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Waitrose reports boom in gin sales, as craft and artisan styles increase

Published:  01 June, 2015

Waitrose has seen a surge of gin sales, up 7% on the same time last year, boosted by the growing interest in new styles.

Waitrose has seen a surge of gin sales, up 7% on the same time last year, boosted by the growing interest in new styles.

The retailer has added 27 new gins over the last year, brining it to a total of 57, and says the growth is coming from boutique gins and artisan styles. It said its Heston from Waitrose Earl Grey Gin was increasingly popular and noted the increase of more artisan styles from more established brands, including Bombay Sapphire's slow distilled 'Star of Bombay', which has dialed up some of the botanicals to offer a complex gin that still fits within the brand's taste profile.

Waitrose spirits buyer John Vine said: "Our customers know their gin and at Waitrose we have a style for everyone. Shoppers continue to enjoy traditional London dry styles with the juniper hit but we have also seen a rise in popularity of Gin Mare, which boasts more rosemary and the flavours of a summer evening. We've even recently started listing a Pink Pepper gin exclusively on which we're tipping to be the trend-setting gin for this summer."

Speaking to at a recent Gin Guild dinner, Michael Vachon of Maverick Drinks, who specialises in brand development, said that people were actively choosing products with authenticity, and provenance and argued that gins would become more locally sourced.

"It is moving towards craft spirits - the next big thing is local gins and waiting for the large retailers to wake up to this," he said. "There will always be the mainstream gins, but there have been more than 300 gins launched in the last few years. While there may be saturation at the middle of the spectrum - for example London dry gins - we want to challenge people and get them excited to try different flavours and increase their sensory repertoire, not only in terms of botanicals, but also in styles."

He said as people became more comfortable with gin, they were becoming more adventurous, particularly in the on-trade.

"We're seeing a return of navy strength gins at 57% proof, as well as Old Toms and older recipes and ageing in barrels."

There is also a market for premixed products he said, but the real area for growth was in international bar and pub chains that don't have a cocktail project but could do. "We want to make more cocktails and the experience emulating the bar is part of that," he said.