The Gin-Spangled Banner: what’s the state of the spirit in the USA?

We all know that gin has exploded in popularity in the UK in recent years as the spirit has grown well beyond your grandmother’s drink. But what about in the world’s largest alcohol market, the United States? It turns out, gin is catching on… and fast. 

USA gin

The growing popularity of gin across the pond is being driven by Millennials, that feisty experimental demographic born after 1980 and reaching young adulthood around the turn of the century. These 20-35 year-old Americans, intrigued with the resurgence of classic cocktails and willing to trade up for quality food & drink over the mass-produced swill to which previous generations grew accustomed, took the messages of shows like Mad Men to heart. In fact, men seem to be driving the trend as American women shift more towards whisky: 62% of gin-based drinks in “contemporary and upscale venues” are ordered by men according to consulting and research company Technomic.

Technomic presented its findings to the American on-trade crowd at the Beverage Executive Symposium, the company showed that Hendrick’s has had a big impact creating awareness for the category, a trend similar to what has happened in the UK. It seems that gin imports are in high demand, which could potentially open up path for more UK craft distillers to export to the US as Scottish gin NB has recently done. Of course, there are over 1,000 distilleries in the States, some of which have turned to gin. 

USA gin

Just the same, “New World Gin”, as gin made outside of the UK and Europe are often called, can be substantially different from the craft gins we drink as regulations stipulate a prominence of juniper and a minimum ABV percentage of 37.5%. In the US, these rules do not exist and some of their gins play down the juniper. It would thus be very educational for American consumers to be able to taste a range of UK gins and compare them with their native New Worlds. 

And with the category as a whole expanding 3.8% in the US from 2013 to 2014 and gin-based cocktail listings increasing 18% between 2014 and 2015, there’s certainly room for more UK craft distillers to export to our cousins across the Atlantic.