Gin and sparkling wine sales are providing a significant boost to British pubs according to new figures released by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).
Wine and spirits made up 49% of the value of drinks sold in new pubs bars and restaurants opened in 2013 – 2015, the new statistics show.
The WSTA Market Report also reveals £601m worth of gin was sold on trade and £424m off trade. in the last 12 months to August.
According to the industry body, the warm English summer has seen gin sales hit a billion ahead of forecasts of 2017.
In the last 12 weeks alone, £149m worth of gin was sold in UK pubs, bars and restaurants, up 19% on last year.
It is a similar story for sparkling wine (not including champagne) which in the last 12 weeks sold £97m in pubs, bars and restaurants, up 19% on last year.
There has been an increase in the number of specialist gin bars opening, as well as pubs and restaurants offering gin menus and serving G&T’s with alternative garnishes in bespoke glassware.
Meanwhile a gin hotel has opened, the Hendricks’ double decker gin bus, gin and tonic flavoured crisps and ice-creams and even a gin and tonic inspired drizzle cake on the new series of the Great British Bake Off.
In 2015 a total 56 new distilleries were opened according to the HMRC – 28 in England, six in Wales, 10 in Northern Ireland and 12 in Scotland.
Price per litre of gin also continues to grow, rising by an average of 35% since Q1 2012, compared to 29% in the spirits category overall.
Appealing to a new generation of drinkers, younger consumers were more likely to order gin in a pub or bar.
The WSTA findings show bar entrepreneurs are looking at ways of serving spirits and fizz to diversify and update the great British pub’s traditionally beer oriented image.
As well as gin inspired menus, ‘fizz Fridays’ and Prosecco promotions are now a common feature in British pubs.
Spirit drinks account for 25.8% of this figure and wine 22.8%, in new pub and bar openings between 2013-15, showing that wine and spirits are now as important to the pub trade as beer and cider.
In the last 12 months £804m worth of sparkling wine and Champagne was sold on trade, up 13% on the same period last year.
In total sparkling wine and champagne sold in the UK, on and off trade combined in the last 12 months, has reached £1.1bn, up 11%.
In total, gin sales in 2015 accounted for 11.5% of the UK spirits market by volume, up 25% on 2014.
This shows gin gaining ground on Scotch whisky, which accounted for 18.2% of spirits sold in the UK, up 0.4% in volume over the same period.
Vodka, which outsells all spirits in the on and off trade, took 29.7% of the market, up 5% in volume.
In the on trade alone, vodka reached £1.9bn in yearly sales.
Imported whisky continues to outperform Scotch in the UK, with Irish whiskey emerging from the doldrums in 2015 thanks to flagship brand Jameson.
US whiskey grew by over 13% in 2015 with Jack Daniel’s overtaking Famous Grouse as the UK’s number one whisky, driven by younger drinkers and a trend for Americana.
While white rum declined in sales, golden and dark rum showed the benefits of premiumisation, with overall increase of rum sales reaching £600m.
In restaurants, diners most commonly drank white wine, closely followed by red, with rosé slightly more popular than sparkling to eat with a meal this summer.
In pubs, lager, ale and cider were the most popular choices respectively, with vodka more popular than white wine.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: “The WSTA’s latest Market Report shows how popular gin has become with UK consumers, including those supporting British pubs. While bar owners and restaurateurs have seen the magic and versatility of the quintessentially British spirit gin menus and bespoke glassware are now a regular feature in pubs too.
“The gin revolution shows no sign of slowing and consumers are enjoying the celebrated juniper based spirit in all sorts of creative ways. We were delighted to see a gin and tonic drizzle cake making an appearance in the latest series of the Great British Bake Off.
“And wine too – the nation’s most popular alcoholic drink – continues to play an extremely vital role in our pubs, including as part of the broader British food and drink revolution. Wine and spirits, gin and fizz in particular, are now mainstays of a successful pub, showing the increasing diversity of our industry and the modern consumer.”
James Baer, managing director of c120 strong pub group Amber Taverns, which has ten gin palace concepts Hogarths, said: “Anything that is innovative, and provides a new angle for wet led business is good.
“There’s a gin that suits everybody there’s a bit of theatre with the way we serve it in different garnishes in large bowl glasses, and a lot of gins are very approachable in the way some whiskies, cognacs and dark rums aren’t.
“Premium gins are more approachable price wise as well as taste wise. Another thing is its appeal to male drinkers as well as female, it does have a broad customer base.”
Liz Hardman, director of drinks trading at Mitchells & Butlers, said: “As we see consumer interest continue to grow in both gin and sparkling wine, at Mitchells & Butlers we are also developing our range and activity in these categories, adding greater choice through new and innovative products and excitement through consumer-led experiences. A notable recent example being the highly successful Gin Festival across our Nicholson’s pubs during July and August. We see continued growth opportunities in these areas and will continue to ensure our offers excite and delight our guests.”