Gin Spin October 2019
As ever, we’ve taken our slow approach to the news, watching both the impact and the aftershock to see which of the past month’s events have had any real resonance.
NUMBERS NUMBERS NUMBERS
According to Harpers, Gin is on the very edge of (finally) eclipsing Vodka sales! Sales of the spirit are u- 45% (ending June 2019), with Flavoured Gin taking the spirit by the hand and dragging it to the top of the pile.
Citing William Grant’s Trending 2020 report, Harpers predicts that by June 2020, Gin will become the most popular spirit in the UK.
It may well be that this is a temporary takeover, though. Others are pointing to Rum, which is apparently already catching up and picking up the slack from a Gin market in deep state of fatigue.
After all, Flavoured Gin (which accounts for a majority of sales growth – formerly 1 in 5 total sales, now 1 in 3 in the UK) is a novelty, and novelties don’t last forever. Adding their two cents into the game, Pernod suggested it’s all very risky and that the pink stuff (along with the low barrier to entry for Gin as a whole) could lead to a race to the bottom. The comments made were seemingly oblivious to any irony, given that Beefeater Dry is no longer on shelf having been replaced by Beefeter Pink in almost all supermarkets.
As for helping you understand all this madness, we’ll simply say that the news reports are all as speculative as stock market forecasts, and that while numbers are going up and down, what is now abundantly clear for the third quarter in a row is that Flavoured Gin (often Pink) is a thing of it’s own – not a stepping stone, not a new drinker acquisition drive for the category. If it were a gateway,, the Dry Gin numbers would have increased at the same rate, but the opposite is true across all data sources.
People who drink it seem to like it enough to explore around for more flavoured gin, but they don’t look at it as a toe in the water (nor a guilty pleasure). It’s not a gateway drug, it’s a genre of its own. The fact that it accounts for such a huge amount of sales suggests that commentators and brands ought to adjust their thinking around the genre and what role it is playing for the category.
It was good news to see Rock Rose get involved in waste reduction with the release of their refill pouches this month. The distillery already had a handful of green initiatives to their name, but the joining others and getting involved in the pouch scheme is next level, encouraging consumers to keep hold of their collectible bottles.
The idea is that when you feel your bottle getting light, you order one of their extraordinarily clever pouches, which will shimmy through your letter box and onto the mat, ready to greet you after a tough day at work.
A considerable amount less energy goes into making the pouches as well as shipping them (they weigh 65g, whilst the bottles weigh 700g), and while the plastic may seem slightly counter-intuitive, by 2025, the team hope to have fully biodegradable refill pouches, too.
This isn’t the first pouch scheme (Victory do it too, along with a handful of others), but it’s always reassuring to see brands we know and love funnelling their income into the future. Sustainability is absolutely key.
On the Up and Up
Salcombe Distillery announced its partnership with P&O last month. The Devon-based team have released some pretty impressive plans to create an onboard distillery that will distil, bottle and label a “unique” gin. Following it’s launch onboard Iona in May 2020, Salcombe will start also make the recipe back at its Devon site, to be distributed and served across the P&O Cruises fleet as the company’s official premium gin. Given that P&O order gin by the pallet per ship, the deal should see the Salcombe getting a bit of extra change in its pockets this year. A much deserved boost for a brand that’s put back to back releases and campaigns that have showcased confidence and genuine international credibility.
Up north, Burleighs had a good month, too, plowing through its crowdfunding target with 291 investments. Burleighs Gin will use the funds to accelerate its global plans, expand the company’s staff numbers and establish the brand in the US and Asia.
London Cocktail Week
We did our round up earlier this month (feels like years ago now!), but suffice it to say it was a smash hit, taking over a bigger portion of London east year. Gin was still very much part of the picture, but it’s interesting to see the growth of Rum tastings and conversely – Whisky cocktails, too. Read the full LCW round-up here.
The good the bad and the UGLY.
The good must go to Lakes for their upgraded packaging, as well as a new and distinctive flavour. Twisted Nose, too, released a brand new, custom bottle. It had out eyes a-popping, we must say, and instantly took the brand from completely forgettable to desirable in a flash. Honestly, it’s beautiful, and it really shows how powerful the right look is in this incredibly crowded market.
The festive releases are rolling in, too, and while we’re squeezing our eyes shut to keep out the Mince Pie Gins, the Spiced Sloe from Hayman’s and Tarquin’s Figgy Pudding has us reaching for a tasting glass.
An Dulaman released a Navy Strength Gin with a twist, finished off in Rioja cask, while Cuckoo launched their charitably minded Solace Gin (eyes peeled on Ginvent for a taster…).
Somewhat interesting was Red Door Highland Gin (with “the warmth of allspice, sea buckthorn, zesty blood orange, rich sultanas and hop blossom”) and Kintyre’s new Navy Strength.
Less interesting was the 300th new flavour from McQueen’s, who seem to churn one out each week (Black Cherry & Vanilla at first, then Clementine and Cinnamon), or Old Curiosity also releasing their 200th for the year, closely followed by number 199 from Edinburgh – this time Bramble and Honey Gin. There’s nothing wrong with distillers going wild with flavours and new offerings, but we just wished there was something more to these flavoured gins than just being NEW. We’d love to see more development done to the distilleries behind them and a little less time spent running around that hamster wheel that is constant NPD…
As for the bad… well, we already mentioned the Mince Pie (why does it have to have glitter in there too?), but the ugly crown surely has to go to Snow Fairy Gin Liqueur. What in the name of sweet baby Jesus is that about?
The one good thing we can take from this onslaught is that when asked about the latest trends and happenings from the UK while in Junipalooza Melbourne, almost every face was a mix of shock and bemusement at what the UK had become of late – a marked change from four years ago when we all looked at their Gin in amusement of their use of crazy native botanicals. It just goes to show that if your world is upside down, over on the other side of the world things will be the right way up… Time to look further afield for some stability gin fans.
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