2019: A Year in Scottish Gin

We review what went on in Scottish Gin in 2019.

Published: 16th January 2020

2019 was another amazing year in the story of Scottish Gin. A year which showed continued investment in the category, with new distilleries, new gin experiences and of course new Scottish Gin expressions. We feel 2019 was the year Scottish Gin came to the fore as a recognisable and respected term in the drinks and spirit world. Not because the gins feature a specific recognisable botanical. Not because the gins follow a set distillation process. But recognisable and understood to be a product of Scotland, made in Scotland with passion and care.

Across the industry, for consumers, and as a term in general, we feel it’s now expected that gin makers use of the term Scottish Gin, whether that be on a label, in marketing or even using the hashtag Scottish Gin on social media, needs to be genuine and that means the gin is made in Scotland. With a number of gin brands relocating their production to their own distilleries here in Scotland, it’s great to see several gin brands follow through on their ambitions of establishing their own distilleries in Scotland and earning the right to contribute to and benefit from the term Scottish Gin and all the positives it can bring to a business.

Thanks to all our members who have supported us in 2019 and trusted us to help share their amazing stories and showcase their businesses, brands and brilliant Scottish Gins. And thanks to everyone in the gin community who has helped us, commented, shared, liked and given us their friendship over the last 12 months.

The year in review: Scottish Gin 2019 in numbers

Looking at our data for 2019, there were an estimated 132 new commercially available Scottish Gin expressions released in 2019. This was an increase of an estimated 18 more new Scottish Gins compared to 2018. Of the total gins released in 2019, 29 were contract distilled gins. The most popular month for releasing a new gin appeared to be November with 22 new Scottish Gin expressions, followed by June with 16 new releases.

New gin expressions were diverse and varied from the classic London Dry to Old Tom, a gin style that has been making a modern comeback over the last 18 months, as some gin drinkers look for something that’s a little sweeter on the palate. Flavoured gins were also an area of big growth with a number of new expressions featuring big, bold and unique flavours.

Of the 132 new Scottish Gins released in 2019, 3 were Cask Aged, 82 were Contemporary (covering distilled and flavoured), 36 were London Dry, 6 were Navy Strength and 5 were Old Tom (1 was a Navy Strength Old Tom). So 2019 was most definitely the year of distilled, flavoured and contemporary gins. 

Although there was an increase in new Scottish Gins, 2019 saw less new Scottish Gin brands coming to market. In 2019, we estimate there were 25 new Scottish Gin brands launched compared to an estimated 42 new Scottish Gin brands launched in 2018. It’s been great to see the growth of established Scottish Gin brands, many of whom are bringing a wider range of gin styles to market to meet with increased consumer demands.

2019 also saw the opening of 15 new distilleries in Scotland, compared to 2018 when there were 26 new distilleries. At the end of 2019, we estimate there were 92 distilleries producing and championing Scottish Gin. Another area of continued growth was Scottish Gin experiences, demonstrating that Scottish Gin brands with a distillery are looking at ways of creating rich experiences for visitors and customers. Gin schools, tours, tastings and more were launched, showing continued investment and confidence in the Scottish Gin category.

This number excludes Diageo distilleries, neither Gordon’s or Tanqueray are marketed as being Scottish Gins, and although we consider Gordon’s to be amongst the gate keepers of gin, we don’t see them as part of the Scottish Gin category.

Gin sales in general, going by the data available, continued to grow with UK domestic gin sales reaching a staggering £2.3 billion (76 million bottles) in value from March 2018 to March 2019, breaking the £2 billion barrier for the first time. With the addition of £700 million worth of gin exports from the UK, £350 million to the EU and the remainder to other countries, the total value stood at £3 billion. Between March 2019 to March 2020, this number is expected to increase once again, with some predicting sales of over 100 million bottles, thanks in part to demand for flavoured gins, a category which has continued to grow since 2017.

Having looked at our data, we’re delighted to see continued confidence in the Scottish Gin industry. New distillery openings, new Scottish Gin expressions and experiences. Scotland’s gin makers continue building brilliant brands and producing great Scottish Gins. The trends across drinks, food, lifestyle and experiences continues with people seeking brand experiences, drinking less but spending more on quality food and drink, trends we believe will continue into 2020.

The year in review: Scottish Gin News 2019

When it comes to Scottish Gin news, we almost always focus on our members news and achievements and help them share their good news. The reputation of Scottish Gin continued to grow in 2019 with stories of new Scottish Gins, new gin experiences, business awards, Scottish Gin Awards and more. Throughout 2019 we’ve tried to capture the news we felt was of interest to the consumer and those working in the industry in our handy monthly round-ups, links below.

Read our December news round-up here.

Read our November news round-up here.

Read our October news round-up here.

Read our September news round-up here.

Read our August news round-up here.

Read our July news round-up here.

Read our June news round-up here.

Read our May news round-up here.

Read our April news round-up here.

Read our March news round-up here.

Read our February news round-up here.

Read our January news round-up here.

The year in review: The Gin Cooperative

As we entered our second year in business at the start of 2019, we updated our Scottish Gin directory with even more information for the consumer including production location, gin style, business location and more. We’ve continued to invest time and resources in our website to ensure it remains the premium resource for all things Scottish Gin. How Scottish Gin is showcased and presented on our website is important to us. From our original photography, editorial and more, we believe we’re capturing and sharing the story of Scottish Gin with the help of our members, which helps generate interest and encourages the consumer to discover more about the wonderful world of Scottish Gin.

2019 was a year of visits, surprises, laughs and celebration of the industry for us. We travelled over 12,000 miles in 2019 by car, boat and plane visiting Scotland’s gin makers and brand owners. We were welcomed into distilleries and homes across Scotland, meeting our members, taking photos, notes and videos. We visited 29 distilleries producing Scottish Gin, including 6 island based producers.

We published a staggering 103 original features in 2019. Our editorial features get to the heart of Scottish Gin in a way that’s engaging, informative and helps our members tell their stories. For The Gin Cooperative, our editorial is focused on content that helps the public learn more about the real people working in Scotland’s thriving gin and spirits industry.

2019 saw our co-founder Natalie Reid take to the stage to present the award for High Strength Gin of the Year at the Scottish Gin Awards. We were delighted that 7 of our members were finalists in the category with Pickering’s Gin going on to win the top award. We invited a number of our friends from the gin community to join and celebrate an evening of great food, amazing Scottish Gin, some dodgy dancing but plenty of laughs. It was a great opportunity to meet new people and catch up with some familiar faces too.

Year on year we’re building a massive, content rich archive of Scottish Gin through our features and photography that we believe long-term will be of massive benefit to the industry and will show the true evolution of Scottish Gin. We’re proud to see Scotland’s gin makers using our content as part of their marketing strategies, on their websites and social media channels, in print and as part of editorial features. We can see our collaborative approach and membership package is continuing to deliver benefits.

Our membership remained around the 80 mark throughout 2019 with a number of new members and renewals. Being a member shows a commitment to working with us and helping us educate and inspire the consumer and trade to discover Scottish Gin. As our members’ needs have evolved along with the industry, so has our membership and activities, which now includes official participation in International Scottish Gin Day.

2019 was also the year we were invited to join the Master of Malt affiliate scheme. We always wanted to keep our website advertising free but with high volumes of traffic per month there was an opportunity to explore a link to sales for our members through our website. It quickly became apparent from implementing the links in April, that lots of visitors to our website go on to make purchases. In June, we were awarded the biggest increase in sales for May. In December, we were ranked fourth overall by Master of Malt for their affiliate scheme. Considering we don’t publish affiliate links on our social media channels or use a sales approach with our content, the picture that’s quickly emerged from April 2019 onwards is that our website visitors are using our website as a source for buying gin and spirits.

2020 will continue to be a year of growth, eduction and collaboration for The Gin Cooperative. We will continue to learn, listen and showcase our members’ stories, products and more. We will also be unveiling a number of new editorial features along with visiting more of our members. We’ve got some big plans for this year, all centred around supporting our members and growing the reputation of Scottish Gin as the real spirit of Scotland.

The year in review: International Scottish Gin Day

Over a year in the planning, 2019 saw the inaugural International Scottish Gin Day take place on Saturday the 3rd of August with events taking place all around the globe. We specifically aimed to collaborate with a number of the world’s best bars, facilitating introductions with many of our members.

The day saw special Scottish Gin menus and cocktails at ATLAS Bar Singapore, Whitechapel San Francisco, The Clumsies Greece, Bobby Gin Barcelona and more. Scotland’s gin makers took part in Scottish Gin festivals and events across the country, with some putting on special events at their distilleries. We also have to give a special mention to Mackintosh Gin who took over Bar Prince at The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, creating a bespoke cocktail menu.

We were blown away with the love and support we had on the day and it felt like many social media channels on the day were filled with ISGD 2019 content including articles from the BBC’s Olive Magazine, The Daily Record, The Spirits Business and more.

We always wanted the day and the ISGD platform to encourage collaboration and create some unique opportunities on the day. We invited a number of gin communicators and bloggers to be officially involved and we were delighted with the response. With many creating original content around ISGD and Scottish Gin, we saw a variety of articles published in the run up to the day. A number of our official supporters also made their way to Edinburgh for The Gin Fayre presents International Scottish Gin Day event.

We sought the support and sponsorship from a number of businesses we felt played a role in the Scottish Gin supply chain. We were delighted to work with a number of leading businesses who saw the value in being involved with ISGD through our sponsorship opportunities.

Planning for International Scottish Gin Day 2020, which falls on Saturday 8th of August 2020, is well underway with a number of new features on the official ISGD website and discussions currently taking place with participants. We’re very excited to see ISGD continue to grow as the official day in the drinks calendar that celebrates and showcases Scotland’s brilliant gin makers and brands.

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