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UKTI takes 23 UK distilleries across the US on major gin-trade initiative

Published:  10 November, 2015

The Arbikie, Portobello Road and Cotswold distilleries were among 23 UK producers invited to showcase their gins in the US by the government's UK Trade & Investment department last month.

In the first major initiative of its kind, UKTI hosted a series of events, including a panel session with industry experts in New York, guided on- and off-trade tours of New York and Los Angeles, and tastings for importers, distributors, retailers and trade media in both cities.

The UKTI designed the programme to promote a positive awareness of both British gin and the "Britishness" of gin.

The aim of the initiative was both to educate the companies about the US spirits market and provide a platform for the UK's gin industry to demonstrate its expertise to key contacts in the US market.

The events were also used as a launchpad for a range of related digital content from three US bloggers, Matt Long, Rachelle Lucas and Kate McCulley.

The bloggers had been commissioned by UKTI to visit Britain and write about its gin distilleries and the place of gin in the UK's history, culture and cuisine.

Between them, Long, Lucas and McCulley have some 360,000 blog page views per month.

They generated additional content across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during the initiative under the hashtag #GreatBritishSpirit.

David Stirling, director of Arbikie, which produces Kirsty's Gin, told Harpers: "It was a great trip for Arbikie Highland Estate, and incredibly useful for us in developing our export strategy.

"America is the largest premium drinks market in the world and one of our key target markets. It was fantastic for us to meet with key importers and distributors to gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities of exporting to the USA.

"It was particularly useful to receive direct feedback regarding our product and how we need to market this in the US."

Kirsty's Gin from the Arbikie Distillery

Daniel Szor, owner of The Cotswolds Distillery, said: "We were delighted to be invited to this event which was particularly well-timed for us as our award-winning Cotswolds Dry Gin recently made its US debut in June of this year.

The UKTI event was extremely well-organized visually, and gave us the chance to each offer a tasting of our gin both neat and in our favourite cocktail. There was a great group of exciting new gin-makers on hand, and the reception was very enthusiastic.

In the US word of our gin has spread quickly and in the three months since its launch we have been stocked by over 40 establishments - both on- and off-trade.

"This is the distillery's first foray into a major US market and is expected to lead to listings in several other key US markets in the months and years to come."

The UKTI is already looking at ways to build on the success of the event, both in the US and elsewhere in the world.

"Gin is a huge focus for the UK government given the export potential so this is just the beginning," Niall Gordon, head of the consumer and industrial goods team at UKTI, told Harpers.

"Our colleagues in China are this week hosting a delegation of gin distilleries, for example.

"In terms of events of this scale, we wouldn't necessarily have the capacity or funding to do it in the US more than once a year, but we are already discussing how we might showcase British gin at significant US events such as the WSWA convention and Tales of the Cocktail."

Ten of the participating distilleries were new to market, reflecting the dynamic state the category in the UK.

The other distilleries invited by UKTI were: Burlington, Caorunn, Eden Mill, Glasgow Distillery, Hayman's, Indian Summer, Langley's, Liverpool Gin, London No 3, Martin Miller's, NB Gin, Quintessential Brands, Rock Rose Gin, Sipsmith, Shortcross, Strathearn, Strathleven, The Shetland Distillery, Warner Edwards and Whitley Neill.

Cotswold Dry Gin