Though it hasn’t seen the skyrocketing growth of tequila or ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, gin has experienced solid sales growth over the past two years. Driven by its presence in classic cocktails, stylistic diversification, and ultra-premium brands and SKUs, gin has the potential to continue on its steady trajectory and drive sales for retailers in coming years.

Inside Gin’s Increasing Popularity

In addition to the liquor category experiencing overall share gains on Drizly, gin share has increased as well, holding 5.2 percent of share in 2020 versus 4.3 percent of share in 2019 (a 21 percent increase year-over-year). Over the past 12 months, gin has held a solid around five percent of share on Drizly.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in consumer interest for elevated classics,” says Jennifer Schwartz, a Monkey 47 brand team member for Pernod Ricard, noting that gin is often the main ingredient in classic cocktails. “Bartenders and mixologists are starting to look at gin in a new way and bringing those traditional drinks into the 21st-century drinking scene, thus bringing the gin category to a new generation of consumers in the process.” Monkey 47, an ultra-premium, German-made gin made with botanicals from the Black Forest, has become a particular favorite among bartenders in recent years.

This cocktail influence spilled over into at-home drinking over the past year as well: gin share spiked from March to June 2020, growing 15 percent compared to the first two months of the year. “Given that many bars and restaurants closed for a period of time, it allowed consumers to start experimenting with spirits and creating their favorite cocktails at home,” says Schwartz.

“Gin is typically a seasonal category, which sees share gains in the spring and summer months,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. In 2020, gin share of the liquor category on Drizly spiked in April at six percent and had a strong May through August, holding between 5.4 and 5.6 percent of share. 2020 gin share was lowest in January, holding just 4 percent of share.

Stylistically, London dry gin, defined as a gin infused with botanicals (especially juniper) through distillation, comprises the majority of gin sales on Drizly; well-known brands like Tanqueray, Beefeater, and Bombay Sapphire specialize in London dry styles. Modern gin (which isn’t a legally defined gin subcategory but tends to refer to a gin with less emphasis on traditional botanicals like juniper) is the second-best selling gin style, with standard gin ranking at No. 3.

Drizly’s Top-Selling Gin Subcategories, June 2020 to May 2021

  1. London dry gin (53 percent)
  2. Modern gin (30 percent)
  3. Gin (14 percent)
  4. Old Tom gin (1 percent)
  5. Genever/Dutch gin (1 percent)
  6. Aged gin (1 percent)

Which Gins Are Selling?

Within gin’s subcategories, there has been a slight shift away from London dry gin year-over-year: the subcategory dropped from 56 percent of share from April 2019 to March 2020 to 53 percent of share from April 2020 to March 2021. Though this staple category remains important, consumers are also diversifying their gin tastes.

“Though London dry gin remains the top-selling gin subcategory, in the past year we have seen a share shift towards standard and modern gin,” says Paquette. Modern gin gained one percentage point in share year-over-year while standard gin gained two percentage points over the same time period.

“Now more than ever, gin consumers are differentiating and appreciating distinct flavor profiles found in varying styles & offerings across the category,” says Christina Choi, the SVP of rum, tequila, and gin at Diageo.

Among the top-selling gin brands on Drizly, Hendrick’s, Tanqueray, and Bombay Sapphire have long held the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 spots, respectively. However, there have been some shake-ups in the other top 10 rankings over the past year. 

Monkey 47 and The Botanist rose in the ranks (with The Botanist, a gin from Islay, seeing especially high gains from No. 10 to No. 5), while Roku (a Japanese craft gin) and Empress (an attractive, indigo-hued gin) entered the top 10 for the first time. Traditional brands like Seagram’s and Gordon’s fell out of Drizly’s top 10 brands list, echoing the trend away from some traditional London dry offerings. Fastest-growing brands year-over-year include Gray Whale Gin, Empress, Monkey 47, The Botanist, and Drumshanbo, suggesting that consumers are branching out and trading up.

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Drizly’s Top-Selling Gin Brands, June 2020 to May 2021

  1. Hendrick’s
  2. Tanqueray
  3. Bombay Sapphire
  4. Beefeater 
  5. The Botanist
  6. New Amsterdam
  7. Monkey 47
  8. Roku
  9. Empress
  10. Aviation

The Gin Consumer

“The age demographics of gin purchasers align very closely with the overall liquor consumer on Drizly, suggesting that the category has broad appeal,” says Paquette. Choi notes that Tanqueray has noticed an increase in new gin drinkers who are younger (between the ages of 30 and 40) and more diverse.

However, the average price per unit for gin on Drizly is $32—12 percent higher than the average price point unit for liquor—suggesting that consumers are more willing to spend on gin than they are on an average spirits bottle. 38 percent of gin sales per unit fell between $30 and $40 over the past 12 months.

High-End SKUs and Diverse Styles Drive Future Growth

As the gin category continues to embrace style and format diversity, consumers are likely to continue exploring the many facets of gin. “We anticipate gin to continue to gain share in the liquor category as the diversity of product offerings and consumer interest in the category continues to grow,” says Paquette.

The number of gin brands branching out into the RTD cocktail or flavored spirits space offers additional avenues for the spirit to connect with new consumers, particularly during outdoor gatherings. Speaking of Tanqueray’s canned cocktails as well as Sevilla Orange and Rangpur Lime flavored gins, Choi says, “The accessible taste and format make these perfect for expanding into new occasions.”

Small-batch and high-end gins will also likely drive sales going forward; Choi notes that Tanqueray No. TEN, a small batch gin crafted using fresh citrus, has seen double-digit growth, and Schwartz says that Monkey 47 fans love the annual limited-edition Distiller’s Cut. Though warmer weather prompts gin sales due to the popularity of gin and tonics, high-end gins are also popular gift options during the holidays.

“Ultra-premium spirits have trended upwards over the last year and a new emphasis on investing in quality spirits has risen,” says Schwartz, who notes that ultra-premium gin is growing at a rate of two times the overall gin category. “Retailers can drive value by stocking high-end gins.”