Vodka and gin continue to dominate spirits sales in Scotland’s pubs

THE two biggest spirits categories in Scottish premises, vodka and gin, continued to evolve in 2022 as brand owners looked to attract and hold onto spirits drinkers.

CGA reports that vodka was worth £228 million in sales through Scotland’s bars, pubs and restaurants between 2021 and 2022, with gin accounting for £140m of sales.

Smirnoff remains Scotland’s biggest-selling vodka brand, with Absolut in second place followed by Ciroc, Grey Goose and Glen’s.

It’s been a busy year for vodka, with each of the big players investing in their brands.
Recent developments include Smirnoff extending its flavoured vodka range with the launch of Smirnoff Cherry Drop, while Ciroc expanded its own range with products including Ciroc Passion and Ciroc Summer Citrus.

Absolut, meanwhile, has launched a high-profile new marketing campaign fronted by pop star Olly Alexander.

Titled The Absolut Choir, the campaign sees Absolut tackling a number of issues including body positivity, disability awareness and equal rights.

And Scottish vodka giant Glen’s has closed out the year with what parent company Loch Lomond Group describes as its biggest packaging overhaul in over eight years.

The company’s chief marketing officer, John Grieveson, said the idea behind the redesign was to create “a bolder brand with better standout”.

“We expect to see a continued increase in demand for brands that can offer quality at affordable prices and so we felt it was the perfect opportunity for us to refresh our branding to help ensure our packaging matches our product offering,” said Grieveson.

On the gin side of the fence Diageo continues to dominate the top of the category, with Gordon’s and Tanqueray the first and second biggest brands in the Scottish market.

Pernod Ricard’s Beefeater brand is in third place, followed by Bacardi-owned Bombay Sapphire and Hendricks, the craft gin brand owned by Scottish drinks company William Grant & Sons.

As with vodka, innovation in the gin category has largely focused on fruit flavours, with examples including the new Tropical Passionfruit flavour of Gordon’s, a Rhubarb and Cranberry variant for Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire’s Citron Pressé.

The market for flavoured spirits is said to be exploding, with Diageo stating that sales of tropical flavoured spirits have grown by nearly 150% in the past year.

That was further reinforced by Pernod Ricard when the company’s on-trade channel director, James Bremner, said flavoured gins now account for 17% of the overall category.

Carlo Valente, director of independent Scottish producer House of Boe, said the company is well positioned to capitalise on this growing demand for flavoured spirits moving forward.
The company, which produces a range of flavoured gins and vodkas, recently opened its first brand home in South Queensferry.

House of Boe said that it is on target to reach £10m in sales this year, with the on-trade accounting for a sizeable share of that revenue.

“Along with others in the drinks trade we were impacted by the closure of bars, pubs and other venues during the pandemic, but we continued to invest into our business through difficult trading conditions,” said Valente.

“We’re on track to meet our sales targets for next year and have many more exciting developments in the pipeline.”

Quality and value are said to be among the most important considerations for gin customers when they are visiting the on-trade, with Johna Penman of Ian Macleod Distillers, owner of Scottish gin brand Edinburgh Gin, telling SLTN earlier this year that value “is extremely important to the consumer, especially at a time when disposable income is squeezed”.

There were plenty of developments this year, from brands including Glen’s and Gordon’s.