Majestic Wine and Maverick Drinks are Driving the Craft spirits movement forward

Since abandoning big brands and taking the range in a new direction, Majestic has been at the forefront of the craft movement. With a host of new listings for 2018, in partnership with Maverick Drinks, the UK's leading distributor of craft spirits, there’s now even more to discover at the UK’s largest wine retailer.

But first, let's take a look at how we got here.

In 2014, Majestic Wine took the bold step of becoming the first national retailer to get behind the emerging craft spirits movement. For years, they'd spent time and money sourcing great quality wines from around the world. Next, they turned their focus to craft beer, which within a short amount of time, was already making a big impact on their overall beer sales - but they were still selling the same mainstream spirits as everyone else. To lead the market would require a radical rethink in how spirits played a part in Majestic's sales strategy overall - It was time to pay the same amount of attention to spirits as was being paid to wine and craft beer.

We worked very closely with Majestic in mid-2014 to develop their craft spirits proposition with a range of quality products that deliver higher margins. That October, we launched three products across their entire 210 store estate:

  • Ableforth's Bathtub Gin
  • Ableforth's Rumbullion! Spiced Rum
  • St George Spirits Terroir Gin

In just the first three months, the results were obvious. Sales were down 50% by volume, but up 30% by value. The strategy was working.

Fast forward a year to Q4 2015 and the double-digit growth across the group is being "bolstered by consumer demand for spirits -- particularly artisan gin". Spirits brands such as Sipsmith London Dry and our very own Ableforth's Bathtub Gin grew by as much as 144%. 

Clearly, there was no going back and craft spirits were now firmly a part of the strategy for growth at Majestic.

Each year the category has continued to grow. The craft spirits movement has led to a nearly 400% growth in spirits sales over the 3 and a half years since Majestic first "shifted emphasis from big brands to craft in spirits".

In that time, Majestic has tasted and tested literally hundreds of new arrivals. You can now sample spirits from Scandinavia to Stirling, California to Cornwall at any branch, where local listings sit smartly alongside international offerings.

Overseeing the whole operation is Spirits Buyer and MW student Beth Pearce. “It’s a hugely exciting time to be a spirits retailer in the UK”, she explains, “You never know where the next big thing (or gin!) is going to come from. Being able to go into a Majestic, see spirits from around the globe or down the road, and taste through the range with a qualified guru is a dream. It means we keep ahead of the curve. We have a direct line to our customers and they can tell us what they love there and then.”

In continuing our partnership with Majestic, we're thrilled to announce three new lines heading to all 210 stores across the country.

Kyrö Distillery Napue Gin

The rye-based Napue gin boasts locally foraged fresh botanicals, including sea buckthorn, cranberries and birch leaves. Napue gin was voted as “The World’s Best Gin for Gin & Tonic” by the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) in 2015 and in 2016 Napue won the gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirit Competition premium gin-series. 

Philadelphia Distilling Bluecoat Gin

Made with 100% organic botanicals, this American dry gin presents a new flavour profile for gin lovers. While London Dry gins are typically dominated by juniper flavoring, Bluecoat Gin presents a complex, yet light and refreshing citrus blend, comprising primarily of sweet citrus and lemon peels. 

St George Spirits NOLA Coffee Liqueur

From the acclaimed distillery that produces St George Terroir Gin, their NOLA Coffee Liqueur is just another example of their uncompromising approach to crafting some of the best spirits in the world. St. George head distiller Dave Smith searched high and low for the perfect ingredients to create an homage to New Orleans–style coffee. Ethiopian Arabica coffee beans, French-roasted chicory root, Madagascar vanilla, and organic cane sugar impart just the right balance of flavors.

Majestic have been a fantastic partner and we will continue to provide them with the best craft spirits we're able to source. We hope these products will continue to drive the whole craft category forward and look forward to seeing the results over the coming years!

-The Team at Maverick Drinks

For any questions, please contact Michael Vachon, Head of Brand Development and Co-Founder of Maverick Drinks.