Back in the day, gin was the thing that my gran drank, mixed with a bit of that tonic water you’ll find at just about any bottle store or petrol station.
No lemon, no fuss, nothing special.
Then a few years back, gin underwent an extreme makeover. Gone were the mediocre G&Ts of old, because now it came carefully crafted, beautifully presented, decked out in floral flavours botanicals and mixed with the finest of tonics.
South Africa’s growth replicates that seen around the world, and in 2018, global gin consumption grew quicker than any other alcoholic beverage category.
This had a lot to do with social media and the fact that gin, unlike some other drinks, fits in with a lot of health trends doing the rounds.
It also has some surprising health benefits, thanks to juniper berries – the core ingredient in a classic gin.
And, the rise and rise of gin does not appear to be slowing down. In fact, according to Moneyweb, gin sales are experiencing a 50% sales growth, year on year.
Ginologist head of marketing Nick Taliakis says Nielsen data shows that major retailers such as Pick n Pay, Checkers, OK and Makro are seeing significant growth in gin consumption across all price points.
“This is particularly interesting because not only have we seen the top end gins grow, but the lower-priced traditional gin brands have also shown a major jump in volume sales,” he says, adding that this has been driven partially by the resurgence in gin drinking, primarily by the craft and small-batch offerings that currently proliferate the retail space.
The craft gin market has elevated gin to new heights with infusions and flavourings that take a commonly bitter spirit, and turn it into something that can be sipped, and enjoyed with nothing more than a few blocks of ice.
The Cape Town Gin Pink Lady, infused with hibiscus flowers and rose petals, and the Rooibos Red, infused with organic, handpicked rooibos, are two popular local gins, that taste just as good with tonic, as they do on their own.
This twist has added a new versatility to gin, that has only increased its popularity. According to the SA Wine Industry Information and Systems, gin sales were up 151% – from over six million litres to over 15 million – in the 2014 to 2018 period.
The amount of gin that we consume is all the proof that you need. Here’s gin consumption, in litres, over five years:
That’s one hell of a spike in 2018, and I reckon last year was just as successful.
At the end of the day, we can crunch the numbers, map the trends, hand out surveys and do market research for months to find out why gin is so popular right now.
Or, we could just kick back with a G&T and accept one simple fact – it’s delicious.
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