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British gin renaissance eyes Europe advance

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has joined forces with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and four leading drinks suppliers to celebrate the growing export success of British gin.

From its European inspiration in the 17th century, gin has been a regular fixture for the discerning British drinker. More recently the UK's taste for gin has reached new heights. Now the rest of Europe is following suit, with growth in Spain, Germany, France, Italy and Belgium helping to fuel a wave of new micro-distilleries throughout the UK, and an explosion of new premium products. 

The event, held on June 4 at the British Residence in Brussels, saw major suppliers Diageo, Pernod-Ricard, William Grant & Sons and Berry Bros. & Rudd promoting the quality and diversity on offer from the industry at a gin tasting reception with MEPs, European Commission officials, retailers, distributors and European industry experts in attendance.

UK sales of premium British gin have grown by 48.7% in the last two years and research by the WSTA shows significant export potential, with demand rising sharply in all five of the leading international markets. Gin made in the UK now accounts for almost 140 million bottles [IWSR] of UK exports - sufficient to stretch around the world more than once.

The British gin industry has grown in value by 11.3% in the last year alone and an impressive 19.8% over the past two years [CGA Strategy and Nielsen] Global output is forecast to grow by 13 million litres a year – with much of this growth to be met by British gins. In addition to this growth in demand for gin, demand for premium gins is also on the rise and British gin producers are ready to take advantage.

WSTA chief executive, Miles Beale, said: “This is an exciting time for all those in the UK gin industry as growth in the sector picks up momentum across Europe. Today’s tasting has brought the industry together to demonstrate the quality and variety of British gin and to highlight the export potential of such a fantastic British product.

“British gin has a strong, vibrant history, and UKTI's support for today's event is a wonderful and welcome endorsement of its potential. As we look to grow the reputation of our members’ products across Europe, I am delighted that we can take a moment to celebrate with our guests the success of this iconic British product, but also its recent renaissance and its vast potential. British gin is on the rise!”. 

Charlie Downing, global gin marketing director, Diageo said: “Over the past few years there has been a renaissance in gin consumption. As gin continues to find itself in vogue, we are seeing the category and brands extend their popularity to more markets.

“One trend evident in gin consumption is premiumisation, with consumers seeking better quality products. Products in the super-premium and above category are now being offered by many brands to appeal to consumer demand.

“Gin will continue its resurgence in popularity as consumers continue to look for good quality spirits. It seems certain that Tanqueray will continue to capitalise on this current gin renaissance and maintain its enviable position as a timeless classic”.

Pierre Berger, marketing director, Pernod-Ricard said: “At Pernod Ricard, we are thrilled to be involved with this week’s event and welcome the increased support from the UK Government for the growing gin industry.

“Beefeater is not only the world’s most awarded and best-selling premium gin, but is the only international gin brand to have its distillery in the UK’s capital, making it a true London Spirit. The traditional Beefeater recipe has remained virtually unchanged since the 19th Century, creating a full-bodied premium gin with a beautifully balanced flavour. It is fantastic to see it being enjoyed far beyond British borders”.

Julie Page, global brand director, Hendrick’s Gin said: “Do not underestimate the cylindrical power of the humble cucumber, especially when it is combined with delicate rose petals. It is Hendrick’s infusion of the unexpected and the delightful that has helped to spearhead a golden age of gin. At a time when consumers are seeking craft distilling, innovation, provenance, Hendrick’s also offers something a bit different through immersive and unusual brand experiences that pique the curiosity of gin drinkers. It is why Hendrick’s is performing incredibly well in Belgium and across Europe. These are very exciting times for the super-premium gin category.”

Luke Tegner, marketing director at Berry Bros. & Rudd said: “We are currently experiencing a boom in new gin drinkers, who are attracted to the category as they look for more flavour. Combined with a resurgence for classic no-nonsense cocktails, these trends have helped the success of No.3 with its classic and simple juniper-based recipe.

“In some of our key markets in Europe we see double and even triple digit growth rates year on year. Even in Asia, which is known as a brown spirits market, we see a growing demand for classic gin cocktails based on ultra-premium gin”.

9 June 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor