The numbers come to us from England, but they are paralleled here in Portugal. In the first half of the year Gin sales grew by more than single digits in quantity (12%), and in value (16%) which proves that the market trend to find higher quality, more expensive products continues. Half year retail sales exceeded 500 million pounds, something like 556 million euros.
In Portugal, we have no concrete data, but what there is points to a similar reality. Gin sales are still in the ascendant although less rapid than what can be seen in England, or even here a few months before.
However, in either case, the market seems to have reached a mature state in which sales have stopped growing for all the players, growing only for some of them.
William Lowe, professor of Cambridge Distillery, notes that “it is harder and harder for any brand to have an impact other than in the local market, making people have to work harder to stand out from the crowd”.
This affirmation is mirrored in Portugal where we have seen the growth in many different new brands which place great importance in any differentiating detail of their product, whether that’s in the distillation, the use of a certain botanical or any other factor. However, and as Lowe advocates, these new brands have had difficulties in penetrating the market with its limited target.
What might at first seem like a slowing down, or even shrinking of the market, may in fact be a natural tendency for the small producers, very centred on their place of production, to seek out new aromas and authenticity, as defended by Nick King, one of the specialists at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
According to him, this trend cannot overtake the nature of this spirit, which has as its driving force “the predominant flavour of juniper”, something that we know doesn’t appear in some of the newer products hitting the market.
Nick King concludes his rationale saying that Gin may essentially be considered a type of vodka flavoured with juniper. Therefore, a distinction must be made between Gins that keep juniper as their main or at least very distinct flavour and those Gins where it is barely noticeable. Nick King defends the idea that all Gins that stray from the essential rules of Gin should be considered simply as flavoured vodkas, without that having any pejorative meaning.