Waitrose rides the gin wave

Waitrose has seized on the UK’s current gin boom, almost doubling its range in the last 12 months and reporting a 7% year-on-year sales increase.

Waitrose gin

Waitrose’s own-label collaboration with Heston Blumenthal

The UK supermarket now lists 52 varieties of gin, which is its biggest selling white spirit. These include a high-end own-label collaboration with Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal, “Heston from Waitrose Earl Grey Gin”.

The news follows a recent report by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association showing that sales of British-made gin alone – which accounts for 20% of the world’s supply and 93% of UK sales – have grown by 18% in the last two years, with “premium” expressions enjoying a rise of almost 50%.

In addition to the steady stream of small-scale gin distilleries to emerge in the UK over recent years, some of whom are now stepping up their ambitions by announcing major expansion plans, several of the bigger brands have reacted with the release of special edition or upmarket expressions to keep consumers’ attention.

Analysing the ongoing momentum behind this trend, Waitrose pointed to the recent rise of UK bars dedicated to gin, such as Gin71 in Glasgow and the London Gin Club, allowing the category to shine as part of the equally vibrant and ever more inventive cocktail scene.

Waitrose spirits buyer John Vine commented: “Our customers know their gin and at Waitrose we have a style for everyone.”

Picking out particular trends at the moment, he reported: “Shoppers continue to enjoy traditional London dry styles with the juniper hit but we have also seen a rise in popularity of Gin Mare, which boasts more rosemary and the flavours of a summer evening. We’ve even recently started listing a Pink Pepper gin exclusively on waitrosecellar.com which we’re tipping to be the trend-setting gin for this summer.”

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