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Bombay, Hendrick’s Lead A Resurgent Gin Category

December 1, 2017

While gin has been in decline over the long term, the category is benefiting from renewed interest in upscale expressions aimed at the mixology segment. As mixologists and millennials embrace gin as a base spirit in classic cocktails, the stage appears set for a new era of progress.

The U.S. gin category currently numbers about 9.7 million cases, according to Impact Databank. While significant volume growth has eluded many established brands lately, there are signs that the enthusiasm sweeping the category in markets like Spain and the U.K. could be replicated stateside. The top three gin brands in the U.S.—Seagram’s, Tanqueray and Bombay—account for nearly half of total consumption.

Pernod Ricard-owned Seagram’s ($12 a 750-ml.) remains the top brand by volume at 2 million cases, but has shed nearly 200,000 cases over the past two years. Meanwhile, Diageo’s Tanqueray ($25) increased 2% to 1.5 million cases last year, and Bacardi’s Bombay franchise surged by 18%. Bombay’s super-premium offshoot, Sapphire ($27 a 750-ml.), has shown torrid growth recently and is likely to cross the 1-million-case mark for 2017. “We’re seeing more millennials enter the category, and interest in gin cocktails is on the rise,” says Tom Swift, vice president brand managing director for Bombay Sapphire at Bacardi Ltd. “We’re also seeing the cocktail renaissance extend into the off-premise.”

The import segment is also being driven by William Grant & Sons’ Hendrick’s ($36), which is on pace to cross 350,000 cases in the U.S. this year, and is now over 1 million cases globally. “Gin is factoring strongly in the cocktail movement,” says Darius Hines, senior brand manager for Hendrick’s at William Grant & Sons USA. “Classic gin cocktails like the Negroni, Tom Collins and Gin Fizz have emerged as fixtures in cocktail programs across the U.S.”

Hendrick’s has helped pave the way for other boutique gins, including Proximo’s Boodles (+21% to 53,000 cases in the U.S. last year), Cognac Ferrand’s Citadelle (+12% to 30,000 cases) and Pernod Ricard’s Plymouth (+7% to 32,000 cases). Two other rising imports, Greenall’s ($20) and Martin Miller’s ($28-$35), are also around the 30,000-case level. Among the U.S. craft gins gaining traction, Kentucky-based Copper & Kings recently debuted the 94-proof 1495 Guelders Gin ($45). That launch followed the release of Copper & Kings American Dry Gin ($35) and American Old Tom Gin ($40) earlier this year.

“Super-premium craft gins continue to explode on the market and are gaining visibility in the on- and off-premise,” says Jennifer Marks, Plymouth business leader at Pernod Ricard USA. Pernod isn’t the only major supplier bullish about the super-premium end. Beam Suntory acquired a controlling stake in U.K. craft gin label Sipsmith ($33-$48) late last year, while Gruppo Campari purchased Bulldog Gin ($27) for roughly $58 million in February. Meanwhile, in April, Brooklyn’s Greenhook Ginsmiths ($34-$50) joined the portfolio of TD Artisan Spirits, the joint venture between Terlato Artisan Spirits and Distell USA, and New York-based Davos Brands purchased Aviation Gin ($30) from Oregon craft distiller House Spirits late last year.

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