Hooray for Gin!

Gin is the golden child in the spirits category lately, with sales growth extremely healthy in the last few years in the UK as well as other markets such as Spain and the US. Annual gin sales rose 16% in the UK last year, leading the drink industry to declare 2016 the “year of gin”*.

But not just any old gin, we are talking premium gin, where many bottles cost over £40. And alongside it, Fever-Tree tonic has capitalised on this gin craze despite costing almost three times more than the previous default tonic brand Schweppes.

Who would have predicted ten years ago that I would be excited about taking friends to a new ‘gin bar’ in Tunbridge Wells that sells 55 different gins and where the bar people really know about the gins and what they mix best with?! Actually, maybe the Tunbridge Wells bit is more surprising than the gin bar, but that’s another story!

What can other categories learn from this resurgence of gin?

1 / Move fast

The market has responded relatively quickly to demand with many new distilleries popping up all over the country. In 2010, there were only 116 distilleries in the UK, according to HM Revenue & Customs, but about 100 have opened in the past two years alone*.

2 / Trade on your provenance

Local gins are becoming popular in their surrounding area, which fits with the trend for buying local and knowing where things come from.

3 / Prioritise quality over volume

The focus for gin has been on quality rather than quantity (and Fever-Tree has capitalised on this as well). It’s about creating a drink to be savoured with different extras rather than downing shots!

4 / Create new experiences

New brands have successfully challenged preconceptions about the old school ‘gin and tonic’ and made gin much more enticing and interesting. New flavours, mixers and accompaniments mean gin is often now drunk in more of a cocktail form than just with tonic and lemon.

5 / Drive word of mouth with your story

Bar people are now talking passionately about gin, which rubs off on consumers. Real, personal and relevant stories help others become advocates of your category!

After my recent holiday in Spain, where the barman in a small hotel served me a strawberry gin with lemonade and slices of plum in a goldfish-bowl style glass, I suspect the Spanish have been treating gin in this way for years. But ssshhh, us Brits like to believe we have started these trends!

*Source: Guardian 8 December 2016