Report points to continuing rise in spirits in bars and pubs

Mojito Matthew Clark

Malt whisky, spiced rum and gin are showing growth in the UK alongside consumers’ continuing desire for good value, according to the latest Market Report from William Grant & Sons UK.

While consumers continue to go out less, they are still seeking out premium spirits and liqueurs which are growing ahead of mainstream products, even in mainstream bars and pubs.

William Grant & Sons UK, previously known as First Drinks Brands, highlights how 79% of drinkers consider spirits when they are out, helping to grow the on-trade spirits market by 5.1% year on year to £5.4billlion.

Using figures from research groups CGA and Nielsen, the Market Report notes there has been a 12% increase in the number of spirit brands stocked in the on-trade over the past two years, with the number of premium brands up by 15%.

The volume of spirits in cocktails is also rising, up 3.9%, with 5.4% more venues now offering cocktails, led by their spread into pubs.

The Mojito (pictured) remains the UK’s favourite cocktail but the Market Report notes that it is starting to show a decline “with women and the under-30s who are now preferring to explore other alternatives”.

“Immersive experiences” are identified as a key tool for growing drinks value, with many higher-end brands offering interesting serves, personal touches and high-quality experiences. New evidence suggests that perception of value is also evolving, now relating to brands that offer added value.

Across the on- and off-trade, the Market Report notes that it is increasingly common for people to seek out “something that is limited or unique in the way it is crafted”. This remains especially relevant for premium brands in the drinks sector, such as limited-edition whiskies.

The report reveals strong value growth in the malt whisky and spiced/flavoured rum categories, improved through companies like William Grant & Sons UK investing in educating consumers at the point of purchase on whisky flavour spectrums.

Rum’s versatility and use in cocktails has contributed to its growth, particularly in the on-trade, the report notes. Gin is also performing well, with an explosion of new brands helping to fuel general consumer interest in the category.

With premium gin growing at six and a half times the rate of mainstream gin, the Market Report predicts that the opportunity remains for further growth.

Gary Keogh, marketing director of William Grant & Sons UK, said: “The market is more polarised than ever and it is premium brands which can really take advantage of this trend. Value can mean many things from functional benefits to packaging and personality, with brands such as Sailor Jerry and Hendrick’s really embracing and benefiting from the latter.”

Chris Mason, managing director of William Grant & Sons UK, added: “As this report concludes, premium brands are extremely well placed to benefit from the trends the market is experiencing. This is why building premium brands that consumers desire is core to our business.”

Commenting on the company’s change of name after 18 years, he said: “This is an exciting time for our business as we take the next positive steps in our evolution. Becoming William Grant & Sons UK will allow us to benefit from the international footprint of our group, with its fine reputation as innovators and builders of premium, international brands.

“We are in a good position to drive long-term value for our outstanding portfolio of premium spirits by continued investment and strong working relationships with customers and our partners. This approach will enable us to deliver successful business solutions to our customers, to the benefit of their consumers.”

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