He claims a vital part of the ‘gin revival’ has been the availability of premium tonics, enhancing the natural gin flavours.
He said: “A key element in the gin revival has, without doubt, been the advent of quality premium tonics, which enable the individual flavours of gin to shine through.
“New premium mixer products now seek to play a role in what is a vital supporting act. Many are also playing an important role, alongside gin brands themselves, in encouraging imaginative and attractive on-trade gin serves, whether an interesting and well-presented gin and tonic or an offer from a limited range of gin-based cocktails.”
Cook also said the combination of mainstream brands alongside new and often local craft gin brands has whetted the appetite of consumers.
He added: “While there may be a point at which there is saturation in the number of gin brands that can be supported by the market – and of course some brands may fail to capture consumer imagination or fail in their marketing (or even, dare one say, just not meet the quality and uniformity or taste profiles necessary) – I can’t see this renewed interest in the gin category disappearing, based as it is on a more sophisticated and more demanding consumer.”
The importance of heritage
Cook explained that consumers want to know the story behind their tipple including knowing about the producers of gin.
He said: “They love what is often quirky artisan crafted gin and the personal stories behind them.
“The individualism of manufacture and botanicals as well as package design are all key to sales and interest.’
“The mainstream brands have also worked hard to build interest and as a result, due to the combined buzz and category interest, there has been £1bn of UK gin sales in the past 12 months.”
However, the gin bubble isn’t just tied to the UK. Cook claims other key markets include America, Spain, Germany and Italy, each with its own style of the spirit.
He said: “There are also style variants. The USA has some particularly imaginative contemporary ‘New Western’ interpretations and several German and Swiss gins and others from that region (reflecting the taste for very botanical fruit spirit production) also have very distinctive multi-botanical gins (such as Monkey 47).
“These may be a shock to UK palates. The great thing about the gin category is that (within reason), the category definitions (principally the EU definitions) are loose enough to allow a wide range of flavours, providing that as required juniper, the key botanical, is predominant.
“If the US market is anything to go by the gin brand market in the UK is still in a growth spurt.”
So many gins, so little time
Cook said the market for gin was so large with many different options for consumers to consider, the only answer was to try them.
He added: “So many gins, so little time.”
The Gin Guild was set up by the London’s Worshipful Company of Distillers in 2012 and Cook said: “The creation of the body was very timely. It was just before what has been an explosion in gin brands, both in the UK and beyond.
“The member-funded industry brings together gin distillers and industry leaders involved in the production, promotion, distribution and consumption of gin.
“It promotes and encourages excellence in the category and plays a key role in both consumer and trade education and is an important go-to gin information source for both trade and non-trade press.”
The body has almost 200 members who represent not only four big distillers (Bacardi, Chivas Brothers Diageo, William Grant & Sons), but also brands from Adnams to Warner Edwards, and with members from Spain, France, Italy, USA, Russia, Mexico, Canada, Liechtenstein, Norway, Finland, Belgium and Japan, with enquiries from Sweden, Iceland and even Sri Lanka.