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Gin Spin: August 2019

Slingsby Gin Spirit of Harrogate Spa
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Hendrick's Kings Cross
Hendrick's ATM Event
Hendrick's phone booth
NY Distilling
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03/09/2019
Written by Gin Foundry

On the 18th April 1930, The BBC came out with the now classic line: “There is no news today.” Can you imagine such a time? Every time we turn on the news lately the UK shows scenes of itself careening down a mountain in a wheelbarrow. On fire. We wish there was no news somedays given the headlines being offered up, but that said, politics aside, it has been rather quiet on the Gin-front.

We aren’t saying that there’s no news, just a summer prorogation if you will. Still, as ever, we’re busting out the highlights reel in search for the why’s, rather than the what’s…

WSTA(AAARGH)

The WSTA released their latest Market Report at the start of August, which showed that UK Gin had reached the £3bn mark, with £2.3bn domestic sales and £700m in exports. Those are some slightly mad numbers, considering it is just one small corner of the spirits industry.

The WSTA has predicted that Gin will hit the 100m bottle barrier within the next year, and showed enormous growth both in the on trade (bar, restaurants) and the off trade (Shops, retailers). The key thing about these figures, though, is that they’ve only measured from March to March. While all looks sunny in the Gin world here, talking to brands earlier this year and over the summer, many have painted a slightly different picture. Talking to the trade, too, suggested rampant growth hasn’t been the case and the numbers in pubs, bars and restaurants was similar to last year, rather than huge increases once again.

Last year was magnificent for Gin, but we’ll have a wait on our hands to see how the smaller brands have faired in 2019. Our guess? Another stellar year, but not as well as they’d have hoped, as it’s hard to compete with a World Cup, heatwave after heatwave and no gin fatigue anywhere.

SLING US A TENNER

Just to completely contradict ourselves, Slingsby celebrated a 147% year on year increase in August, citing its flavoured expressions (of course) as a big winner. On its fourth anniversary the team also celebrated hitting the £10m mark, which is pretty good going for a (relative) newcomer in a saturated market.

Our two cents worth regarding Slingsby’s success is its dedication to consumer experience. Though their gin is contract distilled, they still have a space up in Yorkshire with which they charm, entertain and educate Gin fans. They share the love wide – helping people to find gins that they’ll like, even if they don’t fall under the Slingsby umbrella. They hustle for what they have and that’s paid off. It is admirable behaviour – we wish more were like them and we wish them luck on their road to £20m…

POP A WASH ON

It’s been relatively quiet on the Hendrick’s front these past few years, with their major set piece activities not having the bang one might expect. There have been a couple of new releases and a new distillery home, but nothing has really broken through into creating the kind of fanfare everyone expects of a cult brand like theirs. It seems like the come-back is well and truly on though and they are going back to their roots…

Hendrick’s have always known that experiential marketing is the way to implant yourself firmly in drinker’s lives. In recent years, from the Bombay Sapphire train to the Sipsmith & Gingerline Secret Soiree, immersive experiences have struck a huge chord with attendees, helping to educate about the products whilst entertaining (and feeding) them. Despite others’ successes there’s been little to note from the masters at this game, until now.

This month Hendrick’s teamed up with design agency Space to open a pop up launderette in Shoreditch. Lesley’s Launderette aimed to celebrate Hendrick’s oddness, and is just one of a number of activations set to take place as part of their ‘Portals to the Peculiar’  project.

That wasn’t all – they also had an ATM in Bermondsey that gave way to a secret bar and there’s another odd little moment coming up. This is in addition to taking over Kings Cross underground with 360 advertising that forced commuters to literally walk through a tunnel of rose scented madness. It was so cool to see them invest in this style of marketing once more and it was about time they started putting back to back activities that showcase just what they are capable of.

With Taqueray and Gordon’s promising big investments, alongside Bombay Sapphire using August to announce a $20m global campaign (led by a glass sculptor, no less), to ‘stir creativity’ it’s looking like the big guns are busting out the… big guns to claim their place at the top of the pile this year.

AUGUST’S BEST IN SHOW

There were a handful of interesting Gin releases this month. Across the pond, NYC Distilling Company hopped aboard the Pink train with Dot Parker Rose Petal Gin. This is not one of these bright, synthetic, saccharine spirits, but rather a softly hued, fruit-infused gin, with elderberries and cherries creating a soft ripple.

Victory Gin also showed that Pink doesn’t mean absurd with their special edition Pink Gin. It’s a peculiar take, but a brilliant one, with the light pink colour coming from Verjus, a bar-centric cocktail ingredient that somehow treads a fine line between vinegar and wine. This isn’t sweet at all, and the pink was something of an accident, but hey – when you tap into a trend, embrace it!

In slightly cheesier news, a Gin tie-in with the Downton Abbey film (yes really) was released in August. We’d have let this one slip right by the inbox with the accompanying cynicism we reserve for such things but a certain name caught our eye: Tom Nichol. Nichol is an ex-Tanqueray distiller responsible for reviving and shaping many a brand. He’s rarely put a foot wrong as far as we’re concerned, so branding aside (it is just us that think it’s a bit niche?), chances are this is going to be great. Rose water, ginger and lime seek to evoke the “era” of Downton, so whether or not posh people from the olden days are your style, this is definitely one to try. As a side note – Nichol has retired three times now by our count…

Another thing of note is part of a trend we really expected to take off some time ago – musical collaborations. Manchester Gin teamed up with Joy Division’s Peter Hook to create Hacienda Gin, named after The Hacienda, a famed venue from the ‘80s. Dandelion & Burdock in the botanical line up sets this apart a little, but it’s more the band-branded Gin we’re curious about. Could it finally be happening? Manchester are doing a lot of interesting stuff already, so we can’t wait to see what happends when they move into their new home in September too.

One little moment of note across the pond came from one of our absolute all time favourite gins – Conniption. Durham Distillery (Durham North Carolina, FYI) saw Constellation Brands take a little stake this month. Constellation have their fingers in many pies, but they also have the budget to elevate their brands. America is vast – this makes for a lot of distilleries and a lot of different palates to attend to. There are so few, barely a handful in fact, USA made gins that are distributed and loved nationwide, so the race is still very much on to join them. If this investment means it brings them nearer, we can’t help but applaud. If it helps them make more of a name for themselves in this country  too – even better. It really is one of the best gins on the market.

TOOTING OUR OWN HORN

Talking of new releases, we’d be missing a trick if we didn’t include our collaboration with Warner’s in the best bits. Farmed & Foraged Gin is our take on slow gratification – orders are sent alongside a packet of apple mint seeds. Drinkers are encouraged to plant these little packets and wait, patiently, until they’ve grown into a healthy plant. This will be the garnish you use in the eventual G&T.

All but one of the botanicals were grown on the Warner estate in Harrington, so it’s a gin that began years ago, with hands in soil.  It’s a very limited edition, but there are still bottles available, so head over to GinKiosk to place your order.

Gin Spin August