Opening up gin to the masses

Flavoured gins and liqueurs are attracting new consumer

Some consider flavoured gins and liqueurs to be more accessible than traditional gin

VERSATILITY and choice have been at the heart of the recent gin boom.

The breadth of styles and flavours now on the market has meant that even those consumers who didn’t previously drink gin have found something that appeals to them.

One of the ways the category has expanded in the past couple of years has been through the introduction of sweeter, fruit-flavoured gins and liqueurs, providing an alternative to a spirit that is often heavier in herbaceous, citrus or floral flavours.

“Flavoured gins are arguably responsible, in part, for the rise of gin in the UK,” said Louise Hamill, communications manager at Pickering’s Gin.

“Juniper as a botanical is a bit of an acquired taste. Dense pine and spice appeals to many, but for those new to the category flavoured gins make for the perfect entry point.

“From there they can acquaint themselves with complex botanicals and flavours which may ultimately lead them to loving good old fashioned London Dry gins.”

Kim Cameron, founder of Gin Bothy, agreed.

She reckoned Gin Bothy’s range of liqueurs “helps customers to start their gin journey and they then move with their [more experienced] palate into the classic gins”.

Flavoured gins are also attracting consumers from other drinks categories, according to Celeste McGinn, of recently-launched gin brand McGin.

She said: “Flavoured gins are becoming more popular with people who normally wouldn’t drink gin – Prosecco and cocktail drinkers are converting to gin.”

Given that they can be a ‘stepping stone’ into the gin category for some consumers, it’s probably no surprise that flavoured gins and liqueurs are said to be more popular with younger consumers.

“What we know is that flavoured gin drinkers are in general younger than London Dry gin drinkers,” said Joanne Motion, UK customer marketing manager at Ian Macleod Distillers, the firm behind Edinburgh Gin.

Flavoured gins are becoming more popular with Prosecco and cocktail drinkers.

She added that a good range should consist of both flavoured London Dry gins and fruit gin liqueurs, as both products are distinctive.

The range, said Motion, should aim to satisfy three important trends in the gin market: quality, incorporating seasonally-appropriate flavours; variety, including a diverse range of serves; and moderation, catering to a desire for lower ABV products.

Provenance should also be considered, advised Lara Williams of Stirling Gin.

She said: “A good range would be similar to any good non-flavoured gin range – a good balance between sweet, citrus, spicy, herbal and floral styles.

“A variety of originating countries is also suggested as flavour will differ depending on where in the world the gin is from.”

And stocking products that offer a point of difference to competitors is another important consideration, according to McQueen Gin co-founder, Vicky McQueen.

“It can be easy to get a bit too excited and just grab everything and anything that seems a bit different,” said McQueen.

“Look for variety, something that the other operators in your area might overlook that could set you apart from the competition.

“A good flavoured gin range should provide enough different variations to accommodate the public’s varying and evolving tastes, while the brands used should have the accreditations and back-up to show that their flavoured options are what people want. If you can get all of that, then you’re on to a winner.”

Similarly, thought must be given to which mixers are paired with flavoured gins and liqueurs, as picking the right match can be trickier than with London Dry gin, said firms.

“Operators will need to look carefully at their mixer range when pairing with flavoured gins,” said Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, distributor of gin brand The King of Soho.

“Sparkling raspberry, lemon and grapefruit can be a better match than standard tonic with some flavoured gins, For garnishes, red fruit such as berries and pink grapefruit should be offered alongside the classic lemon and lime wedge.”

Fentimans marketing director, Andrew Jackson, agreed.

He said: “When choosing tonics/mixers to complement flavoured gins, operators must ensure that the mixer doesn’t overshadow the spirit, but instead enhances the existing flavour and bring it to life a little more.”