UK’s ‘gin renaissance’ continues with sales set to top £1bn for first time

Gin sales in the UK are expected to top £1bn for the first time this year as younger drinkers supplement their taste for vodka with a double shot from a new generation of artisanal distilleries, reports The Guardian.

survey by the consumer trends agency Mintel found that despite its continuing reputation as a drink for the over-40s suburban couple, younger consumers are now the most likely to drink gin.

More than two in five Brits aged 18 to 34 have drunk gin in the past 12 months, compared with 27 per cent of over-45s.

Such is the taste for what was once termed “mother’s ruin” that UK gin sales will top £1.3bn by 2020, Mintel said.

The UK’s “gin renaissance” has been under way for several years as tastes and drinking habits have changed. The decline of nightclub culture, where vodka is king, and the shift to eating out and early evening parties has inspired a craft industry of flavoured gins.

Chris Wisson, Mintel’s drinks analyst, said the sale of more upmarket mixers like those sold by Fever-Tree have added to the view of the drink as a more refined and cosmopolitan alternative to vodka.

The Sipsmith distillery in west London is typical of the latest breed of craft makers that offer a variety of blends and visitor tours, much as Scottish whiskey distilleries have for decades.

Wisson said: “One of gin’s sobriquets is ‘mother’s ruin’ and the drink still has certain associations with older drinkers, contributing to it being likely to be seen as an older person’s drink and the least likely as a young person’s drink.

“However, our research indicates that gin is in fact now most likely to be drunk by younger consumers, suggesting that it has a chance to forge a dynamic image and move into even more innovative areas.”

Vodka sales remain by far the largest and their dominance has continued after soaring by 8 per cent over the past five years to reach £3.46bn in 2015, accounting for 61 per cent of the total UK white spirit market’s value.

Earlier this week, the Office for National Statistics highlighted gin as a feature of the recent small rise in average consumer prices. It said the price per litre of gin has risen for each of the past six years, with the value of gin sold by UK manufacturers almost doubling since 2008.

The value put on sales by the ONS was £254.4m last year, but this was based on the price paid at the factory gate of UK manufacturers and doesn’t include imported gins or the price paid in pubs and clubs.

London dry gin, which is made from a fermented grain mash and flavoured with juniper berries, is a staple of the industry and has become a supermarket favourite.

Such is the success of supermarket sourcing that a recent Which? guide found that budget gins – some selling at less than a tenner a bottle – trounced their more expensive and established rivals in a consumer taste test.

Drinks experts from the consumer group rated 12 standard-range gins and gave Morrisons, Lidl and Waitrose higher marks than established brands Greenall’s and Beefeater, while the market leader, Gordon’s – which accounts for half of all gin sales in the UK – trailed behind in ninth position.