations.

• The number of premium spirits brands in Scotland continues to grow – from malt whisky to craft gin and even tequila. Do you expect this level of growth to continue at current levels, or slow throughout 2018?

Yes, we see this growth continuing across the premium spirits brands, not just in Scotland.

The UK gin boom is predicted to continue for at least three to five years, which is good news for Scotland; it produces 70% of the UK’s gin.

Premiumisation doesn’t look like it will be slowing down either, and consumers are continuing to show interest in the locality, provenance and authenticity of what they are drinking – and that applies to all craft spirits.

• What trends do you foresee in 2018?

One trend we see continuing is the growth in flavoured and coloured gins, and we plan to continue to grow our range in line with this trend in 2018.

• What on-trade marketing activity do you have planned for 2018?

Following the success of 2017’s Spirit of the Festival sponsorship programme, we will be continuing with this activity. In 2017, that involved things like the Art and Science of Gin – a one of a kind show which explored the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the gin making process.

We also have our Edinburgh Gin ambassadors, who will be working with the trade and rolling out our tasting and gin making experience programme to educate the bartenders in the art of Edinburgh Gin, as well as understanding our brand credentials.

• Will you be launching any new brands or variants in the course of 2018? Can you provide any details at this point?

We are looking forward to giving more focus to our newly rebranded Atlantico premium rum range. In 2018, we will also be rolling out our new Pomegranate and Rose Fruit Gin Liqueur, which launched exclusively into John Lewis in October.

We do have a lot more innovation to come and so 2018 will be an exciting year for us.