You’d have to be living under a rock or the roof of a Buddhist monastery to not notice gin’s remarkable return to popularity.

In the UK during the 18th century, the tipple wasn’t taxed – making it cheaper than beer. It also lacked the water-borne diseases associated with the taps of the time. And then, when you throw in its leg-wobbling capabilities, you’ve got a combination guaranteed to make a splash.

And what a splash it was.

No drink earns the titles “the opium of the people” and “mother’s ruin” by chance. In London alone 10 million gallons of gin were being distilled annually. The population, especially those from the poorer echelons, were drowning in the stuff; guzzling 14 gallons each on average every year.

How big an impact did it have? With swathes of people spending much of their day under the effects of gin, sterility rose and the enthusiasm/ability to raise a family fell. And that’s why it’s been cited as one of the key reasons behind London’s death rate eclipsing the birth rate at the time.

A lot can change in 300 years

Fast forward to the 21st century and gin has returned to its throne as the UK’s most popular spirit, albeit in much more glamorous fashion this time around. Driven by premium ingredients, inventive flavours and luxury branding, sales of gin have seen unprecedented growth year on year. And artisan gin suppliers such as Warner’s Distillery have catapulted themselves to success, landing at #6 in the Fast Track 100.

We’ll be welcoming Tom and Tina Warner, the couple behind Warner’s, to our very first HUB CP entrepreneurs’ event at our East Midlands office on October 17th. They’ll be sharing their story and the importance of pouring everything into authenticity. And we’ll have the chance to ask them a whole lot of questions. If you’d like to come along, we’d love to have you – you can sign up here.

Throughout the “ginaissance”, gin has, as the name suggests, slurped up much of the limelight. But where would it be without its ever-present partner in crime, tonic water?

The changing face of gin’s bitter sidekick

Despite playing second fiddle in the UK’s most intoxicating double act, tonic’s history is perhaps not what you’d expect. It was consumed heavily by British East India Company’s army when they were overseas because it contains quinine – a common treatment for malaria. Despite its medical properties, the bitterness of tonic wasn’t to their taste, and so it was actually gin that was added to the now mixer to create a more pleasant flavour. Not the other way round.

The early 21st century tonic market was dominated by Britvic and Schweppes; two large, conservative brands that were slow and reluctant to concoct new flavours. And because their tonics were mass produced and served out of a nozzle, their look, feel and taste were very much at odds with the innovation and premium selling points driving craft gin’s phenomenal success.

There was a gap in the market. A demand for premium mixers to accompany this new wave of high-quality gins. And no one seized the opportunity better than Fever-Tree. They were only founded in 2005, and since then their tonics have achieved worldwide acclaim from both consumers and the industry alike. And that success is all built off a simple notion featured in one of their ad slogans: “If three quarters of your gin and tonic is the tonic, make sure you use the best”.

Putting flavour first

Fever-Tree’s products prioritise full-bodied flavour, delivered through a combination of stellar ingredients sourced from all over the world. They quenched consumer’s thirst for flavour with a range including Indian, Mediterranean, Elderflower, Aromatic, Sicilian Lemon, Cucumber and Citrus tonic waters. And even brought out their lower sugar, “refreshingly light” variations too.

Price falls much lower in their concerns. Why? Because they knew that in a sea of stale tasting, mass produced tonics, flavour and quality will triumph – as they had already started to in the gin market.

Bars and restaurants didn’t want to look like they were opting for cheap stock, and so they swapped their tonics from bland nozzles to striking Fever-Tree bottles. 14 years on from its launch, Fever-Tree is sitting pretty as the UK’s most popular mixer brand in bars, pubs and supermarkets, dominating the market and reporting 40% revenue growth last year.

It’s fitting (and somewhat predictable) that premium gins and tonics have enjoyed their rise to success hand in hand. You’ve heard how Fever-Tree became just the tonic in a tasteless market, now it’s over to Warner’s Distillery to tell us the story behind their irresistible artisan gins. Join us on October 17th to hear just that; accompanied by delicious food, entertainment and of course – gin!


STEVE NOSS, Head of Creative


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