The gin brands to watch in 2018By Amy Hopkins
As gin continues its unstoppable growth and competition ramps up, The Spirits Business names the brands that are set to be the talk of the category in 2018.
Many people have questioned whether gin can sustain its incredible pace of growth, but the juniper wave continues to roll in. According to forecast figures from Euromonitor, the category will increase its volumes by more than 20 million litres in 2017.
“Gin is booming and this looks set to continue, presenting producers with a strong opportunity for growth,” says Sophie Gallois, managing director of The Gin Hub, which was created by Pernod Ricard this year to manage the group’s gin brands independently of Chivas Brothers – a sign of the additional efforts big players are throwing behind their gin brands. “Gin is undeniably the drink of choice of many millennials – it is perceived as more natural, more experimental, with fun and visual packs and drinking rituals,” Gallois continues. She also notes that gin’s historical markets, such as the UK, are seeing “significant growth”, while emerging markets including Mexico, Brazil, Austria and South Africa are performing well for Pernod’s biggest gin brand, Beefeater.
According to SB’s Brand Champions 2017 report, all international gin brands selling more than 1m cases annually were in growth last year – suggesting the ubiquitous craft trend has not hit the sales of major producers to the extent that some predicted.
Nevertheless, consumer demand for small-batch, independent and locally produced gins continues seemingly unabated. UK-based Warner Edwards Distillery experienced a 350% increase in turnover this year, and its volume exceeded 30,000 nine-litre cases.
“It’s safe to say the gin market keeps exceeding expectations in terms of consumption: the appetite for new flavours, the number of new brands and number of new producers shows no sign of slowing in the near future,” says Tom Warner, founder of Warner Edwards.
“This is great, and healthy for the category as there is a rebalancing of brand power as the independents start to make in-roads on volume. It’s also great to see so many new gin drinkers entering the category, excited by new product development and provenance.”
Warner says the category will continue to face the challenge of “mass-produced ‘craft’ imitations, which trade on a perceived provenance but are not truly authentic”.
Competition is certainly ramping up in the category, particularly as an increasing number of distilleries come online. In September, national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young released figures showing that the number of distilleries in the UK – gin’s heartland – had risen by 107% since 2012. The vast increase, it said, was thanks to the “sudden popularity” of artisan gin.
While running the risk of saturation, smaller players, despite their limited volumes, helped the gin sector hit sales of more than £1bn (US$1.35bn) in the UK for the first time last year. Will the category’s good fortune continue internationally in 2018? Gin-makers certainly believe so.
Click through the following pages to see which gin brands we believe are ones to watch in the year ahead.
Beefeater, the world’s fourth-largest international gin brand, has received a renewed focus from Pernod Ricard following the establishment of its gin unit, The Gin Hub. The business will operate independently to Chivas Brothers, Pernod Ricard’s Scotch arm, which also previously ran its gin business. Innovative brand extensions for Beefeater could follow.
Once a brand enjoyed by the early adopters of the ‘craft’ trend, Sipsmith is poised to take a starring role on the global gin stage after it was acquired by Beam Suntory at the end of 2016. Asia and the US are key targets in a strategy to upscale distribution. According to the founders, Sipsmith will increase production, but they vowed not to “compromise our quality”.
Another one from Beam Suntory, Roku joined the fledgling Japanese gin market this year, giving its USbased parent a “very distinctive and competitive gin portfolio”. The expression, which is made with six Japanese botanicals, started its international roll-out in September, and will become available in even more markets next year.