Same spirit, new priorities

Environmental and health concerns now a bigger factor

PROVENANCE, choice and sustainability are three of the factors that are likely to influence people’s gin-buying decisions this year, according to brand owners and distributors.

While drinks companies were confident that the category has remained strong in the wake of lockdowns and trading restrictions, they said many pub and bar customers have returned to venues with new priorities and requirements.

“A year and a half of COVID-19 and lockdowns reconnected many people with their surroundings and heightened their awareness of the environmental impacts of their behaviour,” said Fentimans marketing manager, Nigel Tarn.

“This growing awareness of sustainability is now changing the attitudes of consumers to the drinks sector, with nearly half (46%) saying they think it is extremely or very important for brands to use environmentally friendly ingredients and packaging.”

That was echoed by Jo Jacobius of Dunnet Bay Distillers, the producer of Rock Rose Gin, who said customers are “increasingly expressing an interest in sustainability”.

“Make sure that your bar team knows not just about the botanicals which differentiate each gin but how they are made too,” she said.

And Mike Hayward, co-founder of The Glasgow Distillery – producer of Makar Gin – said gin drinkers are “more than ever looking towards spirits that exhibit a strong demonstration of transparency and authenticity, which are made to the highest standard”.

That transparency can be particularly important to those customers that may have become more health-conscious in the course of the pandemic, according to Craig Chapman of Amber Beverage UK, the company behind gin brand Puerto De Indias.

Chapman said interest in ingredients had increased “significantly” as people take a closer look at the food and drink they are consuming.

“This is a very important factor that the hospitality industry should be taking into consideration when reviewing their gin portfolio,” he said.

Similarly, the growing importance of health to many on-trade customers could help drive demand for alcohol-free gin variants.

Jennifer Runciman, head of category development for the on-trade at Diageo GB, said establishing a feeling of “inclusivity” and providing customers choice is important in any gin range.

“Therefore stocking a few no and lower (alcohol) options will be key to catering to this demand,” said Runciman.

“Operators can leverage well-known alcohol brands and stock their non-alcoholic counterparts to encourage people to enter the category.”

Making customers feel welcome isn’t just about ranging.

Johna Penman, UK trade and consumer marketing director at Ian Macleod Distillers, parent company of Edinburgh Gin, said customers in general now “expect to be treated as individuals, rather than numbers”.

“This means personalisation is increasingly not just a nice surprise – it’s an expected part of a hospitality visit,” said Penman.

Quoting figures from research company CGA Penman added that there are now several forms of personalisation customers expect in premises, including tailored discounts and deals, personalised loyalty schemes and “VIP perks” such as the ability to sit at a favourite table or recognition of a birthday.

More than a quarter of consumers were said to expect regular updates on things like the status and timing of orders, with around a fifth wanting tailored recommendations or “personalised menus that incorporate their favourite dishes and drinks”.


Makar Red Snapper

60ml Makar Original
120ml tomato juice
125ml freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 grinds black pepper
2 pinches celery salt
Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to taste
Shake all ingredients together with ice. Rim a highball glass with salt and pepper and fill with cubed iced. Strain into the glass.


Barra French 75

100ml Champagne
35ml Barra Atlantic Gin
15ml lemon Juice
10ml sugar syrup
Lemon twist to garnish
Pour ingredients into a small cocktail mixer (excluding the Champagne). Add cubed ice, seal and shake for 10 to 15 seconds.
Double strain into a chilled flute.
Top with Champagne, garnish with lemon twist.


Makar Dry Martini

50ml Makar Original
10ml dry vermouth
1 green olive to garnish
Half fill a mixing glass with fresh cubed ice. Pour ingredients into the glass. Stir contents together until the ice begins to reduce (approximately one minute).
Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the olive.