Beefeater is bidding to capitalise on the soaring popularity of flavoured gin by launching a new Blood Orange variant.

Gin remains the star performer in the UK drinks trade, with sales up 48% to £903 million in the past year (Nielsen).

Within this popular category, flavoured gin is leading the charge after growing sales by 457% in the past year. It is now a £253 million sub-category in its own right, accounting for more than a quarter of gin sales.

Some purists in the industry lament the advent of flavoured gin, claiming it moves the category away from its heartland and threatens its future health. But the new Beefeater Blood Orange actually takes inspiration from the orange gin distilled by its founder, James Burroughs, all the way back in 1876, when Queen Victoria was made Empress of India and George Eliot was writing Daniel Deronda, so it certainly ticks the heritage and provenance boxes that modern consumers appear to demand.

There is also no denying the success of flavoured gin, as brand owner Pernod Ricard highlighted Beefeater pink gin as the standout performer when it released its H1 results last week. It is growing so strongly that Pernod Ricard has taken the decision to scale back leading wine brands such as Jacob’s Creek and focus on gin, which offers everyone a considerably higher margin.

Pernod Ricard also owns Plymouth gin, which has released a Fruit Cup variant designed to take on Diageo’s Pimm’s brand, and it is keen to continue tapping into this growing market.

“Orange gin has swiftly become the second fastest growing gin flavour, after pink, yet the majority of orange gins currently on the market are only available at a super-premium price,” said Chris Ellis, commercial director at Pernod Ricard UK. Beefeater Blood Orange is designed to make the category more accessible to consumers. Ellis said the team was blown away by Beefeater Pink’s success, and it has high hopes for the newcomer.

Beefeater Blood Orange will be released exclusively in the UK and Ireland from next month with an rrp of £18.99. Pernod Ricard recommends serving it with tonic, or perhaps ginger ale, which could represent a cross-merchandising opportunity for retailers.