With the demise of ginfestival.com in July, there has been some speculation about this being the beginning of the end of the so-called gin bubble. To all gin lovers: Relax! Here is why I think we are not going to run out of gin in the foreseeable future.
With the collapse of Gin Festival Limited, a UK based company selling tickets to gin festivals in the UK, some 20.000 people not only lost their tickets but also their source of information about gin festivals in the UK. As a direct consequence, 20 planned festivals have been canceled and 27 members of staff will be made redundant.
As the news spread on social media, a lot of people started to predict that this was the gin bubble bursting. Here is why I think they are wrong. First, let’s look at the background for the collapse of Gin Festival Limited.
According to several news articles, the company which was established in 2013, encountered financial difficulties after it invested heavily in expanding its online presence. The business attempted to bring online ticket sales for its events in-house and also set up an e-commerce operation selling craft gins direct to customers, both of which increased the financial burden on the company.
In other words, it was bad investments, not lack of revenue that led to this demise.
The gin bubble is not a “bubble”
Gin is a spirit with a long tradition. Its origin, genever, was introduced to the brits during the thirty years’ war (1618-1648) The first of what has been known as gin was produced early in the 17th century. The first “gin bubble” lasted for about 100 years.
In modern times, gin lost to vodka in the 1970s. Back then, gin was a piny spirit, mostly considered to be enjoyed by old, stuffy men.
What started to turn the tide was no other than the iconic blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire, introduced in 1987.
This was the start of a new wave, but another ten years would pass before a significant number of competitors would emerge.
Starting around the time Bombay Sapphire launched, beer had gone from being a mass-produced commodity to, with the introduction of microbreweries and craft beer, being a product made with passion and local ingredients.
Bars with a microbrewery in the back started to pop up and attract people that were not regular beer consumers.
These people started to drink beer, not only because of the taste but because they bought into the complete package; Local people, producing beer made of local ingredients, creating jobs and a local hang-out in the neighborhood.
In the mid-2000s, something happened on the gin scene. In the same way as with beer, local microdistilleries started to emerge. Driven by passionate people, too young to bring with them all the constraints of a classic London dry gin, started to experiment. The results are fantastic.
Whenever I’m traveling, I try to visit some of these places. In north Florida, in the city of St. Agustine, there is a distillery that makes gin from sugar canes. All of the ingredients are sourced locally.
In Washington DC, I met the man behind the Green Hat Gin. A guy that loves to play around with ingredients, resulting in a gin using the cherry blossoms the area are so famous for.
Gin is growing
According to the Global Gin Insights Report, the global gin market will grow from 32.4 million cases in 2016 to nearly 40 million cases in 2021. Flavored gin could be one trend to watch: from small beginnings in Spain, it is gaining a bigger slice of the market, with leading brands such as Gordon’s now entering the segment.
British gin is thriving. In 2017, domestic gin sales surpass 50 million bottles. With a total revenue of £1.2 billion. This a doubling from 2011. More than 500 gins are produced in Great Brittain. According to the chart above, most of the gins are made for export. British gins are sold in 139 countries around the world.
This summer, I visited the City of London Distillery. Just before my visit, the owner Jonathan Clark had just sold 80% of the company. Now, he’s in the process of staring Wessex Distillery. When big companies are making long-term investments like this, it is further evidence that the gin bubble is not a bubble, but a long-term trend.
This year, Oslo Gin Festival opened its doors for the third time. This year, for the first time as a two-day event. At London Cocktail Week last year, I met a guy so passionate about gin that he inspired me to write a blog post about passion.
Personally, I’m looking forward to attending Copenhagen Gin Festival in February. How did I find this event? On a Danish gin forum on Facebook, with more than 1,300 members.
Relax, find your local gin festival, and be convinced. The gin bubble isn’t bursting anytime soon.