UK Gin Industry: Booming Behemoth or Bursting Bubble?

The great British gin fling, where we have seen some expediential growth in the fortunes of the industry, has been well documented. The last few years has seen an explosion in the amount of gin the UK has been selling, both domestically and abroad.

Now, however, we may be seeing signs that this is coming to the end and so we take a look at the UK gin industry and try to unravel whether it will continue to be a booming behemoth or bursting bubble.

Cocktail drink

Our Love Affair with Gin

Gin or as some people used to call it Mothers Ruin, first hit the streets of London in the 17-century. And whilst it has always been a relatively popular drink the number of gin distilleries in the UK has doubled since 2010, many of them “boutiques” producing artisan tipples with cool names and groovy bottles. Gin festivals are all the rage, like the one held at the Victoria Baths, Manchester and sales of gin were estimated to reach around £1.3 billion by 2020.

Weakness in the Market?

This may all be about to end, however, as recently there have been signs of weakness in the market, with a big gin festival organiser,, going into administration and the Northern Ireland drinks company, Botl Wine and Spirit Merchants, followed suit, being administrated by RSM.

So, is gin starting to lose favour with the public at large or is it a simple matter of the market being over saturated?

Well, in both the cases of and of Botl Wine and Spirit Merchants, it has been reported that the business problems stemmed from “over-stretching” – both companies tried to scale too quickly and as a result ran into financial difficulties.

But is this the case across the wider drinks industry?

CloudWater Brew Co
CloudWater Brew Co – photo credit: Beers Manchester

Reasons to Say Cheers

As the gin renaissance has been occurring, similar trends have been coming to the fore in the wider drinks industry and none more prevalent than that of the craft beer movement. Companies such as BrewDog have been enormously successful, as have countless other microbreweries and this trend doesn’t look like it will end any time soon.

Cloudwater, for example, who recently opened their first taproom in Manchester have announced a second venue due to open in London in the autumn. And this is perhaps a reflection of what consumers are really looking for at the moment – bespoke products made with a little tender loving care.

So in this case, it would appear that for companies who look to grow too quickly, problems are far more likely to occur. But, those who remain focused on quality and grow more organically are currently the order of the day and gin will continue to be a firm favourite.