No end to the gin boom

Gin is one of the absolute boom segments among the spirits.
© / User: Maatla Kebs

Gin is one of the hottest segments in the spirits world. This category is growing in practically every important market around the world. Germany is part of this success story as well.

Gin is a phenomenon: On the whole, the German market for spirits is stagnating, but gin, which is made from juniper berries, has been steadily gaining market share for years. According to IWSR, a market research institute with international scope, gin sales nearly doubled between 2012 and 2017. The sales curve provided by Information Resources likewise shows a steep climb, with 17.73 million bottles of gin (including the Dutch or Belgian variant Genever) sold last year in grocery stores. That’s an increase of some 48 percent over 2017.

There seems to be no end to the growth, and indeed, forecasts call for the upward trend to continue – both on the German market and in nearly every country around the world where a significant amount of gin is consumed. For instance, the IWSR calculates a further surge of some 22 percent by 2023 in the United States, which – at a current volume of 64.7 million liters – is the largest gin market in the world. Particularly strong increases can also be seen on the British market, which could even grow by 80 percent during the same period, according to experts. Currently, the UK is in second place internationally at 50.4 million liters. The IWSR shows a volume of 8.3 million liters in Germany, but here as well, the institute assumes enormous potential with growth of 88 percent over the next five years.

Gin: “The industry’s success story”

So it’s no wonder that distillers and distributors are feeling optimistic about the future. Over the last 10 years, gin has become “the industry’s success story,” says a pleased Tanya Clarke, General Manager of Diageo Reserve Europe. She is convinced the trend will continue. This growth curve encouraged Diageo to add an Italian specialty to its duo of the big and enduringly successful sellers Gordon’s and Tanqueray: In May the producer presented its super-premium Villa Ascenti brand.

There is clearly a demand for such high-end products: Market research suggests that the fastest-growing segments in Europe are the super and ultra-premium categories. For the time being, Villa Ascenti will be available in 14 European countries, including Germany.

Gin zählt in den letzten 10 Jahren zu einer Erfolgsgeschichte am Markt
© Adobe Stock / Igor Normann

Diageo’s competitor Pernod Ricard is likewise banking on an Italian pedigree: In September it will introduce its high-end Malfy gin to the German market, with a range of four types that are due to be available soon in 30 countries. People’s appetite for gin is “insatiable,” stresses Thomas Drossé, Managing Director for Sales at Pernod Ricard Deutschland, in conjunction with the launch.

But how can you explain the fact that today’s German consumers keep reaching for a beverage that was practically insignificant on the domestic market at the beginning of the millennium? Philipp Sorbi, Senior Brand Manager for Lifestyle Brands at Beam Suntory, sees one explanation in the craft beverages movement and the associated opportunities for creativity through handcrafted products. In contrast, Bacardi’s Marketing Director for Germany & the Alps Tjalling Simoons points to the gin’s retro vibe that falls in line with current trends, and he believes its long history and the wealth of varieties are also attractive to consumers.

Innumerable gin brands crowd onto the market

Indeed, in recent years so many new brands and varieties of gin have come onto the market that even experts sometimes lose their overview. For instance, the online shop operated by the major Hamburg spirits dealer Weinquelle Lühmann offers no fewer than 423 different gins from 27 countries – from Argentina to Wales. It is interesting to note that 107 of these gins are from Germany, which takes second place only to England (108 products).

Industry experts also see the high number of domestic innovations as a reason for the huge demand – for example, the success of Monkey 47, a brand based in the Black Forest, or Ferdinand’s Saar Dry Gin from the German state of Saarland, which the Hamburg distributor Borco-Marken-Import started selling in July. This regional gin has won over the hearts of consumers in an era “where authenticity and regionality are increasingly prized and demanded by consumers,” says Borco’s Managing Director Dr. Tina Ingwersen-Matthiesen.

The gin market is enjoying a global upswing. Strong growth by 2023 is expected especially in the following key markets: Great Britain, the Philippines, South Africa, Brazil, Uganda, Germany, Australia, Italy, Canada and France.

And when it comes to gin, the effort that producers put into making a great product provides some insight into what potential they continue to see in this classic beverage with its wide range of varieties. Last year, for instance, Jägermeister formed its first strategic partnership so that it could get a taste of Gin Sul’s success, and Bacardi continues to invest in line extensions for Bombay Sapphire, most recently the limited edition English Estate, which is finished with three new botanicals.

A bounty of new taste sensations

Increasingly, brands are deviating from the pure, tradiotional juniper berry flavor in their gins. Puerto de Indias, for instance, which MBG added to its sales portfolio in spring, features orange flower, vanilla and jasmine aromas in addition to its juniper flavor. And the Spanish brand’s Strawberry Gin adds – as do other pink gins – the flavor of sweet strawberries.

Connoisseurs who are looking for new taste have no shortage of options, as Ingwersen-Matthiesen knows: The popularity of gin is partly attributable to the “different tastes that can be achieved with botanicals,” she says, and highlights gin’s suitability as an ingredient in a wide variety of drinks. Meanwhile, there is even an alcohol-free type of gin that is gaining space on retail shelves or at the bar. Most recent examples include Siegfried Wonderleaf from Rheinland Distillers or Fluère from Dutch VOC Spirits.

Connoisseurs who are looking for new taste have no shortage of options, as Ingwersen-Matthiesen knows: The popularity of gin is partly attributable to the “different tastes that can be achieved with botanicals,” she says, and highlights gin’s suitability as an ingredient in a wide variety of drinks.
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But with or without alcohol, it’s still unclear which individual players will over the long term from the gin trend. Ultimately perhaps only a few brands will prevail in a market characterized by a nearly unmanageable number of specialty products. But the industry is largely in agreement on one thing: On the whole, gin’s potential has not been exhausted by any means.

Anyone who is interested in the technical background of the distillation of spirits will find the right forum at the world’s leading trade fair for the industry, drinktec in Munich, where exhibitors from all over the world present their solutions – from stills to bottling facilities. The next drinktec will take place from September 13 to 17, 2021.

Barbara Rademacher

Barbara Rademacher worked for 18 years as an editor for a renowned trade magazine for the beverage industry. In July 2018, the trained journalist and her long-time colleague Dirk Omlor founded a text and consulting office with the central project