Earlier this month, Drinks Retailing took a trip to Spanish gin brand Puerto de Indias’ home just outside Seville. The gin, which is known for its strawberry flavour, has big plans for the UK market. Here, Lucy Britner talks to global consumer director Laura Noguera and global innovation and international markets director Isabela Lluch about the potential for a Spanish gin brand in the UK.
There’s no denying that the Puerto de Indias distillery conjures holiday vibes. From the bright flamenco-esque polka dot branding and the olive trees in the garden, to the bar, this is definitely a slice of Spain. And it’s exactly this vibe that the company hopes will propel the brand on British soil.
“We know that more than 50% of the UK population has visited Spain sometime during the past five years and we also know that tourists try local products and look for them when they get back home,” says global consumer director Laura Noguera. In fact, many take the product home with them and she says Puerto de Indias is the “number one spirit by volume in duty free in Spain”.
When it comes to Spanish drinking culture, the approach is a little different and Noguera hopes this can be exported to the UK, along with the gin. Besides the strawberries, she says the brand can bring an easy-drinking vibe to the gin category in the UK.
“Here, we talk a lot about gin and tonic and we also drink it with lemon and lime soda – this is good for the consumer because it’s an easy way to make drinks at home,” says Noguera, though she also points out that it’s versatile for cocktails.
In fact, the gin contains sugar, which – depending on the cocktail – means home bartenders can forgo the need to use sugar syrup.
“Dry gin is another experience,” explains global innovation and international markets director Isabela Lluch. “I don’t want to say one is good and one is bad, it’s a different experience. Puerto de Indias is very easy drinking.”
While we’re walking around the distillery, we see strawberries macerating in alcohol and Noguera says natural ingredients will resonate with British drinkers who like to know what’s in the bottle.
“We know how important the gin category is in the UK and what we bring is a gin distilled with natural flavours,” she adds. “We know consumers are very interested in natural flavours and how products are made. We think our strawberry and our blackberry gins have big potential in the UK.”
Besides interest in natural ingredients, British consumers are also said to be increasingly interested in health and wellness. So, how does the gin’s sugar aspect weigh up with this mentality?
“Right now, we do use sugar and it’s something we think about in our innovation,” says Lluch. “We’re doing a lot of studies to look at how we can use our fruit. I come to the distillery every week to do tests to see how we can mix different types of botanicals to simulate the same flavour but reduce the sweetness.”
She gives the example of coriander, which she says can enhance the sweetness of the strawberry if it is distilled at a certain point in the process, without giving the taste of coriander.
“We’re doing a lot of tests to cut down sugar and maintain the sweetness that makes it so easy to drink. We know it’s a trend.”
There’s also the trend around no and low that Lluch says is on the agenda.
“We’re analysing it and hopefully we’ll have news in the future, if the company goes with the trend. We know people are drinking less, especially the younger generation.”
Besides innovation around sugar and alcohol-free, Lluch and the team have launched new flavours in Spain. Flavours that will potentially make it to the UK, depending on their performance in their home market. When we were touring the distillery, we sampled a newly-released Lemonberry variant, that uses tiny caviar lemons alongside the strawberries, as well as a Sweet Melon flavour.
Thirsty tourists will soon be able to visit the distillery, which is set to open as a visitor experience later in the year – and the giftshop includes a clear plastic pack of airport-ready minis to take home.