Forest Gin hits it big in Japanese market

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

Forest Gin Distillery has been inundated with orders from Japan
Forest Gin Distillery has been inundated with orders from Japan
A Macclesfield-based distillery is expecting exports to grow tenfold following massive demand from Japanese customers for its new line of whisky.

Run by husband and wife team, Karl and Lindsay Bond, Forest Gin has been running for three years and is currently available in 10 countries.

Its new brand Forest Whisky was launched following repeat orders in Japan for the company’s earl grey-infused gin.

Currently, the family-run distillery’s exports make up 17% of its sales but with this new launch and demand, the business plans to increase exports to constitute 90% of total revenue in five years’ time.

The Forest Gin team recently joined trade missions to China, Japan and the US, organised as part of the Food is GREAT campaign, a joint initiative by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) to help British food and drink businesses sell their goods and services overseas.

Karl Bond, co-founder of the Forest Distillery, said: “We’ve been amazed at the reception to our gin from overseas buyers. We’re expecting our exports to grow substantially over the next few years, especially as we continue to find trusted contacts in new markets, with support from DIT.

“We’re very excited about the launch of Forest Whisky. We’re only the 15th distiller in England to be granted a licence to mature whisky, and to receive pre-orders at this early stage shows how highly regarded British distillers are internationally.”

With this growth comes challenges, including the transport of the bottles.

“We expect to face a few challenges as we grow our exports,” ​added Bond. “The logistics of transporting our porcelain bottles is an obvious one. But support is on hand from DIT to help us connect with distribution partners that we can trust to take maximum care of our products. With the support that’s available, there’s nothing stopping others like us in the drinks business to find a footing in new markets.”

‘Ginaissance’

Paul Stowers, head of North West region at DIT, said: “While it’s the Scottish that are typically best known for their whisky exports, ambitious drinks businesses like Forest Distillery are beginning to fly the flag for English whisky overseas.

​We’re also currently seeing a surge in demand for British gin from abroad, as part of a so-called ‘ginaissance’, which is the result of excellent products like Forest Gin.”

According to DIT, UK exports of gin have risen by 19% in the first half of 2018 and are predicted to reach £600 million by the end of the year.

Stowers added: “This is more than double the value exported in 2008. The US and Australia in particular are hot markets for British gin, and we’d urge any distiller to get in touch with one of our local international trade advisers to find out how they can begin or grow their trade overseas.”

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