Gin Spin: February Round-Up
Gin Foundry takes a keen-eyed look at industry news to bring you a snapshot of the best bits February has had to offer.
British Gin Exports Hit An All Time High
The Wine and Spirits Association has reported new figures from HMRC that show Gin exports to have hit £474m in 2016, up £53m (12%) year-on-year.
Miles Beale, Chief Executive of The Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: “The ‘Great British Gin Take Off’ has grown into a global phenomenon. The quality of the gin combined with the world’s love for brand Britain has seen British gin breaking records both at home and abroad.”
“It is fantastic to see the quintessentially British spirit supporting a wider industry with gin themed gifts now selling like hot cakes. Britain is by far the biggest exporter of spirits in the world.”
Earlier this year, the WSTA called for the Chancellor to cut duty on all alcohol products by 2%. As part of their Budget Submission for 2017, the association named Gin as an item of huge importance to the spirits industry, stating that since 2000 Gin exports have grown 73% by volume and 166% by value. This in itself is demonstrative of the step away from big brands and towards premium/craft; people are not only buying more Gin, they’re spending a lot more per-bottle.
The market is ever expanding – there are now 233 distilleries in the UK, 56 of which opened in 2015 and 40 of which opened in 2016.
As if rosey export figures weren’t enough, domestic gin sales hit £1.1bn last year, which is also an overall increase of 12% on 2015. Compare that to the rise last year on the year previous (i.e. 2015 growth on 2014) where there was 10% growth in the UK (according to data analysts Neilsen), it’s clear to see there is an increasing rate at which the category is growing.
Gruppo Campari has acquired British brand BULLDOG Gin for $55mn. The deal has been on the table since 2014, when the two firms signed an exclusive distribution agreement that gave the former rights to buy the latter by 2020.
Bulldog is allegedly one of the top performing premium gins in the world, so its no wonder Campari were keen to hasten the deal. Explaining the early buyout, Campari CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz said “We are very pleased to initiate the acquisition of BULLDOG Gin which we have successfully been distributing since 2014. This deal is an opportunity to consolidate our presence as a key player in the attractive super premium gin category via a super-premium brand with significant growth potential. By gaining full control of BULLDOG Gin’s marketing, strategy and brand building initiatives, we are strongly positioned to exploit the brand’s full potential.”
Campari clearly sees that Gin still has plenty of time left in the spotlight and is especially keen to take advantage of the US market, where it plans to bolster its on-trade work.
Two Months ‘Til Tales
Tales of the Cocktail is coming to Edinburgh from the 1st – 5th April. Tales, founded in 2002, began as a gathering of cocktail geeks and has grown into a huge cocktail festival. Each year, thousands of industry figures head down to New Orleans to swap stories and ideas. The event is an important one on the booze calendar, but it can be hard to get to, hence TOTC on tour.
Totc on tour aims to visit smaller cities, shedding light on the burgeoning cocktail culture within and thoroughly embracing the culture of its host city. Founder Ann Tuennerman said: ““Edinburgh’s cocktail scene obviously starts with the history and tradition of Scotch whisky but it’s so much bigger than that. It’s a city that’s on par with the best in the world. I’m so excited for everyone to get to know it even better next Spring.”
The good folk at Hendrick’s Gin will be joining the party, bringing their Departure Lounge to town. Dreamt up by US & Global Ambassadors for the New Orleans event last year, the inaugural lounge was the talk of the town and one not to miss. Get ready to be reinvigorated (and certainly refreshed!), wrapped up in cotton wool (maybe literally, you never know with Hendrick’s…) and sent on a gentle journey back to normality. Guests can even use a Postcard Writing service to send their loved ones a message, while a gift shop and masseuses are also on hand to help. Basically, the same type of experience as you’d get in Luton airport while baggage control have gone on strike and that screaming toddler just won’t stop kicking your seat, but north of the border.
Experiences aside, with Edinburgh home to Bon Vivant, the Lucky Liquor Co, Panda & Sons, Paradise Palms & The Devil’s Advocate, it’s no secret that the city is a boozy hub, so it’ll be great to see the finest minds in cocktails take their inspiration from Auld Reekie!
NB Gin sponsored the BRIT Awards after party for the third year in a row. Twenty-four special edition bottles were created for the event, each hand-etched by East Lothian-based glassware designer Lydia McDonald.
NB Gin co-founder Viv Muir said: “The journey that we’ve been on with NB Gin has been phenomenal. When we first started out, we were experimenting with botanicals using an old pressure cooker in our kitchen… Being selected for events like the BRITs, for the third year in a row, really does make all the hard work worthwhile and shows how respected the brand is on a world stage.”
For a husband and wife team of lawyers-turned distillers, NB Gin has scored a series of good coups; for example, it was the only gin to be included in The Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations last year. Those two headline events do a fairly succinct job of summarising the Gin market as a whole: it’s a spirit that can be served to the bright young things of the music scene and (arguably) the world’s most famous 90-year-old…
When we say weird around here, we tend to say it with affection and heart-eye emojis. A classic, juniper-forward gin will always be our go to tipple, but it’s great fun to watch the category diversify. Gin, we argue, is strange, and nothing has proved that more than the release of not one, but two green ant gins from Australia.
The Something Wild Beverage Company released its Australian Green Ant Gin in February, and was – somewhat remarkably – not the only firm to do so. Fellow Adelaide distillers Applewood Distillery released their equivalent – Green Ant Gin – on Valentine’s Day. How romantic…
Describing the (ad)venture, Applewood Distillery says: “We first encountered Oecophylla smaragdina – more commonly known as the Green Tree Ant – inland near Rockhampton, Queensland. The enticing lime-licked burst of intense green flavours has stuck with us ever since.”
Both Green Ant Gins are limited editions, and – of course – the ants are sourced ethically. Adelaide Hills Distillery, which makes Australian Green Ant Gin, also adds a couple into each bottle for infusion, as the ants’ “zing” doesn’t quite distil.
Australia has been a market playing catch up for a while, but with many fantastic distilleries now in operation down under, it seems they’ve got there, and not only that, they’ve started playing a whole new game. Having not tasted either, we simply hope that they are first and foremost good gins and not just a catchy headline. In case you’re not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and are feeling angry about the mere thought of it, don’t forget, Bass & Flinders have an Angry Ant Gin for such an occasion too… We can’t wait to see what happens next!
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