THE UK is the midst of a gin renaissance. Last year, gin sales at home and abroad smashed all records. In the UK, sales broke the £1bn mark for the first time while overseas more British gin was sold than ever before, worth almost half a billion pounds.
The renewed love affair with gin has seen it become such a common sight in our shopping basket that the official statistics body has reintroduced the spirit in a typical “basket of a goods” that it uses to calculate inflation. The Office for National Statistics has not included the price of gin in inflation calculations for 13 years.
The emergence of new-style gins and premium mixers is driving these sales, notably in gastro pubs. One company which has been boosted by the resurgence in the quintessentially British spirit is Brockmans, which offers a super-premium product at £34 a bottle.
Last Friday, it toasted record results, Sales volumes in the year jumped 67 per cent to more than 40,000 9-litre cases, equivalent to almost 15m single measures. UK revenue was up at massive 245 per cent.
Forget warm gin with a slice of lemon in a high glass: Brockmans is best served with blueberries and grapefruit rind in a balloon glass which was first made popular in Spain. Distilled in England using 11 quality botanicals from around the world, it is bottled in Lancashire.
Brockmans dates back to 2008. With a background in drinks giant Allied Domeq, co-founder and CEO Neil Everitt spotted a gap in the market for a refreshing gin. As he puts it: “There was not much happening in gin.
“The gin and tonic many of us grew up with was very traditional, with a nameless mixer. Gin as a category had not innovated at all until a decade ago. We wanted to make a really smooth gin, easier to drink than London dry.”
He wanted to create a gin that was not just an aperitif, but could be drunk all evening. After experimenting with botanicals he and his co-founder Bob Fowkes came up with something “less junipery” and smoother than traditional dry gin. For him, the theatre of pouring and serving it is also part of the Brockmans’ experience.
Since then, the company has enjoyed double digit growth in countries with an established “gin habit” such as the UK and Spain which account for around half the company’s sales.
Brockmans sees no let up in sight, harbouring ambitious plans to take the current output of 40,000 cases of gin up to 100,000 by 2020. Everitt believes there is room to grow
n in the UK, while the US and South America are seen as particularly promising markets for the company which already exports to 27 countries and has seven more on its radar for this summer. “The UK is three to four years behind Spain and the US is three to four years behind the UK,” he explains.
In the US, Brockmans is ranked the fourth most popular super-premium gin in New York. Last year, it entered 11 new international markets including France, Sweden, Dubai and Indonesia
Distribution and marketing are key to achieving the growth plan, he believes.
Brockmans is sold in Punch Taverns and Greene King pubs, Wine Rack off-licences as well as at Harvey Nichols and in more than 115 branches of Marks and Spencer. It is also rolling out in gastro pubs which are in keeping with its brand.
The company is active on social media including Facebook, where it engages with its target customer. Everitt says: “People are looking for discovery. They want something they can take to a dinner party. For the previous generation it is wine; now it is gin with a funky label and botanicals.”
It helps that gin is the base for many cocktails. A proliferation of gin festivals around the country has also served Brockmans well. In the US, craft distilleries which have down time while whisky matures are behind a growing gin culture.
Everitt is obviously passionate about the business which he calls his “third daughter”. He rules out moving into other drinks or gin varieties in the belief that the one he has is already “the best”. He is determined to reach the 100,000 target which he says is tattooed on the inside of this eyelids.
Having been successful in launching a brand, what advice would he give to budding entrepreneurs? “Be very clear about your vision. Judge everything against that. Do not make decisions based on yesterday.”
Cheers to that.