By Andy Young

New data from Roy Morgan Research shows that gin is continuing to grow and is making gains on vodka as Australia's most popular white spirit.

The data shows that the average number of Australian adults drinking gin in an average four-week period has grown from 633,000 in March 2010 to 860,000 now.

The average number of monthly vodka drinkers is 1.1 million, but that number is virtually unchanged from five years ago, despite overall population growth.

Andrew Price, general manager consumer products with Roy Morgan Research, said: "Gin has gained around 220,000 more drinkers since 2010, and its popularity has increased across all age groups. However brand preferences vary greatly across different age groups. 

"Bombay Sapphire is the top drop among 18-24 year-olds, Tanqueray and niche brands hit the spot with gin drinkers aged 25-49, and Gordon's (at nearly 250 years old itself) remains the sentimental favourite among those 65 and up.

"When it comes to vodka, although the overall number of drinkers is steady at over 1.1 million this total comprises a decline of almost 100,000 18-34 year-old consumers, offset by an equivalent increase in drinkers aged 35-plus."

Over one in six of 18-24 year-olds (17 per cent) drink vodka and seven per cent drink tequila in an average four weeks—but the consumption rates of each decline sharply, and continue declining the older we get.

Gin is proving to be a drink for all ages and has overtaken tequila as the second most popular white spirit among those 25-34, and is almost as popular as vodka among those 35-49. By 50 and over, gin has become the clear leader.

In a recent interview with bars&clubs magazine, Gregoire Bertaud, owner of Noble Spirits which imports Fair Gin, said that the rise of gin had come as a consequence of targeting vodka drinkers. 

"Over the last 10 years or so gin has been an unpopular spirit. It can be too strong with confusing flavours and above all a spirit drunk by the older generation – and we never want to drink what our parents drank," Bertaud said.

"Vodka, on the other hand, driven by heavy advertising and smart partnerships became the drink of choice – it was versatile, tasteless and easy to mix and drink. 

"But over the last few years, we have seen more and more innovation in the old dusty category from packaging to unusual flavours.

However the trigger point really came from clever marketers who created gin profiles that would target the vodka drinkers. Gin profiles moved closer to flavoured vodkas with more citrus or floral notes or even unusual flavours such as rose or cucumber. 

"We also started to see an improvement in the available tonics on the market that delivered a more enjoyable classic, the Gin and Tonic. However, it wasn't until the last two years where the trend to experiment with classic cocktails really came back. Bartenders started to look for old recipes and consumers strived for more authentic drinks."

The research also showed that white rum has fallen from 446,000 drinkers in 2010 to 324,000 now. Tequila also lost, down from 336,000 to 312,000 in an average four weeks.   

For more on the gin category see the July/August issue of bars&clubs magazine, which will be out at the end of this month.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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