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8 gin launches in 2019 that show how the category is evolving

Whether you love it or loathe it, gin is still big business in the UK.

In September last year, it was reported that sales of UK gin have doubled in value in the past five years with exports and domestic sales totalling £2.2 billion in the year ending 16 June.

As reported by the drinks business, 2018 was a record year for sales of coloured and flavoured gins, with a multitude of new expressions hitting the market within the past year to 18 months.

Earlier this year, we spoke to Euromonitor’s drinks analyst Spiros Malandrakis, who told us that, while consumers might be past the “peak gin craze” businesses are finding increasingly creative ways to cash in on the demand for new flavours and expressions.

“It’s all about how you sidestep that nascent maturity and appeal to that demographic.”

Companies from outside of the spirits market have now started to dip their toes into the category, with wine producers like Accolade and Treasury launching their own pink-hued, gin-like serves, and Swedish cider maker Kopparberg launching two full-strength flavoured gins within a month of each other.

Meanwhile, large-scale spirits companies such as Pernod Ricard have diversified their portfolios with brands that, as Malandrakis put it, “play around with expectations” by veering away from dry London styles and into fruit-forward spirits inspired by the Mediterranean. It’s worth noting that by the end of 2018, the Wine and Spirits Trade Association found that flavoured gin has driven over half of all growth in the category throughout the year.

We’ve taken a look at the latest gins that have launched in the UK, which show how the category is continuing to evolve.

(Photo: Accolade Wines)

Drinks giant Accolade’s wine label Echo Falls launched a summer berries-flavoured pink gin last month, having already released a 9% ABV rosé wine and gin fusion brand in March.

Echo Falls is not the only brand moving into pink gin this year. Last month, Swedish cider brand Kopparberg launched its second spirit inspired by its range of fruity ciders with a Mixed Fruit Gin, after breaking into the spirits category for the first time with a strawberry and lime pink gin earlier in May.

In March, Treasury Wine Estates introduced a white wine and gin fizz fusion in the UK in an effort to modernise the Blossom Hill brand and inject “crucial innovation and growth” into the wine category.

Spirits companies have made millions on the back of a gin boom that has spanned years in the UK, but now that the category is maturing, drinks giants like William Grant & Sons and Pernod Ricard are getting creative with their brand portfolios to keep their market share.

Pernod Ricard signed a deal with Biggar & Leith to acquire its premium Italian gin brand, Malfy, in April. Weeks later, William Grant & Sons UK broadened gin portfolio with the launch of a new label, Verano, “inspired by Spain and its relaxed lifestyle, colourful vibrancy and delicious fresh fruits.”

In February, Irish Distillers rolled out Method and Madness Irish Micro Distilled Gin, the first release from its micro distillery at Midleton, inspired by the gin recipes of 18th century Cork and made with botanicals including black lemon and Irish gorse flower.

Unique ingredients were a big feature of gin launches last year, and the trend hasn’t slowed down just yet. Yorkshire-based gin distillery Slingsby created a caviar-infused gin in February, which sells for £100 per bottle.

The distiller collaborated Leeds-based Michelin starred restaurant The Man Behind the Curtain to create the serve, which is infused with botanicals grown in Harrogate, as well as more unusual ingredients including plankton and Exmoor Caviar.

Also in February, Swansea-based Lewis Pie and Pasty Co. teamed up with Coles Brewery and Distillery in Llanddarog to produce a gin made from leftover bread.

The bread is turned into beer which is then distilled to make the neutral base spirit, before re-distilling and adding botanicals to make gin.

One month later, London-based Portobello Road unveiled the third gin in its “Local Heroes” series, partnering with Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler on a spirit which combines Portobello Road Gin’s nine signature botanicals with lime zest, fresh cucumber peel and olive oil.

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