Gintrification of the spirits market
While lots of new gins have come to market, the old standards are still there on the backbar, still selling - all of which indicates that with the growth in gin sales has come a degree of consumer confidence but also confusion. What is craft gin? What is not craft gin? What defines craft gin? Similarly, while there has been growth in the premium and super premium gin market, what’s the health of this market here overall? We review today’s gin market.
10 August 2017 | 0
Back in the day, Ireland had but a single gin offering in 2011 where now there are 23 premium gin brands in production or in planning, claims Bord Bia.
Irish gin is in its infancy, so young in fact, that our new distilleries are currently building their roots in the Irish market in preparation for their export efforts and therefore barely visible on the radar, states the Irish food & beverage body.
Directing its eyes Westward it states, “The premium gin market in the USA has grown from 2.1bn cases to 2.8bn cases since 2010, which represents an increase of 33%. This trend, driven largely by the increased popularity of cocktail bars, has not escaped Irish producers.”
Provenance and variance
At home, the rural fields of locality and botanical variance have become part of the purchasing criteria for today’s young adult consumer. But while it’s certainly true that the one-size-fits-all approach no longer meets the need of the contemporary consumer, mainstream and premium gin brands still form the majority of on-trade sales.
And while the market has shown increasing interest in gin cocktails, the call for gin and tonic still enjoys near complete dominance of the consumer demand for gin.
Last year domestic and export gin sales together broke the £1billion barrier in the UK, hitting the £1.25 billion mark in the 12 months to the end of August, according to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association there.
Spoiled for choice
Here, while vodka undeniably dominates the white spirits market, gin’s growth in value has outstripped its growth in volume sales, a strong hint that consumers are happy to hunt down what they consider to be premium gins.
MAT figures from Nielsen to February 2017 indicate that gin holds a 6.7% share by value of the off-trade spirits market and an 11% share of on-trade sales. As such, values have grown by nearly 25% in the off-trade and by 29% in the on-trade in the year to February.
Moving forward to MAT May 2017 figures from Nielsen indicate an overall growth of 31.6% in on-trade values to reach €74 million.
Easy to see, then, why a mind-boggling 43 different brands of gin were being enthusiastically sampled by gin punters at the Celtic Whiskey Shop’s stand at this year’s Taste of Dublin event.
“Gin outside of whiskey has the most brands on the bar represented,” Graeme Loudon, Commercial Director with UK market researchers CGA Strategy, told a Future Trends conference on spirits last year.
The challenge now is for distillers to make their own brand stand out from the plethora of brands out there, he suggested.
Fortunately, the new wave of gin distilleries has been helped by a changing consumer demographic which has left a more youthful profile tracking down anything new in gin.
Hipsters and gin go together like Hip and Hop.
Millennials are not into quantity when they can have quality and innovative gins for their money.
A recent report from Mintel backed this up, finding that while the older demographic remains faithful to the established market standards, gin has become increasingly popular with the younger demographic which wants to know the provenance and heritage of the gin brands now out there and they want to know more about the botanicals used.
But a note of caution has been sounded for suppliers. Regular contributor to just-drinks in the UK Richard Woodard has suggested that, “What we’re witnessing from London to Lisbon is a premium-and-above gin boom, not a total gin boom.”
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin
With its refreshing signature grapefruit serve, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is the perfect choice for relaxed garden parties and warm evenings with friends this Summer. Gunpowder Irish Gin is slow-distilled by hand with oriental botanicals and gunpowder tea. The super-premium Dalcassian Wines & Spirits-distributed gin is the result of the curious mind of PJ Rigney’s travels and passionate exploration. His curious mind, filled with the great oriental traditions of distilling fruit, herbs and botanicals, has fused oriental botanicals with local Irish ones to create this fresh citrus-tasting gin with spicy notes, all slow-distilled by hand in medieval copper pot stills. Fresh Chinese lemons, Kaffir limes and oriental grapefruits are vapour-infused along with the exotic gunpowder tea to give a truly unique gin experience.
Signature Red Grapefruit Serve ingredients
140ml chilled premium tonic
Generous wedge of red grapefruit
Serve over cubed ice and garnish with a thick wedge of fresh red grapefruit.
Von Hallers Gin
Dalcassian Wines & Spirits has just launched Von Hallers Gin, the second super-premium brand from The Shed Distillery. Von Hallers Gin is created in Germany and crafted in Ireland.
Count Carl Von Hardenberg Jr came over to learn the craft of hand-distillation at The Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, where he discovered Irish botanicals and distilling with gleaming copper pot stills – a method unchanged since medieval times.
On his return to Germany Carl began to dream of a gin that would combine the meticulous approach of his homeland with the freedom and inventiveness of Ireland. He began at the famous Göttingen Botanical Gardens established in 1736 by the physician, poet and – above all- botanist, Albrecht Von Haller.
In Göttingen, Carl hand-picks German ginger and lemon verbena and brings them to be distilled slowly with Irish angelica at The Shed Distillery. The outcome is a remarkable gin, distinctive, pure and born of two traditions: wholly German, fully Irish and altogether unique.
For a Summer cocktail with a difference, combine the aromatic Von Hallers gin with the refreshing zing of lime juice and fresh ginger.
Ginger Gimlet Ingredients
50ml Von Hallers Gin
40ml Lime Juice Cordial
10ml Fresh Lime Juice
Muddle ginger in the base of a shaker and add all ingredients. Shake with ice and fine-strain into a chilled glass. Finish with a spritz of lime and garnish with fresh ginger.
Launched only in January, Glendalough Distillery’s new Wild Botanical Gin has already scooped its first major award: a Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, known in the trade as ‘The Oscars of the Spirits Industry’.
Glendalough Distillery’s Wild Botanical Gin is the newest addition to the company’s established and award-winning stable of gins.
It uses fresh botanicals (never dried) from the Wicklow hills, carefully and sustainably foraged from March to October by Geraldine Kavanagh, which are then slow-distilled by stillman Rowdy Rooney.
Bottled at 41% ABV, Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin is beautifully presented in the distillery’s distinctive and evocative packaging complete with the outstretched figure of the fabled Saint Kevin.
The new gin was launched at an invite-only party that featured Brian O’Driscoll and Amy Huberman and the feedback on the locally-foraged spirit to date has been so positive that the company is distilling twice a day just to keep up with demand.
Glendalough was Ireland’s first craft distillery.
Determined to carve their own way, a few friends from Dublin and Wicklow founded the company to revive Ireland’s lost heritage of great spirits distillation and create innovative, exciting brands.
Together, they harnessed 14 centuries of Irish spirits-making tradition that stretches back to the monks who made the world’s first distilled spirit—poitín—as early as 584 AD.
On every Glendalough Distillery bottle, the image of St Kevin represents the distillery’s embrace of this ancient heritage and the wildly independent Irish character.
The Glendalough range includes Poitín, Whiskey (7 & 13 Year-Old Single Malts and its Double Barrel whiskey), Seasonal Gins and now Wild Botanical Gin.
Blackwater No5 Gin
Blackwater No5 is a classic gin, distilled in Cappoquin from the purest spirit, the finest botanicals and soft local water.
When looking for inspiration for Blackwater No5 Gin, Blackwater Distillery’s Peter Mulryan didn’t look at the local hedgerow but rather into the local archives where he dug into Ireland’s rich and overlooked maritime past.
In the Victorian period White’s of Waterford was one of the largest importers of spices in the Kingdom. It also ran a shipyard and its vessels criss-crossed the globe importing tea from China and botanicals from the impossibly romantic ‘Spice Islands’. These botanicals were landed in Waterford, then sent by steamer up the Blackwater River. They were landed at the pier in Cappoquin, barely a kilometre from the distillery and from there these precious goods were dispatched to the great Anglo-Irish houses in the valley.
Blackwater No5 Gin was designed from top to bottom using only the botanicals imported into Ireland by White’s of Waterford during the 19th Century. In the dusty archives Peter found a treasure trove of botanicals once popular but now overlooked. He distilled each and every one of these spices; some weren’t so great but two were spectacular and they lie at the heart of Blackwater No5 Gin.
What are the key trends you see taking shape in the gin category ?
At the moment in Ireland it’s pretty much a free-for-all, with some gins of questionable provenance and quality coming on the market. This is something you just don’t see in the UK as the bar there for white spirits is so much higher than here. In the end, quality will out and there are some exceptional world-beating Irish gins out there.
How do you differentiate your product(s) from those of your competitors?
Using local botanicals is pretty much all about marketing, not about taste. We only use ingredients that add to the character of the gin and when we do use a local botanical, for example the strawberries in our Wexford Strawberry Gin, then it’s the hero botanical.
Will product innovation play a part in your 2017/2018 plans ?
We’re constantly innovating; our Juniper Cask Gin is a classic example of that. We have more projects coming in 2018. Whatever we do it won’t be dull.
Tonic of choice
An adjunct development to the boom in premium gin sales has been a demand for specific ‘premium’ tonics from consumers to match their gin choice.
Exceptional ‘Gins of the World’ collection from Counterpoint Ireland
The excitement surrounding the growth of the gin category and the introduction of new gin brands globally has led to many commentators writing about a ‘gin revolution’.
Last year Counterpoint Ireland answered the request of many of its customers to provide a tonic water and range of mixers that were super-premium in quality and held in high esteem by mixologists and industry experts in Europe.
The Thomas Henry mixer range answered that call and has been very well-received by many of Ireland’s leading cocktail bars and luxury venues.
This year Counterpoint decided to compliment the Thomas Henry offering by travelling around Europe to find some of the most exquisite gins available and offer them to gin enthusiasts under the combined name of the ‘Gins of the World‘ collection. This selection of six exceptionally-crafted gins represents unique recipes that tie the use of specific botanicals to the producer’s hinterland, a concept hugely personal to the owners and their aspiration to create truly luxury spirits.
Shortcross Gin was the dreamchild of David and Fiona Boyd-Armstrong who built a small distillery with a stunning copper pot-still at Crossgar, Co Down. Authenticity is at the heart of Shortcross as David and Fiona use botanicals growing around their Rademon Estate Distillery such as wild clover, elderflowers, elderberries and home-grown apples to make their sublime gin which has just won a Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017.
Shortcross has won awards at some of the world’s leading spirits competitions including San Francisco, International Wine & Spirits and Gin Masters, making it the most-awarded gin in Ireland.
Stephan Garbe from Hamburg fell in love with Portugal and the dream of making his own gin. He decided to leave his advertising job and use rich fruits and botanicals from the Algarve to create his ‘hand-made’ Gin Sul.
The term ‘small batch production’ can genuinely be applied to Gin Sul as it’s distilled in a petite 100 litre copper pot still. Stephan’s Gin Sul is a citrus melody of Algarve lemons with an aroma from the Portuguese Rockrose.
Beat Sidler & Gustav Inglin set out to fashion a London Dry gin, the most popular type of gin globally, with the most exceptionally pure ingredients available in Breil Pur Gin. Imagine using Swiss Alpine organic ingredients including hand-picked Swiss Alps junipers, Alpine roses & chocolate mint then distilling them in a copper-still fired wood kiln!
Breil Pur Gin is an exquisite hand-made gin that lives up to the term luxury in every respect.
Barcelona has recently enjoyed being sought out by food lovers as a haven for exceptional restaurant fare. Rosendo Mateu (master perfumer), Sergi Figueras (mixologist), Javier Caballero (sommelier) and Xano Saguer (chef) came together to create GinRaw, a gin that lives up to the gourmet standards of Barcelona. It has floral, herbal and spicy aspects with rich citric overtures that bear hallmark to the talent of its creators.
GinRaw uses a ‘low temperature’ distillation process popular in the kitchens of Michelin Star restaurants to ensure that the essences of ingredients such as lemon peel, Kaffir lime leaves, black cardamom and coriander are transported to the finished liquid.
At the deluxe end of the gin market, few gins have won as many awards and been spoken about as being ‘amongst the world’s finest’ as Siegfried Gin. Raphael Vollmar and Gerald Koenen distill their gin in the German Rhineland. Siegfried is a classic juniper dry gin made using 18 botanicals. It’s the use of Linden blossoms and their warm honey and Jasmin notes that make this gin stand out.
The final gin in the Collection is Citedelle Gin. Alexandre Gabriel found an 18th Century recipe for a jenever (the original gin drink) from the Royal French Citadelle Distillery at Dunkirk and decided to distil a gin using the Cognac stills of the Maison Ferrand Distillery in France. Citadelle Gin is produced using 19 botanicals and is renowned for being crisp and smooth, a characteristic believed to come from using the Cognac stills. Citadelle Gin has won many awards including double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Competition.
For information regarding the Gins of the World Collection contact Counterpoint Ireland on 1890 276 468.
Listoke Distillery’s Listoke 1777 Premium Irish Gin and Ireland’s first Gin School
Listoke 1777 Gin, a sophisticated new Irish Gin launched in October 2016, set spirits rising amongst all those interested in gin. Distilled in small batches in a 200 year-old converted stable building, Listoke 1777 has given new life to spirit production. The stable is a perfect setting for bespoke gin production and also houses Ireland’s first and only gin school. The guardians of Listoke estate have a deep connection to distilling giants here and in Scotland.
Listoke 1777 (ABV 43.3%) has a very distinctive taste, tantalising the entire palate, containing the ‘Holy Trinity’ of botanicals – juniper, coriander and angelica – in addition to a further six, all of which grow on Listoke Estate.
Listoke gin can be enjoyed neat, with ice, or with a premium tonic and always with a twist of orange. Listoke also stands its ground firmly in a variety of cocktails.
Having various backgrounds in a variety of industries, the Listoke team is an experienced one with a focused plan.
Quickly picked up by the Loop in October 2016 Listoke 1777 remained in Dublin Airport exclusively until February 2017. Monaghan Bottlers & MCM Brands now distribute it nationwide.
“We love the team behind Listoke 1777… The drinks trade is still about people as well as product,” comments MCM’s Paul Flynn.
For all trade enquiries contact Monaghan Bottlers or MCM Brands’ William Doogan, 087-2799855, email@example.com
Hendrick’s Gin is a most unusual tipple. Imbibed by the inquisitive throughout the year, its devoted pursuit of the unusual comes alive in the glorious months of Summer as the days become longer and curiosities are piqued.
This Summer, Hendrick’s prepares consumers for an unprecedented panoply of sensory enlightenment as they relish in the first days of heat and Summer with the Hendrick’s Summer Mule tipple.
Hendrick’s Summer Mule cocktail
This floral, fruity and fizzy delight is sure to quench your customers’ thirst.
50ml Hendrick’s gin
20ml fresh lime juice
10ml elderflower cordial
8 leaves of catnip
Topped with ginger beer
Character: Fruity, floral, fizzy; Skill level: Intermediate
Add cucumber to glass and break with muddler. Add other ingredients and build all together over cracked ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish.
Hendricks Gin is a deliciously super premium gin produced by William Grant & Sons launched in Scotland in 1999.
Please visit www.hendricksgin.com for a most unusual online experience.
Brockmans was created by four friends in 2009. They shared a view that gin could be something more exciting, different and delicious than the traditional brands which had dominated for so many years. So they set out to explore new possibilities in taste and push some boundaries to see where gin could go. Brockmans set out to be different.
The founders wanted a new-style gin, one with a recipe that went beyond juniper, into more avant-garde territory.
Like no other gin 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 gives Brockmans its most distinctive flavor.
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 2 fresh blueberries. The sharp acidity of grapefruit and the floral notes of blueberry combine beautifully with the unique botanicals of Brockmans.
For a simple variation, replace the peel with a fresh, halved strawberry, or try Ginger Ale instead of tonic for a G&G. Garnish with a thin slice of fresh ginger and two blueberries.
Shortcross Gin is a premium small batch gin, distilled in the heart of County Down at Rademon Estate by Fiona and David Boyd-Armstrong. Attention to detail is key throughout the distillation process and afterwards the gin is hand-bottled, sealed with wax and finished with Fiona and David signing each bottle.
The process may be slow but it’s a true craft, making each Shortcross bottle as unique as its owners. Launched in 2014 and now the most awarded gin on the isle of Ireland, Shortcross Gin is a classical gin style with a unique twist, best described as floral meadows, wild berries and grassy notes.
It’s best enjoyed with a premium tonic water and four orange ice cubes. To find out more, visit shortcrossgin.com or keep up-to-date on facebook, twitter and Instagram at @ShortcrossGin.
For wholesale enquiries, please contact Counterpoint.
Q&As with Fiona and David Boyd-Armstrong
Key trends appearing in the Gin category?
From a distilling perspective, we believe there will be trends towards using more local botanicals, something that we’ve focused and built upon with Shortcross Gin from the very beginning. We see this tied to an expansion in the number of new expressions being released by distilleries. On the back of this we see a real movement towards honesty and authenticity as both consumers and bartenders seek to learn more about the gins they’re drinking, with a strong focus around where it is distilled and bottled.
How do you emphasise your Point Of Differeence?
With Shortcross Gin we wanted to create a gin reminiscent of our surroundings; we take our inspirations from the forests and gardens of Rademon Estate. Shortcross is a classical gin with a modern twist; it’s a juniper-forward gin and it’s these unique flavours, aromas and quality which have led Shortcross to stand proud as Ireland’s most-awarded gin. We believe Shortcross is a great gin but to have international recognition and win awards, with the latest being a Gold medal at the San Fransico World Spirits Competition 2017, adds to its accreditation. We also undertake every step from distilling through to bottling, waxing and labelling each bottle on-site, allowing us to ensure each bottle meets our exacting expectations!
How important is innovation to you going forward?
Innovation is a theme that runs through all Shortcross sister expressions. We continually strive for perfection; whilst there are many innovations in the gin market, we only release those that challenge and provide a unique experience. We’re the first and only gin in the world to distil with wild clover; we sourced wine casks to create the first Cask Aged Gin in Ireland; Autumnal botanicals from our walled garden featured in our recent collaboration with That Boutique-y Gin Company for the Shortcross Batch #1 .
Further expressions take time and just like Shortcross we like to offer something a little special. We’re particularly excited to see how the recipe will develop when Alan Glynn of 37 Dawson Street, Dublin, the winner of the Shortcross Signature Serve 2017, joins us to create a new gin expression.
“Gin made the way it used to be and the way we believe it should be” is the motto of the Sipsmith London Dry Gin brand distributed here by Barry & Fitzwilliam. It was born out of a desire to see gin production return to the city where it earned its name. With a nod to traditional hand-crafted production, this gin combines traditional copper pot distillation with a recipe that wouldn’t look unfamiliar to an 18th Century Master Distiller.
Barry & Fitzwilliam represents an unrivalled range of premium gins from across the globe: The London Number 1 (London), Copperhead (Belgium), Damrak (Holland), Larios (Spain), Sipsmith (London) and the iconic The Botanist from the island of Islay in Scotland as well as local gins such as Dingle.
Tanqueray No Ten partners with The Gate Theatre
Tanqueray No Ten is proud to partner with The Gate Theatre in Dublin this Summer for its immersive production of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby which runs from 6th July to 16th September.
The theatre has been transformed into the Gatsby Mansion with all its decadent opulence and art-deco atmosphere. Guests will be invited to enjoy a signature Tanqueray No Ten and tonic while feeling completely immersed in the legendary story through a unique portal into Fitzgerald’s much-celebrated novel.
The cast is led by actress Charlene McKenna, who makes her Irish stage debut as Daisy while charismatic young actor Paul Mescal is cast in the lead role of Gatsby, straight out of his graduating year of drama school at The Lir Academy at Trinity.
They’ll be performing alongside stalwarts of Irish theatre such as Owen Roe as Wolfsheim and Marty Rea as Nick Carraway.
At just 20, Charles Tanqueray was already a creator and an innovator who chose to follow his passion for science and invention to create a gin far better than the gins of his day. After persevering in his experiments for six years, Charles created the perfectly-balanced Tanqueray London Dry from four botanicals – a recipe so extraordinary that it remains unchanged to this day.
180 years after its invention, Tanqueray remains the favourite spirit of the world’s best bartenders, chosen by them as the foundation for their own extraordinary creations. Tanqueray No Ten takes its name from ‘Tiny Ten’, the nickname of the small copper pot still where every drop is produced, but there’s nothing minor about its flavour.
Bombay Sapphire, the world’s No 1 Premium Gin
Bombay Sapphire was recently awarded the prestigious Double Gold and Gold medal at the 17th San Francisco World Spirits Competition, considered the most influential spirits competition in the World and 2017 was the biggest in its 17 year history, featuring more than 2,100 entries.
Based on a 1761 recipe created by pioneering English distiller Thomas Dakin, to this day Bombay Sapphire continues to be made using the artisanal Vapor Infusion distillation process at the Laverstoke Mills distillery in Hampshire. Launched in the 1980s, the striking translucent blue glass bottle rejuvenated and reinvented the gin category. Bombay Sapphire was the first premium gin to showcase the importance of its botanicals, hand-selected from exotic locations around the world by Bombay Sapphire’s Master of Botanicals Ivano Tonutti. The gin features 10 carefully selected botanicals from the four corners of the earth which give the gin its distinctive and balanced flavour.
You can get creative with your G&T by adding various garnishes, syrups and bitters as they change the flavour profile of the gin. However, simple complementary garnishes are best because they support and accentuate the existing flavour profile without masking or diluting its flavour. Bombay Sapphire has released three Bombay Sapphire & Tonic Twists this year, mint and ginger, orange and black peppercorn and lemon and thyme. Each of these garnishes are selected because they help highlight one or more of the 10 botanicals.
Orange &Peppercorn Twist
For this variation, the orange will complement the citrus notes in Bombay Sapphire from the coriander seed and lemon peel. The black peppercorn then accentuates Angelica in Bombay Sapphire.
50ml Bombay Sapphire
Wedge of fresh orange
3 cracks of peppercorn
100ml premium tonic water
Orange peel to garnish
Crack 3 black peppercorns into a balloon glass with a bar spoon. Add juice of freshly squeezed orange. Fill with ice. Add Bombay Sapphire. Pour chilled tonic water down a bar spoon. Stir drink and garnish with orange zest and black peppercorns.