StateWays - March/April 2016

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays ■ ■ March/April 2016 36 "TEN YEARS AGO, IF YOU MENTIONED 'BOTANICALS,' people would have thought you were talking about gardening," quips Bob Fowkes, co-founder of Brockmans Gin. "That's changed; consumers know a lot more about gin - how botani- cals differentiate styles, especially among the early adopters in big cities." Indeed, interest in the gin category has grown immensely over the last decade, riding the coattails of the cocktail revolution. Many of the classics are gin-based, and intrepid mixologists have taken to the highly aromatic and fl avorful white spirit, de- signing a new wave of gin cocktails. Producers big and small have responded by releasing a plethora of new expres- sions and styles with a potpourri of botanicals. However, much of this action has been tilted towards bar and restaurant business without much of a corresponding lift in the off-premise trade—yet, any- way. Brands are helping to increase the fl ow from on- to off-premise with consumer and trade education, simple recipes, merchandising tools and even suggestions for retailers to bump up gin sales in the off-premise channel. COCKTAIL STAR "Perhaps more than any spirit, gin has enjoyed newfound attention as a result of the classic cocktail resurgence," says Rachel Ford, Diageo's national gin ambassador. The company's portfolio includes Tanqueray, a classic London dry style, and Tanqueray No. TEN, which is a citrus-forward gin made with macerated fruit and features juni- per, coriander and a hint of chamomile fl owers. Last summer, the company launched Tanqueray Bloomsbury, a limited-edition release inspired by an original recipe dating back to 1880. A juniper-forward London Dry Gin using Tuscan juniper, Tanqueray Bloomsbury also incorporates coriander, angelica, winter savory and cassia bark. "Gin is well-suited to the craft cocktail movement. There is such a large palate of fl avors for mixologists to play with, from all the different botanical infusions," says Au- gust Sebastiani, president of 3 Badge Mixology, whose portfolio includes Uncle Val's Gin. The original gin features an infu- sion of juniper, cucumber, lemon, sage and lavender. Recently, the company introduced two more expressions: Re- storative, a new American style with more savory notes than sweetness; and Peppered, which adds red bell pepper, black pepper and pimento to the juniper. TRADING UP Compared to behemoths whiskey and vodka, gin is a small category at just 9.9 million 9-liter cases in 2015, according to the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS). Volume for the gin category was slightly down last year (1.8%); but this was due to a drop in the value segment, while the superpremium end soared 37.8%. Sup- plier revenues showed a similar pattern, with the category dropping 1.0% while superpremium sales were up 38.5%. "There is a tectonic shift in the gin category away from the lower-priced, traditional brands toward premium brands - some craft brands in particular," comments Thomas Moony, CEO of House Spirits Distillery and president of the Craft Spirits Association. Moony calls his Aviation Gin "an American Cocktail Style;" the dry gin has notes of laven- der, cardamom and sarsaparilla (House also recently produced a limited-release barrel-aged Old Tom Gin). "If you look not at volume but at new dollars com- ing into the category," Moony explains, "there are a handful of brands driving growth," citing Aviation, St. George, Hendricks, Beefeater, Tanqueray and Bombay among others. "What do those brands have in common? All have had a lot of on-premise success that is starting to spill over into the off-premise." ON AGAIN, OFF AGAIN Many gin brands - large and small, es- tablished and new - are focusing much of their efforts into getting trial on- premise. Those endeavors, the think- ing goes, will eventually translate into off-premise purchases. "On-premise is where brands get built. Bartenders infl uence consum- TONIC FOR THE TRADE BY THOMAS HENRY STRENK

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