Sales of gin in Ireland grew nearly 50% last year as both Irish and international brands took hold of the spirits market. The on-trade felt the benefit too with a 41% increase in gin sales, only six percentage points behind the off-trade’s growth of 47%. What’s more, sales of high-end gins have been a tonic to the trade. But how are gin sales doing this year? We take a look.
23 August 2018 | 0
Last year, IWSR data suggested that global volumes of gin are likely to grow by about 7.1 million more nine-litre case sales from 2017 to 2021.
And in its own outlook for 2018 the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland counted over 30 Irish gin brands now out there on the market, many looking ever outwards and increasingly involved in exporting.
Indeed, CSO figures show that our exports of gin saw a major boost in 2017 with volumes up by over 150% leading to a tripling in value to €1.36 million, again highlighting the potential for domestically-produced gins. Gin imports shot up too though, going from €5.9 million to €13 million in value, up 120% (on volumes up by over 100%).
From this one thing is clear. Gin is in.
ABFI pointed out that while 2017 marked a breakthrough in terms of exports for Irish gin producers, 2018 is set to see Irish gin going global, if not stratospheric.
Because so far, the first quarter of this year has proved even more encouraging with gin exports up by a staggering 550% compared to Q1 2017.
New CSO figures reveal that Irish gin’s Q1 exports were valued at €935,000 compared to just €175,000 in Q1 2017.
However half of this value came from exports to the US, now engaged in a trade war with the EU. A further quarter came from exports to the UK, currently under the shadow of Brexit.
There were also shipments of Irish gin to both Japan and Mexico in Q1 2018, both increasingly important new markets for Irish spirits, according to the Irish Spirits Association’s Head William Lavelle.
The ISA recently published its first-ever Strategy for Irish Gin which includes a target of trebling Irish gin sales globally by 2022.
As another straw in the wind, Irish gin producers recently took part in celebrating World Gin Day with a range of events taking place around the country as well as in the UK including the Latin Quarter Gin Fest in Galway, the Belfast Gin Fest and Junipalooza in London.
Other events on World Gin Day included the team at Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin doing their thing at festivals in Galway, Dublin, Belfast and Carlow. In Mayo, Cullen’s at the Cottage, Ashford Castle, hosted an exclusive gin day from lunchtime on Saturday, with a gin tasting from Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin
On-trade gin sales
In the pubs a recent VFI survey found that 93% of publicans are now selling a wider range of gins.
2017 saw a 44.3% increase in total gin sales in Ireland comprising a 40.5% increase in on-trade gin sales and a 47.2% increase in off-trade gin sales.
“There has been a remarkable surge in the popularity of gin in Ireland in recent years,” agreed ABFI Director Patricia Callan, “It is now the fastest-growing spirit among Irish consumers. In response to this demand, Irish producers have developed a strong domestic market and will continue to put an increased focus on exports in the coming years.”
These thoughts are echoed in the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland’s latest report on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Drinks Industry which also agrees that there has been a resurgence in the market for gin in recent years resulting in a large increase in the number of Irish gin producers.
The gin-producing sector also plans to develop a ‘Gin Trail’ similar to the Whiskey Trail. The main target export markets are the UK, Spain, Germany, the USA and Canada.
It’s hard to tell the Premiums from the Super- and Ultra-Premiums in the gin market these days.
Gin itself enjoys the dual qualities of diversity and lightness, two features of the spirit world that do not always partner up.
And gin is gender neutral.
Diageo has predicted that by 2020 Super-Premium will be almost as big as standard in terms of value.
While the Irish Spirits Association noted that gin is the fastest-growing category among consumers in RoI at 31.6% between 2015 and 2016, a recent Mintel/Toluna survey found 26% of people drink gin with a mixer while 11% enjoy it as part of a cocktail. Just 4% take it neat.
Gin variants such as pink gin are also very prominent in orders at the bar right now.
Record Summer for Drumshanbo
Voted Ireland’s Best Gin two years running at the National G&T fest, the popularity of internationally-acclaimed Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is reflected in the remarkable on- and off-trade sales growth this Summer.
Slow-distilled by hand with oriental botanicals & gunpowder tea at The Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney, Drumshanbo sales over May & June are already unprecedented.
Bloom in the Park saw over 5,000 consumers enjoy Drumshanbo’s refreshing signature serve with fresh red Grapefruit & premium Thomas Henry Tonic. It was the official drink of the prestigious Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin Royal Irish Yacht Club Regatta in Dún Laoghaire, the official pour at the Maynooth G&T Fest, the drink of choice for thousands of festival–goers at the National G&T Fest, Galway & Belfast Gin Fests & specially selected by Kodaline for their after-show party at their sold-out Malahide Castle gig in June.
Every bottle is uniquely hand-filled, labelled and sealed by the distillery team.
Apart from Head Distiller Brian Taft, originally from the US, The Shed Distillery team is entirely local. From just two employees on its foundation, it now employs 23 full-timers and works with local suppliers.
Signature Red Grapefruit Serve:
Generous wedge of fresh red Grapefruit
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin – 40ml
Chilled premium tonic eg Thomas Henry – 140ml
Garnish with a thick wedge of red Grapefruit
Served over cubed ice.
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is distributed in Ireland by Dalcassian Wines & Spirits.
Tanqueray No Ten Terrace at Taste of Dublin
World Class Spirits showcased the multi award-winning portfolio of luxury spirits at Taste of Dublin in June.
Visitors were warmly welcomed into the Grapefruit Garden to sip on Tanqueray No Ten cocktails. To add to the flavoursome experience, a ‘Tiny Ten’ vessel – a small copper-pot still filled with fresh citrus fruit and chilled down to create an ice-cold mist – was on tap for visitors pouring citrus ice mist onto their cocktails.
Tanqueray No Ten takes its name from ‘Tiny Ten’, the nickname for its small copper-pot still. Crafted in small batches it features whole citrus fruits including white Grapefruit, Lime and Orange. The inclusion of select botanicals such as Juniper, Coriander and a hint of Chamomile flowers gives the liquid a unique full-bodied character as well as the citrus undertone.
Tanqueray No Ten’s profile lends itself perfectly to an array of Summer serves from a classic G&T dressed with herbs and citrus fruits, to expertly-crafted cocktails with a twist.
For more inspiration, follow Tanqueray:
Larios Rose Gin
Larios, a Strawberry-flavoured gin, has been making gin in Andalusia, Spain, since the 19th Century so it rolled out a refreshing new take on the classic formula with one of everybody’s favourite fruits—Strawberries!
Made with a select blend of botanicals including Wild Juniper and sweet, ripe Strawberries, Larios Rose Gin yields a flavour that’s balanced and delicious—just juicy and sweet enough to be enjoyed in a variety of ways.
Try offering your customers Larios Rose Gin with tonic, ice and Lime-peel as the garnish for a refreshing take on the traditional Gin and Tonic. It’s also a great gin with which to explore new and exciting cocktails.
Larios Rose has soft and fresh citrus notes with aromas of succulent Strawberry complete with a long finish. The pink colour makes it even more appealing.
Made with natural botanicals and natural Strawberry essence, ripe Strawberries give a sweet, tart flavour that’s ideal for jazzing up a variety of cocktails.
Distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.
This is an artisanal Islay gin, made using nine of the classic gin aromatics – Orris Root, Cassia Bark, Coriander Seed etc – which are augmented with a heady harvest of 22 local botanicals, hand-picked by an expert foraging team from the windswept hills, peat bogs and Atlantic shores of this Hebridean island of Islay.
This truly seasonal and exotic serve is then slow “simmer” distilled in a unique Lomond pot-still. It works at low pressure so that the botanicals are slowly and gently coaxed into releasing their complex, signature aromatics.
The result is a highly distinctive, complex, floral gin with outstanding finish and impeccable provenance. In an age of re-badged industrial gins, the Botanist stands out as a truly artisanal, small-batch, hand-crafted labour of love.
Distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.
The creators of Brockmans shared a view that gin could be something more exciting, different and delicious than the traditional brands. So they set out to explore new possibilities in taste and push some boundaries to see where gin could go. They wanted a new-style gin with a recipe that went beyond Juniper into more avant-garde territory, something distinctive that would shake well with new mixers and create exotic cocktails.
Brockmans is intensely smooth with a soft, fruity character derived from the carefully-selected botanicals used in distillation. Italian Juniper Berries provide Pine, Lavender and Camphor notes. Spanish Lemon- and Orange-peel add zesty citrus. But the unique use of dried Wild Blueberries and Blackberries give Brockmans its distinctive flavour.
For cocktails, the smooth taste of Brockmans works exceedingly well in a Martini with a dash of Vermouth and a twist of Lime.
To make the perfect G&T, pour a good measure of Brockmans Gin over 4-5 ice cubes topped with chilled premium tonic. Garnish with a twist of Pink Grapefruit peel and two fresh Blueberries.
Boë Violet Gin
This gin is hand-crafted and lovingly created in small batches under the watchful eye of its Master Distiller in Stirlingshire, Scotland.
Cut to exactly 41.5% ABV Boë Violet gin is truly distinctive with standout qualities.
The subtleties of Boë Violet are all in the selection and preparation of its botanicals – that fine balance of herbs and spices so crucial to its distinctive taste and quality and the unique use of premium spirit.
Juniper Berries and their flavoursome oils are at the heart of the gin distillation. As well as aromatic Coriander and Angelica it includes Ginger, Orris Root and Cassia Bark. Warmth and flavour come from the Grains of Paradise. Orange- and Lemon-peel are there too, delivering a hint of citrus together with Cardamom Seeds, Liquorice, Almonds and the peppery tones of the Cubeb Berry.
The colour of the gin is enhanced by adding natural colour at the end of the process reflecting the sweet taste of violets. It’s incredibly smooth with a distinct presence of gin, slightly spiced, leaving a wonderful lingering delicate finish of sweet violets and when served, distinctively eye-catching.
Martin Miller’s Gin
Martin Miller’s Gin was created in 1999 by gin-lover Martin Miller and two friends David Bromige and Andreas Versteegh.
Distilled in England, it’s blended to 40% ABV using Icelandic spring water giving it its gentle bouquet and trademark softness.
Martin’s aim was simple – create a classic gin to be enjoyed by connoisseurs but most importantly, also attract a new generation of younger gin consumers.
He broke with gin distilling tradition, opting to keep the classic palette of gin botanicals, but instead of distilling them together in one ‘shot’ he experimented with splitting the process into two separate distillations, finding that the best combination was to firstly distil the Juniper and the ‘earthier’ botanicals along with the dried Lime peel.
Then he distilled the bitter Orange- and Lemon-peels separately, combining both back into a single gin distillate. His gin acquired a much better balance between the signature notes of Juniper – essential to any good gin – and the bright, refreshing notes of citrus.
Gilbeys Wines & Spirits markets Martin Miller’s.
Dingle Original Gin
Dingle Original Gin won the Best Irish Gin Award at the Irish Whiskey Awards 2017. It hails from the Dingle Whiskey Distillery which is proudly located along the Wild Atlantic Way in the scenic town of Dingle, Co Kerry. Dingle Gin is characterised as a London dry gin. It has a unique character and flavour profile thanks to the specific choice of locally-sourced botanicals. The combination of flavour elements is macerated in spirit for 24 hours. Then, when the spirit is distilled, it passes through a flavour basket in the neck of the still.
This process underlines the attention to detail that’s an essential part of our approach to the art of distillation. We use, amongst other botanicals, Rowan Berry, Fuchsia, Bog Myrtle, Hawthorn and Heather for a taste of the Kerry landscape.
It’s a formula unknown elsewhere and is calculated, amongst other things, to create a sense of place and provenance.
The spirit is collected at 70% ABV and then cut to 42.5% ABV using the purest of water, which we drawn from our own well, 240 feet below the distillery.
The blend of botanicals delivers a fresh floral character that perfectly balances the traditional Juniper. We recommend to enjoy Dingle Gin in a large glass of ice with tonic, a wedge of Orange, and a sprinkling of Juniper Berries.
Jackford Irish Potato Gin
Jackford Irish Potato Gin, produced by Stafford’s Spirits, is Ireland’s newest premium gin. It stands out from the rest – its main ingredient being an Irish staple, the potato.
Jackford has been very well-received thus far with its eye-catching label, smooth taste and botanical flavour having launched in late May. It was born of the rich, dark soil around Enniscorthy in County Wexford. Conditions here are perfect for growing – humid, temperate and sheltered from Spring frosts. This unique gin is crafted and beautifully balanced, it delivers the earthy tones of the rich Wexford soil complimented by delicate fruit, herbs and warm spice.
The potato base provides the palate with a creamy and smooth texture complimented by the natural sweetness from a unique mix of botanicals. It has a creamy, long finish
with a fruit lining that teases and satisfies.
Stafford’s Spirits plans to open a visitor centre in Enniscorthy in the near future.
For the perfect Summer serve – 50ml of Jackford Gin over ice, top-up with a chilled premium tonic and garnish with fresh Wexford strawberries.
7 Major Awards – Anchor Spirits Ireland’s Thin Gin
One of the most awarded Irish gins, Thin Gin is. It is the only gin to have been voted in the top two Irish gins three years consecutively at the Blind Taste-Tested Irish Whiskey Awards – 2015, 2016 and 2017. No other Irish gin has achieved this. It also holds a ‘Gold Outstanding’ IWSC award for Gin & Tonic. No mean feat for Thin Gin, by Waterford company Anchor Spirits Ireland, makers of Muldoon Irish Whiskey Liqueur and Spike Island Spiced Rum, Thin Gin is a very smooth gin, citrus forward with plenty of native Irish botanicals in the mix and made in very small batches.
The name refers to a person, Isacc Thin, a gin-maker who resided for a time in Waterford City in the early part of the 20th Century. While it’s not one of Thin’s original recipes, it is an homage to his memory. With a new distillery in progress and several more products on the way Anchor Spirits Ireland is steadily growing the company and its portfolio of great premium Irish drinks.
Listoke 1777 premium Irish gin is distilled in the Listoke Distillery in the sleepy village of Tenure in County Louth. The popularity of the liquid and the Listoke Gin School, the only gin school in Ireland, forced the team behind the craft Irish gin to expand their production and educational offering. Listoke 1777 is now distilled in a state-of-the-art, custom-built distillery.
A London Dry-style gin, the Listoke team were unimpressed with the “gimmicks” that had come to swallow the classic G&T and decided to bring gin production back to basics. Nine carefully-selected botanicals give it it’s taste. Listoke is completely naturally-flavoured with botanicals.
Designed as a sipping-gin, it’s smooth and flavoursome enough to be enjoyed neat or with an ice cube. Delicious over ice, a zest of Orange and a premium tonic, Listoke 1777 makes for an unforgettable G&T. It’s robust enough to stand its ground in any cocktail, the flavour from this liquid simply never fades… and it has just been voted the best Gin in Europe by the British Gin Guide.
Visit listokedistillery.ie to find more about the product and the Listoke Gin School.