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Sainsbury’s collaborates with Master of Malt on curated craft gin range

UK craft spirit retailer Master of Malt has collaborated with Sainsbury’s stores to roll out a rotating range of craft gins that reflects ‘rapidly changing’ customer drinking trends in a selection of its stores. 

The Craft Captaincy range, which will be available in 52 selected stores, marks the first time one of the top four multiple grocers has collaborated with a craft spirits retailer and distributor and will combine “the insight and innovation” of the craft ecommerce site with “the reach of the grocery channel”, Master of Malt said.

Launching this week, the move will see some of Sainsbury’s biggest stores across the UK offer a rotating selection of six boutique craft gins that will change every nine weeks, adding “energy and excitement to the category, whilst encouraging experimentation and supporting the growing trend of ‘luxury home imbibing’,” the company said.

The initial roll out will include Bathtub Gin Persian Lime & Orange Blossom from Kent’s Atom Brands in Kent, Black Eye Gin, the new gin from former rugby stars Mike Tindall, James Haskell, and Alex Payne, which is produced by London-based Thames Distillers, Finland’s Kyrö Gin, Berry Bros & Rudd’s No 3 London dry gin, Hapusa Gin, a Himalayan gin produced in India by Nao Spirits, and Brighton Gin.

The 52 Sainsbury’s stores involved in the project include Bishop Stortford, Stirling, Alperton, Harrogate, Hayward’s Heath, Dulwich, Ladbroke Grov, Truro and Edinburgh.

The move is intended to overcome the limitations of a large multiple retailer which tend to be less able to move quickly or offer the breadth of range than smaller specialists, enabling it to keep pace with ecommerce retailers as well as the evolution of the ways in which customers are drinking at home, which blossomed during the Covid lockdowns and continues to gain momentum in the current cost of living crisis.

Master of Malt argued that its range of more than 15,000 products combined with its live data on what ecommerce consumers are purchasing, gave it credence to be able to “predict what will be reflected in consumer buying and at home habits,” according to its head of off-trade, Adam Talbot.

He added that this could “transform the way Spirits are sold in Sainsbury’s” as it would no longer be limited to one or two range reviews in the year.

“For the first time ever we are able to shorten the gap; by offering Sainsbury’s consumers the opportunity to use and experience premium, professional craft choices of the spirits they see and try in bars in their own home the day after,” he said. “We know that almost half of Spirits consumers in the Off Trade are driven by finding something ‘new or unfamiliar’ and product aesthetics and design – this project is aimed to deliver on these emerging needs.”

It pointed out a resurgence in smaller producers and bottlers whose focus was on authenticity, premium liquids and provenance with the craft spirits category driving the wider category forward at a “rapid pace” with social media also driving the trend – the #cocktailsathome hashtag receiving 139.9 million views on Tik Tok alone at the end of August.


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