The category that shall not grow old

What can bars expect to see from the evergreen distillate going forward?

IT’S no exaggeration to say the gin craze of recent years has been meteoric in scope.

So much so that it takes a fairly decent memory to remember the start of the metamorphosis the category has gone through over the last decade and continues to go through to this day.

The health of the distillate in the on-trade was reinforced in this year’s CGA Top Brands report, which showed an increase in sales from £77.6 million in 2017 to £97.3m this year in pubs and bars.

Lara Williams, Stirling Gin’s marketing and events manager, doesn’t expect to see any dip in the spirit’s prevalence.

“It would be difficult to overstate the growth of gin over this year,” she said.

“More and more brands are popping up and bars are meeting these producers halfway by constantly evolving and catering their menus to gin.

“There is some doubt as to whether gin will continue to grow at the same pace next year but it is unlikely to see a significant downturn – I’d say we can expect to keep seeing gin as the ruler of the bar.”

Lindsay Blair, global brand ambassador at Daffy’s Gin, supported that assertion, adding that flavoured gins were aiding the spirit’s development.

She said: “Gin has showed no signs of slowing down as consumers continue to be enamoured with the category.

“The demand for flavoured gins has provided brands with a great opportunity to create limited editions, incorporating seasonal flavours.”

And the need to stock a range of flavoured gins is becoming increasingly important for bars looking to offer variety in their range, according to Blair.

She said: “Operators should consider stocking gins from each category: London Dry, Old Tom, new world, genever etc., in order to provide an extensive range for customers.

“As flavoured gins are increasingly popular with consumers operators should carry a range of flavours and consider rotating these seasonally.

“Keep a look out for brands releasing limited editions which may not be available via the usual routes to market for customers.”

With so many gins for operators to choose from, Williams of Stirling Gin also advised operators to offer genuine choice through contrasting styles and expressions.

“There is little point in stocking ten different gins that all take the same or very similar tonic and garnish,” she said.

“The gin industry has proven that people are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to enjoy their spirits.

“Licensees should consider a variety of garnishes that complement the spicy, floral, sweet, herbal or citrus notes in their gin.

“Also consider smaller brand tonics and soft drinks to introduce some extra flavour and provenance to their mixers and always look for interesting ways to serve their selections, be that with tasting flights or creatively branded glassware.”

Provenance is set to remain a factor for Scottish gin consumers and operators should look to offer this in their gantry, according to Stephen Kemp, managing director of Orkney Distilling, makers of Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin.

“Naturally, quality and provenance should be key when choosing products,” he said.

“Licensees should seek out brands with great local stories to tell, who are doing work and employing people and supply chains within their respective local, Scottish communities.

“With so many small, quality-focused craft producers in Scotland, we’ve never been in a better position to transfer this into a quality experience for the consumers.”

There is no great change expected at the top of the tree in terms of serves in the future, as the G&T (and different incarnations of it) continue to reign supreme in outlets. However, gin cocktails are predicted to gain more ground amongst connoisseurs going forward.

“For us the classic G&T is still king,” said Niall Macalister Hall, managing director of Beinn an Tuirc.

“The new tonics on the market are testament to this, giving the consumer greater choice.”

Joanne Motion, UK customer marketing manager at Ian Macleod Distillers, maker of Edinburgh Gin, echoed that view.

She said: “The G&T is a classic serve that stands the test of time, and offers consumers the chance to taste gin’s multiple and varied flavour notes in a simple pour.

“We don’t see the popularity of the classic G&T decreasing anytime soon but there are other serves gathering pace as gin drinkers diversify.

“We have seen that vintage, prohibition-era cocktails are proving popular – think Negronis, Martinis and Gimlets.”