In focus: The latest trends in gin

With pink and savoury expressions taking root, and distillation methods still to be explored, there is still plenty of room for growth in the gin category. Phoebe French explores…

Like fashion, gin is fickle. In just 10 years, the spirit has been transformed from one made by a handful of large distillers to a category now represented by producers of all shapes and sizes. In key markets such as the UK, gin remains buoyant. According to the latest figures published by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, sales of gin in the UK rose by 28% in volume and by 33% in value to reach £1.5 billion in the year ending 31 March 2018. This means that gin sales have more than doubled in value in five years (from £696m in the year ending March 2013). While the volume of gin sold has increased, this does not necessarily mean that the products themselves are completely new.

Take the recent craze for coloured and savoury gins. Founded in 1740 and latterly owned by Diageo until production ceased in 2017, Booth’s gin was famously pale yellow in colour. Pre-Prohibition America was also responsible for a series of weird and wacky ‘medicinal gins’, including Buchu Gin (a herb used in perfume and medicine) made by the likes of The Bouvier Speciality Company and Friedenwald, or asparagus gin, by the Rothenburg Company and the Folsom Company.

Many modern gin producers take inspiration from what has been done before. Tanqueray, founded in 1732, used recipes from founder Charles Tanqueray from the 1830s and the 1860s respectively to influence its new Flor de Sevilla orange and limited-edition lovage gins. For its pink gin, Beefeater’s master distiller, Desmond Payne MBE, trawled through the inventions of the distillery’s pharmacist founder James Borrough, which included raspberry gin and cherry brandy, while Whitley Neill and J.J. Whitley both benefit from the records kept by the Whitley family distillers.

Over the past eight to 10 months, the gin category has seen high-profile big-brand launches, kicking off with Gordon’s Pink in September 2017. This was followed by Beefeater Pink in February 2018, Tanqueray’s Flor de Sevilla in April and its Lovage gin in May, basil-flavoured O’ndina gin from Campari in April and a sour cherry gin from Italian liqueur giant Luxardo, which is due to be released in the UK this summer.

With increasing numbers of established brands in the pink, coloured and savoury categories, including Pinkster, Edgerton and Warner Edwards, along with Boudier’s vermillion-hued Saffron Gin and Spain’s olive-and-rosemary infused Gin Mare, what has prompted the big players to follow suit?

The London launch of Tanqueray’s Lovage edition. Photography by CPG Photohgraphy Ltd

Nick Williamson, marketing director of Campari UK, points to the growth of the cocktail market and the growing appreciation for bitter, savoury serves, such as the Negroni. “The broader rise of savoury gins should be looked at within the context of the general consumer appetite for more bitter drinks, so it makes good business sense for gin distillers to capitalise on this trend. That savoury gins are enjoying a surge in popularity is certainly in part thanks to the increasing need for new gins entering the marketplace to stand out from the crowd, with a distinct USP,” he says.

Last year Pernod Ricard, the owner of Beefeater Gin, launched the Gin Hub, an independent arm tasked with developing and innovating within the company’s portfolio of strategic gin brands to drive further growth in the category. Eric Sampers, global brand director of the Gin Hub, believes that to attract newcomers to gin, brands must abide by three rules that now influence product development at Beefeater and have helped shape its new pink gin. These factors are essential in attracting what the company refers to as the ‘new generation of younger gin drinkers’, an area where previously, Sampers admits, “we weren’t performing as well as we would have liked”.

2 Responses to “In focus: The latest trends in gin”

  1. Julie Martineau says:

    Ungava gin (ref: http://ungava-gin.com/en/home/), which is quite yellow, changes colour when the tonic water is poured in: it turns a very light pink. According to my Process Engineer partner, the carbonic acid disolved in the tonic lowers the pH of the gin, turning its yellow components pink. It also makes for a delicious happy hour!

  2. We produce Rose Gold gin which is yellow but throws out pinkish hues when mixed with tonic. Naturally coloured with hibiscus and saffron.
    thestaffordshiregincompany.co.uk

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