Its been a tough year for Gordon's, despite Diageo securing a raft of sponsorship deals that included a link-up with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Plymouth Gin has also struggled with an 11 per cent drop in value, testifying to the fact that revamped packaging and a more modern, vodka-esque look isn't always enough.
Greenalls is in double-digit growth for a second year. It might not be packaged in a funky bottle laden with premium cues, but its competitive pricing is obviously attracting drinkers.
The public's renewed interest in London dry gins has also benefited Greenalls. Our nation's capital has become fashionable again with a host of brands playing up their roots. First to champion its heritage was Beefeater in a much-publicised brand overhaul , but that hasn't helped it break back into the top 50 spirits brands. Gonzalez Byass has done the same with its new ≠triple-distilled The London Gin. It's too early to say how much impact the rising popularity of London gins will have on sales, but this trend is surely another sign of the cat≠egory's ongoing revival.
A move towards botanical gins has taken place in the last 12 months. "Botanical flavours are now a key selling point," says David John, sales director for Malcolm Cowen's Sloe Gin, which is made with organic sloes. Factor in ≠newcomers such as Hendrick's, which boasts cucumber and rose petals in its mix, and Gabriel Boudier Saffron Gin, which contains eight fresh botanicals including coriander, orange peel and saffron, and the category appears to have a strong future.
While it is clear innovation is no longer reserved for the on-trade, it will take time before consumer interest in quirky, less mainstream brands translates into sales and has any real effect on the top five.
Retailers' shelves might be groaning under the weight of niche brands such as Whitley Neill and Martin Miller's, but these names have a long way to go before becoming challengers to the big boys.
Off-trade gin value
Year to 11/8/2007: £251 million
Year to 15/07/2006: £245 million
Change from Aug 2006: +2%
Top five gin brands
1 Gordon's -5%
2 Bombay Sapphire +12%
3 Greenalls Gin +18%
4 Plymouth Gin -11%
5 Tanqueray +12%