Waitrose doubles local gin range as craft sales soar

Waitrose has more than doubled its range of small-batch gins since the beginning of the year as demand for locally sourced craft spirits continues to soar.

Thirteen new artisan gins from small distilleries across the UK are being added to selected Waitrose shelves by the end of March.

It means that more than half of Waitrose shops will now carry a locally sourced gin, defined by the retailer as being distilled within a 30-mile radius of the store.

David Goddard, local and regional assistant buyer at Waitrose, said: “The rise of craft gin certainly shows no sign of slowing. It’s the most popular spirit we sell.

“People across the country are experimenting with making their own gin cocktails which are becoming more exotic than ever. That’s why artisan gins, which are usually infused with unique flavours and aromas, really appeal to our customers.  

“Over the past year we’ve been working closely with small, local distilleries across the country to bring more artisan gin to our shelves. It’s always great to work with smaller suppliers who might be just starting out or who have very local roots to some of our shops.”

Off-trade gin sales soared by 32% in value in 2017 to reach £605 million, making it the star performer in the UK drinks industry ahead of Prosecco (Nielsen).

Helen Stares, client business partner at Nielsen, told DRN: “If I were to sum up alcohol sales over Christmas 2017 in one word, it would be gin.

“At Nielsen, we define Christmas sales as 12 weeks to the December 30, and in that period, gin sold £199.4 million, which means that sales increased by £55.4 million compared with Christmas 2016. 

“There’s no sign that the gin bubble is about to burst either: growth over Christmas 2016 was £22.4m, so gin has increased its value growth nearly two-and-a-half times. 

“Gin added on more value to total alcohol sales than any other category, with its contribution dwarfing that of the next biggest grower, wine, which increased sales by £23.8m. 

“Amongst our team of alcohol analysts, no-one can remember such an impressive performance for a single type of spirits during the Christmas period, and if current growth rates continue, gin looks likely to overtake blended whisky over Christmas 2018.

“The gin trend clearly took off over 2017, and accelerated even further over Christmas.  As we’ve seen throughout the year, the main reason for its growth was that it was attracting new shoppers who hadn’t previously bought gin. 

“For those who were already buying gin, they were persuaded to spend more: the average price per litre of a bottle of gin increased by £1.55 compared with Christmas 2016. 

“Some shoppers were prepared to trade up and buy more expensive brands, but sales have increased across all price points for gin. This trend is set to continue.”

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