Gin: Too big to fail?


The consensus is that the current rate of growth will decrease in the next three to five years. This does not mean the category will fall away entirely – far from it. Gin merchant and online review site, The Gin Foundry, believes the craft sector will start “to feel the pinch as third party made, supermarket brands take advantage of their low overheads and economies of scale”, but it still forecasts 12% growth for this year.

Kelp needed: Harris Gin.

To the consumer, the gin market can appear daunting, with a vast array of bottles vying for attention. As McDiarmid of Luvians says, it “isn’t by accident that [our] fastest gin to sell out so far this year was the Electric Spirit Company’s Not Another Effing Gin”.

Some brands will struggle to attract the necessary demand and begin to fall away. All the more reason, therefore, to ensure that your gin is of both good quality and has a strong message. The market may seem crowded, but the increased competition that it brings does not preclude a sense of community.

What is particularly striking about the responses we received from brands was the amount of praise lavished on rivals. Competitors commended Isle of Harris Gin and Tanqueray Ten for their bottle designs and Atom Supplies’ That Boutique-y Gin Company for its ingenuity. Hepple Gin’s Warner was quick to praise Sipsmith for helping with early questions and business drafts, after former Sipsmith head distiller Chris Garden moved to join Hepple.

It is important to remember, as Beale has said, and Sipsmith’s Hall reiterates: “The underlying driver of gin’s development is not predicated on fickle fashion or fad but a structural change in the category itself”. The rapid emergence of gin brands at the super-premium end of the category has inspired a level of anorakish behaviour among enthusiasts more commonly seen in whisky.

This change has given gin a terroir-like quality, making it an easy sell for the bartender and retailer, while also engendering a true communal spirit that sets it apart from the rest.

3 Responses to “Gin: Too big to fail?”

  1. martin says:

    Interesting thoughts, and by and large mostly agreeable, but there are different gin strategies out there, three of which spring to mind; regional and/or local botanically-based or biased gins, craft/artisan gins using the best available botanical ingredients regardless of origin, and then there are those gin brands that are merely that – not even distilled by the owners, but simply a farmed-out recipe gin that relies on marketing and PR, a brand exercise capitalising on the resurgence of the category! Whilst writing another strategy has occurred to me – the big brand owners/distillers, also cashing in on the popularity of the category with pseudo-craft gins and even with the cynical use of labelling terms such as ‘handcrafted’ which the big brands are most certainly not! But the question about longevity is a valid one. My opinion is that quality will last, as it does with most things, not just gin. The regional products may hit a ceiling before others, as more regional products appear then a customer’s loyalty is more narrowly defined if you ask me, and customers only have so much cupboard space for gin, not to mention the cash to pay for it. Hopefully the band-waggoning brands will get bored at some point and move on to something else, as I don’t think they contribute very much of value to the category, just muddy the pond! And I have just thought about another entrant to the market – the hobbyist! These guys are at least distilling their own gin in the main part, not commissioning a big player to do it foe them, and for that they deserve respect, but actually they risk the most in my mind as they generally have no previous history in drinks, let alone spirits, and are very often following other professions or careers. These guys seem the most likely to fall first, but time will tell.

  2. R says:

    As with anything, quality is King\Queen. Some of the bigger brands will always be there, they have the might and capital reserves to ride out a small drop in market share, not to mention the lower distribution costs vs smaller craft distributors. In my view a key hurdle to growing the brand is the removal of the effort barrier to obtain one of these products. Nearly all supermarkets carry Gordons gin, easy to access, drop it in with the shopping, chug it with some Schweppes tonic, its acceptable as a beverage, its also obtainable to most of the +18 population. But take a small hand crafted gin that contains unicorn hooves and phoenix feathers, chances are it will be only sold in a small shed on the road to Shegra.
    In order for the smaller producers to get their product to market there needs to be greater cooperation between the producers and the giants of commerce. If the supermarkets cant sell very limited qtys of specialist spirits, perhaps its time that Amazon took the mantle and made it easier for folks to receive beverages by post, I never had an issue getting my monthly crate of wine left a the back door, Amazon force you to be in at time of delivery and anyone that has had the hell of using Yodel will attest to, its just not worth it. Existing suppliers are just way too expensive, ~£50 for 450ml of gin delivered, its Gin, not the elixir of life we are talking about….they may be one in the same, but at that price, it wont be me.

  3. Jack Keenan says:

    Bombay Sapphire was created with a very low level of juniper as USA drinkers do not care for the juniper flavour…one reason why Gin consumption per capita is much lower than the UK or Spain!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters