Go ahead. Ask someone around you to name 20 different brands of gin. Chances are, they’ll struggle to get to 10. So how could anyone ever manage 475 brands? And how does the fact that 475 brands exist signal a bubble of bottles?
Let’s start in Spain. In the north-western town of Palencia, you’ll find a bar called The Lemon Society that looks set to claim the title of “Most Gins Commercially Available” in the Guinness Book of World Records. With 475 bottles to choose from, the bar has one unique gin for every 170 residents of the 81,000-person town.
If Guinness World Records accepts the Lemon Society as the record holder, it will have stolen the crown from the Old Bell Inn in Saddleworth, a civil parish in Greater Manchester, which was awarded the prize this past August for its 404 gins in stock (or 1 unique bottle for every 60 residents).
To put these incredibly well-stocked bars into perspective, the 2012 Guinness Record went to a hotel bar in Oxfordshire that at the time claimed the prize with a mere 161 different gins. That’s right. The number of bottles needed to get into the Guinness Book of World Records almost tripled in two years.
So is there a booze bubble? Whisky writer Ian Buxton thinks they’’ll be a washout in a couple of years as failed distillers close down. Gin writer David T. Smith recalls talk of a bubble as far back as ten years but that he can remember only two shuttering operations in the past six years. Michael Vachon, founder of Maverick Drinks, foresees the continued launch of more brands but thinks their scope will be primarily local with the occasional “brand that’s so good, it can go global.”
Here at the Craft Gin Club, we think there is room for new brands to grow. In the gin market specifically, the super-premium category currently composes 2% of the entire gin market whereas one brand, Gordon’s, holds a 46% market share in the UK. These figures appear significantly askew, especially considering the 26 distilleries opening in the UK this year alone.
It will be hard work, but we’re certain that over the next few years, more new and independent brands with amazing stories to tell will begin to make a bigger dent in the sales of large corporations.
What do you think? We’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.