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Whisky’s ruin

21 : 12 : 2016 Gin : Whisky : Sipping

UK – Domestic sales of gin are forecast to outpace those of whisky by 2020.

  • While gin sales are predicted to go from strength to strength, whisky’s more traditional image is likely to lead to a fall in sales
  • Scotland will be the winner either way because it is the domestic centre of production for both spirits
  • Gin is encroaching on whisky’s territory as more consumers are beginning to drink the spirit straight

New research by Euromonitor reveals that while blended Scotch whisky sales reached £1.28bn ($1.58bn, €1.52bn) in the UK in 2015, sales of gin were not too far behind, at £1.07bn ($1.32bn, €1.27bn). What is more, gin sales are predicted to climb to £1.37bn ($1.69bn, €1.63bn) by 2020, and whisky sales are set to fall away to £1.17bn ($1.44bn, €1.39bn) in the same year.

Regardless of which spirit wins out, Scotland will remain the beneficiary. Alongside the country's traditional role as the home of whisky, it is now also responsible for 70% of the gin drunk in the UK.

While whisky retains a fairly staid image among drinkers, recent innovations in the way gin is produced and the botanicals used to flavour the spirit have made it popular among consumers excited to challenge their palates. Gin’s core role in cocktail-making means that sales have boomed as interest in cocktail culture has grown in recent years. In addition, gin is also now encroaching on whisky’s territory as a straight sipping liquor.

‘The development of the super-premium category led by William Grant’s Hendrick’s brand and the rise of the craft movement and cocktail culture, has helped not only drive volume growth but also premiumise the category,’ Jeremy Cunnington, senior analyst at Euromonitor International, told the BBC.

The Big Picture

A spate of new micro-distilleries trialling brave flavour combinations have helped the gin industry to appeal to consumers looking to test the limits of taste. Read our Countertop Connoisseurs microtrend for more on how the public are challenging their palates.