Gin Spin: July
Gin Foundry takes a keen-eyed look at industry news to bring you a snapshot of the best bits the last month has had to offer.
Premium mixer maker Fever-Tree hit the headlines once again for its breakneck growth. The firm registered a sales increase of 77% in the first half of 2017, reaching somewhat dizzying highs once more. The biggest drive came from the UK, though other markets are making their mark.
Warrillow commented “We achieved growth in all our regions, driven by further distribution gains and underlying rate of sales growth as the two key trends of premiumisation and mixability continue to gather pace globally.”
It’s great to see that the trend for a decent G&T is starting to take hold across Europe, with sales in the region growing 64%. It shows that people are willing to pay the premium for quality and suggests an ever-expanding audience for not just Tonic, but for its eternal partner, Gin.
For context on the shear scale of it – when Fever-Tree floated at 134p a share in November 2014 it was valued at £154m. Less than three years later and it’s now worth £2.4bn. With considerable demand from institutions both in the UK and US for sizeable blocks of Fever-Tree shares, Chief Tim Warrillow recently took the decision to provide further liquidity and sold 1.5m shares. At £19.25 each. You do the math on how bubbly that account now looks!
Franklin, My Dear…
Franklin & Sons released a study that seems to verify much of the growth mentioned above. According to their infographic – which looked at home drinking habits in the UK – one in three drinkers now insists on buying premium mixers, with 29% of consumers claiming to spend £10 per month on this indulgent habit.
The study revealed that the typical British home has a drinks cabinet worth £206.85, with an average monthly booze spend of £113.79 per household. The report also points to an ongoing trend towards big nights in, saying that the UK’s growing cocktail culture seems “to have made drinkers more discerning in their home-drinking and home-entertaining choices.”
Home-based hosting will continue to grow, which can only be good news for gin makers, as 40% of the 2,000 respondents claimed to have a bottle in their cabinets.
Waitrose reported that sales of local and artisan gin have grown 50% over the past year, with spend in the category overtaking whisky for the first time. The upmarket supermarket chain has a long history of supporting small suppliers and sells over 2,500 locally sourced products in its stores.
Waitrose spirit buyer John Vine said: “Gins from local and regional distilleries have become particularly popular for several reasons. There’s been a shift towards people sipping the spirit before their meal as an aperitif, so artisan gins, which tend to have been infused with unique flavours, really appeal for this purpose. Our customers are also looking for local gins in a bid to support smaller suppliers.”
Waitrose’s support for local has given many newbie brands a helping hand at the start and no doubt they’ve been spurred on by the meteoric in-store success of Warner Edwards, whose Rhubarb Gin is enjoying continued blistering growth and is stocked in 300 of their shops. The selections they make and the booze on their shelves shows that they well and truly have their fingers on the pulse, and the sheer volume they’re pushing shows that the Gin boom still shows no signs at all of slowing in 2017.
The Eden (Mill) Project
St Andrew’s based distillery Eden Mill has signed a £1.1m deal with low-priced supermarket chain Aldi. In the deal, three varieties of the firms Botanical Project range (Blueberry & Vanilla Gin, Chilli & Ginger Gin and Traditional Batch Gin), will be available across all 74 Scottish Aldi stores at £19.99 each. The distillery’s Mixology Project range will also be available as a ‘special buy.’
Aldi’s Buying Director for Scotland, Graham Nicholson said: “Sourcing the best-quality Scottish products will always be one of our biggest priorities and we’re focused on increasing our range of Scottish products from 350 to 400 over the next two years.”
That step into Craft Gin is a huge one for Aldi to take, and for many reasons. The supermarket giant is known for its low prices, but small-batch gin comes at a cost – clearly the firm knows that its consumers, though savvy, are willing to spend when the time is right.
It also shows a great faith in the continued growth of Gin as a category, no doubt helped along by the success of Aldi’s very own Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin, which once again swept the board at the International Wine and Spirits Competition, taking home Gold despite its £9.97 price tag. Back in March we discussed the potential dangers of supermarket-own brands cannibalising craft sales, especially when their PR approach is blatantly derogatory to those on the more premium end of the spectrum.
When we did the maths, it seemed that Oliver Cromwell was being made for less than £1.50 per bottle. That’s a cost craft makers physically cannot work with, yet in reality it is the premium craft brands (and the humans behind them) that have helped push the category, elevating gin to the behemoth spirit it is today. This deal, perhaps unconsciously, is Aldi’s way of giving back to the craft industry and restoring some form of equilibrium… well, probably not, but Oliver Cromwell Gin has bought them endless PR and column inches because people are and were already talking about Gin, so at least they are supporting the area of industry that has given them the opportunity for such exposure.
Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
We’ve reported on Spanish distillery Santamnía’s crowdfunding campaign over the past couple of months, but it finally reached its end in July, closing at an astonishing £1,135,870. The 827 investors involved have taken 14% of the company’s equity between them, and the money raised will see a new distillery (with greater capacity) built.
We’re thrilled for Santamanía – the sum and the amount of investors shows huge faith in their ability and in Gin as a category. It also proves that there is both room and aspiration for premium gins in Spain, where the spirit traditionally pours very cheaply… Keep your eyes peeled on Madrid folks, change is in the air!
New Releases! New Releases! New Releases!
The first in the line-up is a strange one: Herbie Virgin claims to be the first non-alcoholic gin in the world. The Danish drink is made on the exact same stills that produce Herbie Gin, using all of the botanicals, but none of the booze.
Herbie Co-owner Anders Bilgram said there was a big market for alcohol free alternatives for those who don’t want to drink, or who want to drink less. This conscious consumption (or lack thereof) is demonstrative of a movement towards healthier lifestyles. Even London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Nigh Czar Amy Lamé are working on making night life a lot more entertaining for those who choose not to imbibe, so if the capital city can make room for non-drinkers, there’s room for Gin to be more accommodating. Let just all forget about the oxymoron that is having a “gin” at 0% ABV for a bit eh..?
Talking of inclusivity… another release this month was Brighton Gin’s Pride edition. There are just 400 of the beautiful rainbow clad bottlings, which were released to celebrate Brighton Pride, taking place from Friday 4th to Sunday 6th August. Ten percent of all sales will be going to The Rainbow Fund, a Brighton & Hove organisation that supports LGBT and HIV/AIDS organisation.
Another limited edition comes from Pickering’s, which is celebrating both Edinburgh Fringe’s 70th birthday AND the 70th anniversary of a distiller scribbling down his nine botanical gin recipe in Bombay – one which was passed on to Marcus Pickering by a friend of his late father and which formed the inspiration for his gin range. Pickering’s Original 1947 will be a one-off run of 650 bottles, made exactly to the old Bombay recipe. If the fringe connection wasn’t enough, just to make sure you’ve heard about the Scottishness of the brand loud and clear (boy do they they beat that drum loudly), they’ve also released a tartan clad bottle too.
Celebrating four years as a Ginmaker this week, Tarquin has spoilt his drinkers with yet another new gin, and this one is a permanent addition to the roster. Tarquin’s Brilliant British Blackberry Gin was designed to capture the essence of the Cornish sunshine and each bottle brims with wild local berries and Cornish honey.
Meanwhile from across the world, images have finally arrived of the incoming Roku Gin – one of a handful of Japanese gins to be launching an assault on the category this year. Let’s just say us bottle coddlers will be adding it to the shelves…
In other news – Gordon’s is tapping into the Instagram crowd with a fruity Pink Gink. Gordon’s Premium Pink Distilled Gin is inspired by a recipe from the 1880s and splices a juniper-y gin taste with strawberries and raspberries. It’s getting a lot of coverage, so they’ve certainly caught attention with it. Perhaps the fruity combo will be the one that unlocks it all for the Heritage brand, as their Cucumber and Elderflower variants in recent years seemed to enjoy a small amount of interest before seemingly falling off the radar.
Not a release, as such, but worthy of celebration none the less, Adnams has finally updated the look (and added a Triple Malt tag) for its First Rate Gin. The new bottle, created by CookChick Design, is a real step up, with beautiful foiling and cute, seaside sketches giving a hint of Adnams’ coastal home. The gin, too, has undergone a minor refresh, with the ABV dropping three percent to 45. The design better represents the brand’s premium nature and gives the gin a chance to stand out in a market that is much, much busier than when it first emerged.
And if you like to combine all of your vices, Four Pillars has teamed up with London chocolatier Paul A. Young for his Summer Collection, a superbly tasty selection of chocolates designed to complement the botanicals within the Australian gin. Cucumber, pink grapefruit, coriander seed oil and 64% Madagascan Dark Chocolate combine in a mouth-wateringly sweet, soft and truffle-y chocolate. Life changing. You can find them in any of Paul’s London shops. You should seek them out, really…
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