Cocktail flavour trends are veering in the direction of bitter tastes, giving rise to further demand for quality gin, but which three gin brands will be on everyone’s lips in 2014?
If the crystal ball belonging to our friends in the on-trade is to be believed, bitter will be the taste profile that defines 2014. Classic cocktails like the Negroni, Last Word, and Martini are experiencing a renaissance, generating demand from bartenders for super-premium gins that not only deliver on taste but come with heritage and interesting backgrounds.
And the spirits industry has responded with fervour with what seemed like a million new gins launched in the last 12 months. From London Dry styles to the inclusion of savoury botanicals and a raft of spiced and flavoured gins in between, there is now a gin to suit any occasion and palate.
Innovation generally tends to come from the craft sector, but in this instance gin’s main players are getting involved. Beefeater has long been experimenting with flavours, releasing the limited Summer Edition and Winter Edition in 2010. Diageo has weighed in with Gordon’s Cucumber Crisp – obviously inspired by Hendricks’ success – and the bartender favourite Tanqueray Malacca.
Growth at a snail’s pace
But while bartenders are spoilt for choice, the industry has been delivered a stark warning from analysts that only half the gins currently on the market will still be around in three years’ time. “There are a thousand new premium brands every year,”…“The category is over-saturated, and over the next three years only the strongest brands will survive.” Apparently there is not enough demand to allow all brands to flourish. Euromonitor data shows flat growth in terms of value
(0.1%) and volume (1.6%) for the next five years. In fact the category declined by 3.4% in 2012, despite increased interest in craft spirits in the UK, Germany and the US.
But what does remain clear is that this uplift is and will continue to emerge from the premium segment. Growth may be in the slow lane, but gin is certainly beginning to carve itself a niche among the bartenders of Scandinavia, Spain, Italy and Japan where westernized practices are popular.
The Bacardi-owned brand moved to its new home at Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire, UK, in August 2013, which has been renovated from a derelict mill into a state-of-the-art premium gin distillery and visitor centre and has a “significantly larger” production capacity than its previous abode at G&J Distiller’s – formerly G&J Greenall – in Warrington. With an imaginative creative team behind it, expect big things from Bombay Sapphire in the coming year.
The London-based “craft” distiller expects its international sales to double over the next year as the group enters the US, Canada and Australia. To cope with increased demand from all three new markets, Sipsmith is preparing to move to a larger site in London where a third pot still and small experimental pot still will be installed.
In October the family-owned distiller revealed plans to increase its global business by half in the next two years, by entering the new markets of China, Russia and Japan. To help it reach such an ambitious goal, Hayman’s has brought distillation of its gin portfolio back in-house to its existing premises in Witham. Its new 450-litre pot still is called Marjorie.