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Backed By Beam Suntory, Sipsmith Gin Plans U.S. Expansion

July 28, 2017

Beam Suntory acquired a controlling stake in U.K. craft gin label Sipsmith late last year, aiming to grow the brand in gin’s fast-growing super-premium segment. Speaking to SND recently, Suntory Holdings CEO Takeshi Niinami said the Sipsmith deal is an example of the type of opportunistic, value-creating craft spirits plays the company will continue to pursue looking ahead.

Established in London in 2009, Sipsmith initially launched in the U.S. in 2013 through Wilson Daniels, ultimately reaching around 30 markets. With the transition to Beam Suntory, the brand is revamping its U.S. strategy, looking to focus efforts in six key metro areas: New York, Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

Discussing the brand’s fresh U.S. approach, Sipsmith co-founder Sam Galsworthy told SND, “What we’ve done is refocused so that we can get consistent supply and consistent messages to the right people in the right places. We’re going narrow and deep. We’re targeting cities that will truly resonate with the Sipsmith message toward classic-style cocktails and authenticity.”

The Sipsmith range comprises a classic London dry gin ($32.99 a 750-ml.), as well as a Sloe Gin ($39.99) and its 57.5%-abv V.J.O.P. label ($47.99), which stands for “Very Junipery Over Proof.” Currently, the U.S. accounts for around 10% to 15% of the brand’s total sales, though Galsworthy expects that share to grow. To prepare for expansion, Sipsmith is working to ramp up production, with plans to install a pair of new pot stills at its distillery in West London’s Chiswick district in the coming months.

Beam Suntory’s investment in Sipsmith comes amid a wave of activity within the super-premium gin sector, which has long been led by Bacardi’s Bombay Sapphire ($27), and has been invigorated in recent years by brands like William Grant’s Hendrick’s ($35). In February, Gruppo Campari purchased Bulldog Gin ($26) for roughly $58 million, while in April, TD Artisan Spirits—a joint marketing venture between Terlato Artisan Spirits and Distell USA—added Brooklyn’s Greenhook Ginsmiths ($34-$50) to its stable. Other high-end gins making inroads in the U.S. include Proximo’s Boodles and Quintessential Brands’ Greenall’s (around $20), both from the U.K., as well as Cognac Ferrand’s Citadelle brand ($25-$35) from France. —Christina Jelski

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