Is The Rapid Rise Of The Gin Industry Killing Traditional Drinking Cultures?

As I am sure you know over the last 5 years the gin industry has taken a rapid rise seeming to come completely out of nowhere. It is no surprise that the rise of the industry itself is seen as nothing short of a miracle for distilleries large or small. More and more people are being seen to spend more and buying big on premium brands of alcohol. Now more than ever, people are less likely now to go for a standard bottle of wine or beer from the supermarket and are now focusing on more premium labels, which is one of the main reasons for the rise of the industry itself.HD1

In 20018 the sales of gin reached a record high rising 40% in the combined markets of bars, hospitality and supermarkets reaching £1.5 billion, selling around 55 million bottles in 12 months. In the last 5 years the sales in the UK alone for gin have more than doubled. From march 2013 to march 2018 the sales have went from £696 million to £1.5 billion, which is an increase of 804 million, the increase itself is beyond belief when you look at the figures especially with how competitive the drinks market is with so many established brands.


When you look at the larger scale of the growth of the industry you can’t help but think is the rise in sales ruining traditional drinking cultures? can this rise have an instrumental effect on other alcohol markets such as the beer, wine and lower grade spirits. One key factor about the drinks industry is that people all have a preference on a certain brand and tend to stick to that brand throughout most of their life making the market relatively hard to sway especially if you are launching a new brand into the market most people seem very brand loyal to their preferred choice. For me personally I am a Guinness drinker and I tend to very rarely sway away from that brand you would never see me drink any other form of stout such as Murphy’s and I would now and again but not very often take a Hop house or Budweiser. This in my eyes would make me out as being a more traditionally cultured drinker I enjoy a simpler approach to enjoying a drink through a pint of my favourite brand and you wouldn’t see me often sway away from this to other brands. However, with this new-found gin culture you see more and more people venturing away from traditional drinking cultures, going out and maybe trying 6 or even 7 different brands of gin with various different mixers.

The sudden rise of the industry has not just brought with its major profits for the market but also brought about a different culture within the alcohol industry, even the whole idea of going out for a drink has changed people go out and spend a great deal more on the premium brands, put a lot more effort into their appearance and make more of a deal of going for a drink.HD3

Some people would suggest the days of going for a social quite pint after work are now long gone the drinks industry has now changed and grown into a more sophisticated type market. The drinking culture we once knew is now heading out of the social norm it is now becoming more and more of a monthly event with and the social, traditional culture side is gradually disappearing.HD4

If this rapid rise of the gin market keeps up it could result in the rest of the market suffering greatly, it is clearly seen by major companies the way the industry is going with Diageo now more than ever pushing out their premium drinks rage such as Tanqueray at promotions, as well focusing highly on their gin range with the new release of Gordon’s Pink gin taking centre stage the last 2 years. This itself shows not a great deal of faith in the traditional drinks industry with the major brands Diageo owns such as Guinness, Harp, Carlsberg and Smirnoff almost being moved out of centre stage to make way for gin brands.HD2

If this rapid rise of the gin market keeps up before we know it the industry itself could become one sided. The traditional drinking culture we know will gradually get smaller and possibly even disappear. As a result, this could lead to once major brands declining in sales and possibly even disappearing themselves. The social aspect of our drinking culture may be turned into an upper-class privilege and less of a social culture for everyone. Although some may say this is nothing more than a phase in the industry, and this possibly is true, however one this is for sure and that is that it has had a major effect on the traditional drinking culture we have. The industry is now becoming more sophisticated and with that comes more expense. Gin may only be the top of the industry for a few more years but what it’s done to the industry might have led to a permanent change to the traditional drinking culture we have.

Hugh Dornan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: LinkedIn –