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The world’s best-selling gin brands

Gin is in – you only have to look at the rising value of exports from the UK to recognise the world’s growing taste for the juniper-based spirit.

Gin exports from the UK are expected to hit £500m this year, according to the WSTA

In 2016, it was revealed that the UK exported £474 million worth of gin, smashing last year’s record, with the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) estimating that exports will hit the £500m mark before the end of 2017.

The latest HMRC figures show £474m worth of British gin was sold abroad in 2016 – up 12%, worth £53 million more than the previous year – with 139 countries now bulk buying British gin.

Since 2012, the value of British gin exports have increased by 32%, adding the equivalent value of £227m in just five years, while volume sales have also risen by 36%. In total, 44 new distilleries opened in 2016, with 100 new licences issued in the last two years.

Solidifying the resurgence of gin, this year the rising popularity of the spirit saw it added to the Office of National Statistic’s (ONS) inflation basket for the first time in 13 years, signalling its status as a shopping basket staple among Brits.

But it’s not just the UK that is jumping on the gin bandwagon. While the UK now produces more than 500 gins, around 6,000 are produced worldwide, with the vast majority of gin producers reporting substantial growth in the past year.

With that in mind, we have rounded up the world’s best-selling international gin brands.

Click through for our round up of the eight best-selling gin brands….

(Figures are based on the number of nine-litre cases sold globally. All figures have been obtained directly from brand owners, unless otherwise stated)

8. Gin Mare

Brand owner: Vantguard (formerly Global Premium Brands)

Volume 2015: 98,000

Volume 2016: 146,000

Change: 49%

Spanish gin brand Gin Mare made impressive gains in 2016, increasing its volumes by a whopping 49% to 146,000 nine-litre cases – the biggest increase in volume achieved by any of the top eight brands – however it has a long way to go before it crosses the magic million mark.

The Gin Mare brand was launched in 2010 after three years of research to create a gin that would reflect its Mediterranean heritage, with botanicals used to make it including basil from Italy, thyme from Greece, Rosemary from Turkey and citrus fruits from Spain. Gin Mare is made in the small Spanish fishing town of Vilanova, just outside the city of Barcelona, with the pot still used to produce it housed in a chapel in a property that was once a monk’s retreat.

One of the brand’s most prominent marketing initiatives has been its rooftop bar, Med Rooftops, which returned to London for a second year last month, with guests served Gin Mare cocktails while taking in views of the River Thames, having also popped up in Madrid, Lisbon, Barcelona, Munich and Rome.

7. Hendrick’s

Brand owner: William Grant and Sons

Volume 2015: 788,823

Volume 2016: 953,361

Change: 20.9%

Owned by William Grant and Sons, Hendrick’s continued its eccentric approach to marketing in 2017 with the unveiling of its Corgan – Cucumber Organ of Remarkably Glorious Auditory Nirvana – the keys of which are made of 49 real cucumbers. The Corgan was said to be inspired by its Victorian stills – an antique Bennet from 1860 and a rare Carter-Head – hail from. According to Hendrick’s, the organ works by “translating electric currents from the organist’s fingertips though each individual cucumber”. 2017 also saw William Grant & Sons launch a limited edition Hendrick’s gin called Orbium, a “quininated gin” designed to encapsulate “what Hendrick’s might taste like in a parallel universe”.

Hendrick’s is proving particularly successful for William Grant and Sons in the travel retail market. The group’s global travel retail director Ed Cottrell reported on its “standout” performance at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes last year, but cautioned against complacency. He said standing out in an increasingly crowded and competitive arena would be the biggest challenge to maintaining its success in the future, with dozens of craft gins continually entering the market.

6. Larios

Brand owner: Beam Suntory

Volume 2015: 1.04m

Volume 2016: 1.22m

Change: 17.3%

Larios is already the biggest-selling gin in Spain, and last year set its sights on international expansion, achieving impressive growth of 17.3% in 2016. The brand made its debut in the UK market last summer, with Catalyst Brands, which became its UK distributor last year, brought in to front a £500,000 marketing campaign.

The gin brand’s roots can be traced to 1866, however its was launched under its current name in 1932. Its range includes Larios Dry Gin, a 37.5% abv London Dry Gin made with Mediterranean orange and lemon botanicals; Larios 12, a 40% abv gin featuring twelve botanicals in a blend of five distillations, enhanced with orange blossom; and Larios Rosé, a 37.5% abv pink expression of Larios Mediterranean gin infused with strawberries.

(Figures 2015/16 sourced from The Spirits Business)

5. Seagram’s

Brand owner: Pernod Ricard

Volume 2015: 2.5m

Volume 2016: 2.63m

Change: 5.2%

The best-selling gin in the US, Pernod Ricard’s Seagram’s achieved something of a bounce back in 2016, after seeing a 6.7% decline in 2015 with volumes falling from 2.7m in 2014 to 2.5m in 2015. This year, the brand has almost returned to volumes achieved in 2014, with the number of nine-litre cases shipped in 2016 rising once more to 2.63m – an increase of 5.2%.

Seagram’s first distillery was founded in 1857 in Ontario, with Joseph E. Seagram becoming a partner in 1869 and the sole owner of the company in 1883. Seagram’s Gin was first introduced in the US in 1939 as Seagrams Ancient Bottle Distilled Dry Gin. Today the brand is owned by drinks giant Pernod Ricard.

In addition to its Extra Dry expression, launched in 1939, which Pernod Ricard describes as “exceptionally smooth with hints of orange peel, cinnamon and lilac”, Seagram’s has gone big on flavoured variants via the likes of pineapple, peach, red berry, melon, lime and apple offerings. Most recently, the brand unveiled its the “first” apricot-flavoured vodka, along with a Ruby Red Grapefruit variant. The expressions join the brand’s existing flavoured gin portfolio, which includes grape, peach, red berry, and apple and are described as “highly mixable”. Seagram’s Vodka is five-times distilled and produced with American grain to ensure a “clean, extra smooth” taste and “no burn”.

(Figures 2015/16 sourced from The Spirits Business)

4. Beefeater

Brand owner: Pernod Ricard

Volume 2015: 2.6m

Volume 2016: 2.7m

Change: 3.8%

Another Pernod Ricard-owned brand, Beefeater also achieved modest growth in 2016, having fallen flat in 2015, adding a further one million nine-litre cases this past year. The biggest development for the Beefeater brand in 2016 was the launch of its new bottle, dedicated to the brand’s home city of London. The ‘iconic’ Yeoman of the Guard was retained, but the front of the bottle now features a drawing of the river Thames and several of London’s own iconic landmarks such as Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast, the London Eye and Houses of Parliament. The design was intended to represent the “strong evolution” of the brand’s visual identity.

Most recently, in January 2017, the brand launched a new red bottle design for its Beefeater 24 gin, made from a blend of 12 botanicals, including exotic teas, and at the same time announcing a price hike for the brand from about US$31.00 to an RRP of US$39.00.

Earlier this year the brand appointed Sumaiyah Connolly as its new global brand ambassador, charged with working in collaboration with brand managers to develop off-trade and on-trade programmes for the brand. In addition, her duties will include gin and spirits education as well including hosting a ‘gin college’ and masterclasses. The training element of the position will also give Connolly an active role in mentoring members of the Chivas Brothers Graduate Programme – coaching graduates to become the next generation of global brand ambassadors.

3. Tanqueray

Brand owner: Diageo

Volume 2015: 2.58m

Volume 2016: 2.9m

Change: 12.4%

Moving into the top three for the first time, 2016 marked the first year that Tanquerary, owned by Diageo, outperformed Beefeater, with its volume sales growing by 12.4% thanks to a positive performance in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. It was enough for the brand to overtake Pernod Ricard’s Beefeater, which only managed 3.8% growth in terms of volume to reach 2.7m nine-litre cases, compared with Tanqueray’s 2.9m.

September 2016 saw the brand team up with US rapper Snoop Dogg to promote the brand in the US, inspired by his hit song ‘Gin & Juice’, with its CEO Ivan Menezes later confirming a company-wide push on the US gin market, where he said the “gin renaissance” had not yet taken root.

In the UK, its marketing campaign includes a partnership with the Belmond British Pullman to launch a gin and food pairing experience while aboard a train steaming through the British countryside. 

2. Bombay Sapphire

Brand owner: Bacardi

Volume 2015: 2.66m

Volume 2016: 3.05m

Change: 14.7%

Bombay Sapphire achieved a 14.7% growth in volumes during 2016, crossing the three million milestone for the first time and placing it ahead of Tanqueray, just. Teetering around the three million mark, with the battle for second and third place the most hotly contested.

This year, the brand introduced several new initiatives, including the global launch of the Glasshouse Project and The Grand Journey experiential activity. Earlier this month the brand brought its gin train, the Laverstoke Express, back to London last week as it continues its focus on events-based marketing. The Bacardi-owned company teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Tom Sellers of Restaurant Story fame, to create an immersive dining and cocktail experience. Branded ‘The Grand Journey,’ the Laverstoke Express, named after the gin distillery, took diners on a trip around the world, visiting the locations where each of Bombay Sapphire’s ten botanicals are sourced.

1. Gordon’s

Brand owner: Diageo

Volume 2015: 4.59m

Volume 2016: 4.62m

Change: 0.7%

Still the world’s biggest-selling gin brand, Gordon’s dominates the global gin market, as it continues to bounce back from a five-year low of 3.6m in 2014. Today, it remains streaks ahead of its closest competitor, shifting 4.62m nine-litre cases in 2016 – a modest 0.7% increase on its already huge volumes – following a multi-million relaunch of the brand in the UK in 2015. 

Founder Alexander Gordon opened the distillery in 1769 just 18 years after Chiswick-based artist William Hogarth published his famous Gin Lane print depicting London as a gin-soaked den of depravity. With Gordon’s, Alexander sought to lift the spirit’s reputation from the gutter into the dining rooms of the elite with a juniper-forward expression. The company began by producing sweet Old Tom gin until continuous distillation began in the 1830s, with the first mention of “London Dry Gin” appearing on Gordon’s distinctive green bottles in the early 1900s. By then the business had merged into Tanqueray Gordon & Co – the world’s largest gin distiller.

Most recently the brand moved into pink gin with the launch of a gin in 2017 inspired by a recipe used by the brand in the 1800s. Gordon’s Premium Pink Distilled Gin is made “using only natural fruit flavours” including raspberry, strawberry and redcurrant and is said to have a “subtler touch” of juniper than the brand’s standard expression.

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