To provide a valuable range of views on the future of the gin industry, The Gin Guide has sought the input of key industry influencers who individually and collectively hold a well-rounded insight into distilleries and gin brands, consumers, events and festivals, bars and venues, retailers, and gin awards.
The extent of future growth in the gin industry, the evolution of the industry and innovation in products, and the 'gin bubble' (whether it will 'burst') have all been key talking points of 2018. In Part Two we cover the views of industry experts on:
Product Innovation & Collaborations
As the gin industry continues to grow and mature, an increased level of product innovation is anticipated, as well as more collaborations within the industry and with other industries.
Sarah Miller writes that "the boom will also encourage further innovation and evolution. Following in the footsteps of the craft beer industry we can expect to see even more collaborations - such as 2018's Four Pillars x Hernö Dry Island Gin and Turncoat's Dragon Tears Gin produced in collaboration with Manchester's Blackjack Brewery - with the opportunities to share knowledge and diversify audiences that they offer."
Developments in specific product areas may be seen:
"There have been some great new Navy strength gin releases in 2018 and I suspect this happy bandwagon will continue into 2019", writes Simon Higgs. And Sarah Miller notes that "just as we've seen huge growth in low/no alcohol beers, we may also see more gin-inspired non-alcoholic "spirits".
Innovation in Distilleries & Events
Innovation in events and gin experiences is also expected as gin producers and brands continue to explore and go to new lengths to capture and hold the interest of gin lovers.
Natalie Button comments that "Whilst new distilleries pop up left, right and centre, I envisage existing distilleries making moves to stand out from the crowd. Over the past couple of months there have been some interesting moves by several distilleries towards a more multi-sensory approach to gin."
"Some distilleries have been doing similar things for some time, for example Bombay Sapphire offer a fantastic hands-on gin experience at Laverstoke Mill and Brockmans Gin run immersive 'Press For Gin' events. There seems to have been a recent flurry in similar ideas which I feel may gather some momentum in 2019, such as That Boutique-y Gin Company's Olfactor-y Gins (nostalgic, perfume-inspired gins designed to take you on a sensory journey) and Silent Pool Gin's collaborations with Cambridge Audio and Professor Barry Smith to uncover the unique relationship between sound and taste."
Changes are also anticipated in how gin consumers use gin at home.
Simon Higg's observes that "home cocktail crafting is on the rise, those providing simple recipes for a DIY Negroni, Tom Collins and even Clover Club will be strengthening their hand." and Natalie Button writes that "there is a lot to be said for food pairings and using gin in cooking. As more people have more gin in their homes, I'm pretty sure it's going to work it's way in there.".
Growth or Decline (and Brexit)
Continued growth is expected for existing producers and in the number of new producers, while the prediction of a 're-balancing' is also raised.
Natalie Button supports this: "Gin has only gone from strength to strength, and in my personal opinion I don't see it stopping anytime soon."
Meanwhile, Simon Higgs questions if this continued success will be enjoyed by all those in the industry. Simon writes, "While the market will continue to grow, I suspect this might be the year when many of the enthusiastic start ups from recent years will see their enthusiasm wain and we will see a re-balancing begin."
"I hope that we don't lose too many of the good independents because they don't also have a head for sales and marketing. It is no good making a great product if you don't know how to take it to market. My fear is, that in the re-balancing years to come, those with the ability to manipulate social media will replace those who have the ability to create the finest gins."
Martin Reid writes, "Year on year sales will show positive signs of an increase and there will continue to be new brands coming to market" and also comments on the uncertainty and potential impact of Brexit:
"Regardless of how people voted, a massive part of the UK Gin supply chain is based in the EU. Juniper suppliers, bottle suppliers and more. We hope that any impact of the UK leaving the EU will not have a negative long-term impact on gin makers and their production costs. It will be interesting to see if leaving the EU will be a negative or positive on how Gin is legally classified as a juniper based spirit at a minimum 37.5% ABV."
The Gin Bubble
The 'Gin Bubble' and if it will 'burst' became a regular topic in 2018. The common view is that it is not going to 'burst'.
Natalie Button plays down any concerns about the future growth of the gin industry: "2018 saw the masses talking about the "gin bubble", which was often described as ever inflating and on the verge or bursting...well that didn't happen did it?!". And Sarah Miller states that "The bubble is not about to burst, so 2019 will be defined by how the drinks industry reacts to the public's continued, insatiable demand for gin."
Paul Jackson writes that "There is no 'gin bubble'. Gin has a long history and the more recent growth hasn't been as sudden as many report it to have been. Rapidly growing industries do see growth rates slow and some natural attrition of producers and brands, and this doesn't mean that sales, the consumer base or the market value stops growing. However, to ensure the longevity of this we must also not rest on our laurels or over-exploit the market."
"Furthermore, the gin market also extends well beyond the UK and much of the rest of the world is embracing gin. Export markets are presenting increasingly vast opportunities for the growth of UK and international gin distilleries and brands, and the value of the UK and global gin market can be expected to grow for many years to come."
What are your views on the 'gin bubble', growth and innovation in the gin industry, and the potential positive or negative impacts of Brext on the gin industry? Let us know in the comments below or on social media:
In case you missed it, don't forget to go back and read Part One: Regulation, Transparency & 'Novelty' Gin