In a world where consumer engagement is key, gin brands should embrace the opportunities to reach drinkers with limited editions, distiller exclusives, and by opening their distilleries to public visitors, says David T Smith, gin specialist.
Smith will be one of the speakers at Future Trends: Spirits in London on Monday, October 3.
Cocktails and the classic G&T
Gin has enjoyed a revival in recent years. Smith says part of the reason for the spirit’s success is that it is drunk across age groups and genders (unlike other spirits where whisky, for example, can still be perceived as a ‘man’s drink’).
Mintel research also suggests that, despite once considered an ‘older person’s drink’, 42% of Brits aged 18-34 had tried gin in a 12 month period.
The trend for classic cocktails, and drinks from the 30s and 40s, has boosted the popularity of gin.
“This has been perpetuated by a range of new gins that have come onto the market – people approaching the category in a different way,” Smith said.
“For people who thought traditional gins were not in their style – there are now new styles that are more to their tastes.”
In the UK, gin sales hit more than £900m ($1,284m) last year, and the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) predicts growth is set to continue.
Gin sold in supermarkets and off licences reached £400m ($568m), while restaurants, bars and pubs accounted for £500m ($710m).
The number of gin brands has doubled since 2010.
Of particular note is the rise of ‘craft gin’. To Smith, any definition here must include the keywords ‘freedom and independence’: a distillery that has the freedom to innovate and follow its own way of doing things.
Top tips for success: Engage with your consumers
Consumer engagement has become vital across F&B categories and gin is no exception.
Ants, lobsters, meat...
Lobstar Gin: Created by Michelin starred chef Kristof Marrannes, Lobstar Gin is made by macerating lobsters in alcohol, then combining the resulting spirit with gin.
Anty Gin: uses the essence of red wood ants & botanicals, created by The Cambridge Distillery & Nordic Food Lab.
Butcher’s Gin: Spices & herbs of dry-aged beef are macerated before gin distillation. Dried meat is also added to the spirit.
To this end, offering drinkers the chance to visit the distillery can help boost the brand. It’s something that both small distilleries and big brands (take the Beefeater Distillery in Kennington, London, for example) have been doing.
“People have started caring about where their spirits come from – ten years ago that wasn’t the case – it simply came ‘from the shop’,” said Smith.
In addition, gin distillers should consider launching limited edition gins to engage with loyal fans and keep them interested in the brand, says Smith.
“One of the keys to being successful is engagement with your consumers,” he said. “That’s one of the big things that has changed. Now, people want to meet the distiller, visit the distillery.
“A new release once or twice a year keeps the interest ticking over. It’s almost a way of giving back to those people who are supporting you. And people react really well to that.”
Tying into this is the rise of distiller exclusives: gins that can only be made and sold at the distillery itself. It is also a helpful way for distilleries to diversify their revenue streams, Smith added.
Taste the gin!
David T Smith will be running a tasting session with some of the most innovative gins at Future Trends: Spirits on Monday, October 3 at The Royal Institution, London.
Smith has consulted with distillers on over 50 gins across six continents. He is the author of books such as 'The Craft of Gin', 'Forgotten Spirits and Long Lost Liqueurs', and 'How to Make Gin', and runs the website www.summerfruitcup.com, with 400 different gins reviewed. He is a judge for international spirit competitions and is a founder of London’s The Craft Distilling Expo - a trade show for distillers.
Run by The Morning Advertiser, Future Trends: Spirits is a one-day conference designed to discuss some of the future innovations and key challenges for the industry.
Other speakers include Spiros Malandrakis, senior alcoholic drinks analyst, Euromonitor; Ben Branso, founder, Seedlip; and Rachel Perryman; CGA Strategy.