International spirits companies have splashed their cash in the craft arena this year

International spirits companies have splashed their cash in the craft arena this year

Even before today's news that Beam Suntory has filled the premium gin-shaped hole in its portfolio, we at just-drinks had concluded that 2016 was gin's year. Today's announcement serves merely to vindicate this view.

Earlier this morning, Beam Suntory announced its purchase of majority control of UK craft gin producer Sipsmith. The transaction, for an undisclosed size and an undisclosed amount, sees Sipsmith join mainstream brands Larios and Gilbey's in Beam Suntory's gin stable.

Rewind to January when Pernod Ricard completed a similar transaction with German gin brand Monkey 47, and we have the book-ends for '2016: The Year of Gin'.

In between, we've considered how companies can win in gin, we've covered off all the essential information the gin segment could possibly need and we've spoken to the new generation of gin entrepreneurs (no, I will not call them gintrepreneurs).

All of this, against a backdrop of booming gin sales - at the high-end, at least. It is little wonder, then, that craft gin producers are taking calls from the big boys.

In the craft arena, it is not just gin that is piquing the interest of the multinationals. As our review of the year for spirits highlights, American whiskey has been a hive of activity this year for the larger spirits players - from Constellation Brands' move for High West Distillery to Pernod's Smooth Ambler Spirits Co purchase.

Historically, the question we industry observers asked of spirits companies concerned perceived category gaps in their portfolios. All of the activity this year suggests to me that such a broad question is outdated: The next one will be why they don't have a craft gin/American whiskey, etc in their portfolios.

All of this can wait, of course. With Christmas approaching, let us take a well-earned break before we go again; If only for the Sipsmith gang to count their winnings!

Craft spirits shake-out will be just the beginning - Click here for a just-drinks comment

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