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Craft Gin Club was founded in 2014 by Jon and John, driven by the need to revolutionise how people discover and enjoy spirits. They observed the rapid growth of the craft gin movement, yet the buying and drinking experiences lacked excitement and guidance.
To bridge this gap, they introduced subscription boxes, offering convenience, curation, and a sense of community. Craft Gin Club’s mission is to connect discerning drinkers with exceptional gins, while creating an immersive and enjoyable experience of discovery.
Continue reading to learn more about their journey.
What inspired the start of Craft Gin Club to change the way people discover and enjoy spirits?
When the founders Jon & John came up with the idea for Craft Gin Club back in 2014, the craft gin movement was really taking off, with more and more small distilleries appearing, creating more and more new gins. It was a really exciting space – but that excitement just wasn’t reflected in either the buying experience or the at-home drinking experience.
Curious drinkers were (and often still are) just confronted with an ‘anonymous wall of booze’, either in the supermarket or online, with little to guide or inspire them in their purchase, or as they experimented with mixers and cocktails themselves.
In addition, the craft distillers involved were largely not skilled marketers, so all the fascinating, inspirational stories behind the gins were getting lost and the most talented producers didn’t have a way to get themselves seen and heard.
The founders knew there had to be a better way to connect these two groups of people and to translate the energy and excitement of this booming sector directly to consumers.
Subscription boxes, which were also experiencing huge growth, seemed like the perfect answer, providing convenience, curation and surprise for customers, as well as the chance to build a loyal community around a shared passion.
How does Craft Gin Club help discerning drinkers cut through the noise, find the very best bottles, and provide insights into the process of selecting and curating the Gin of the Month boxes?
Our expert panels taste over 500 bottles a year to choose just 12 that will make it into our Gin of the Month boxes. That does mean we have to kiss a fair few frogs along the way, but it’s worth it! When deciding whether a distiller has what it takes to be a Craft Gin Club Gin of the Month, of course it all starts with the quality of the liquid. But we also look for producers with an authentic, interesting and engaging story and a connection to the place that they’re from.
We also know that our members drink with their eyes a lot of the time, so the bottle design and branding also plays a part in our decision making. And often we are looking to provide our subscribers with a good range of gins across the year, in terms of location, flavour profile etc.
Once we have our gin in place for any given month, the process of building the box can start. Mixers and garnishes to pair with the gin are obviously based on the expertise of our in-house mixologists, and we always have a theme behind our boxes, which will start with the gin and also take inspiration from the season. This theme will help to tell the story of the gin. For example it could be geographical, centred on a key botanical or brand value of the distiller and adds a really important element to our members’ enjoyment of the whole experience.
The additional products that go in the box are selected to fit with this theme, as well as to provide the right mix of discovery of new and upcoming brands and pure enjoyment, which might come from new brands or old favourites.
We also create a bespoke, three-step cocktail for every box, which is developed by our expert mixologists to both pair perfectly with the gin and help support that box theme.
From start (tasting and choosing the gin) to finish (all box contents finalised), that whole process can take from 18 months to two years!
In what ways does Craft Gin Club increase subscribers’ knowledge and expertise in the world of spirits?
One really important element of each box is our glossy magazine! This is packed with information and inspiration – from interviews with our featured distiller, to educational features and cocktails recipes. Our readership rates on the magazine are consistently really high, and we know that it’s a really important element of the experience for our members.
As well as our print publication we also produce a lot of online content, via our digital and social channels, which introduces a wider audience to the world of spirits and cocktails on a daily basis.
We also offer online ‘masterclass’’ events, focused on cocktail-making and gin tasting.
Creating a like-minded community is a key aspect of Craft Gin Club. How does the club foster connections and facilitate interactions among its members?
We’ve worked hard to grow a really active and engaged audience across our social media channels.
For example, our monthly photo competition rewards members for sharing photos of their Gin of the Month boxes and shop purchases. We also produce regular ‘engagement’ focused posts, encouraging our followers to get involved in discussion and debate.
In particular, our Facebook Group, Craft Gin Clubbers (34k+ members) has really high engagement. This is a community-led space where our members (and other gin lovers) interact with us and each other, sharing tips, questions and their enjoyment of spirits.
Supporting small, independent distillers is a significant part of Craft Gin Club’s mission. How do you collaborate with these distillers to help them reach a wider audience and grow their businesses?
Once a producer makes it into our Gin of the Month boxes, they’re welcomed into our Family of Distillers and the range of ongoing benefits that brings.
We’re so proud that featuring in a Gin of the Month box can genuinely transform a small distiller’s business. Firstly, it gives them unprecedented (and unbeatable) exposure among a very large – but also targeted and engaged – audience of spirits lovers. We help them maximise this opportunity through our expert marketing, content and creative support throughout their campaign.
We also offer some very practical support. We’re well aware that this will be by far the biggest order they’ve ever had, and we are able to leverage our experience, industry contacts and supply chain expertise to help guide them through the process.
But our support also extends well beyond their initial campaign with us. From preferential listings at our online shop to collaborating with us on new product development, we want their Craft Gin Club experience to have a real and lasting impact on their small business.
Craft Gin Club has seen remarkable success with its own-brand range and gin advent calendars. Could you tell us more about the development and popularity of these products?
We launched our first own-brand products in 2019, in the form of dried G&T garnish packs and specially developed cocktail syrups which we included in our Gin of the Month boxes. These are now a regular part of the box contents, allowing our members to create a Perfect G&T and an easy, three-step Cocktail of the Month.
We also now have a range of large-format garnish packs and cocktail syrups on our online shop. All our cocktail syrups are developed in-house by our expert mixologist and designed so that all you need to do is add gin and mixer to create bar-quality cocktails at home. The range includes original recipes alongside ginny twists on some old favourites, such as the Ginspresso Martini, Gin on the Beach and Gina Colada.
We also work closely with our Family Distillers to develop other products in our range – from miniature explorer sets featuring their craft gins to our own gin liqueurs, which are distinctive in their use of a craft gin base.
The hero product from our festive own-brand range is our annual gin advent calendar, which we started producing in 2020 and has been incredibly successful. It’s a big project, featuring 25 different craft gin miniatures, but it’s something we all love working on and sharing with our audience. It’s such a brilliant way to showcase lots of different craft distillers and we know that people have so much fun discovering all the goodies! We’ve sold over 34,000 to date – and can’t wait to share this year’s amazing edition in the next few months.
We’ve got big plans for our own-brand range in the future, and want to build on the early success we’ve had in getting these products into retail shelves. We’re already in talks with a number of different national retailers about developing new products for them, so watch this space!
With the rise of direct-to-consumer brands, how has Craft Gin Club managed to stand out and become a leader in the spirits industry?
We’ve always set out to do more than just sell great bottles of booze (although we do sell a lot of those!) – we want to create amazing experiences that redefine the way people discover and enjoy new drinks at home.
We democratise access to great spirits, helping curious consumers cut through the noise to find the very best bottles – without wasting time and money on the bad ones. We guide drinkers as they discover more about their favourite spirits, connect with a like-minded community and elevate their at-home experiences – all while having a lot of fun along the way! We support small, independent producers, providing a platform to engage with a large but targeted audience, and using our industry expertise to help them grow their own businesses.
By creating richer experiences for people and focusing on building a community around those experiences, we’ve been able to amass a large audience of loyal customers who love our products and continue to buy from us for many years.
What are some of the most memorable stories or experiences you’ve encountered from Craft Gin Club subscribers?
We’ve had so many! We have stories of members who have made lifelong friends through Craft Gin Club (meeting in the Facebook Group for instance), people who have had ginny weddings using their Gin of the Month bottles as table centrepieces, members who have come together to support another member in need, whether that’s for a charitable cause, anonymously offering to pay for someone’s subscription for a month when someone’s having a hard time, or just being there for each other.
Lockdown was a really stand-out time for seeing the importance for our community of coming together online, keeping each others’ spirits up (no pun intended!), sharing positive stories over a G&T and having a bit of fun through our virtual events.
We also love seeing the amazing gin collections that members have built up by being in the club – and the incredible home bars and gin cabinets that they create to display them!
And then we have to mention the Craft Gin Club tattoo that a long-term member recently shared with us….!
Looking ahead, what exciting plans and innovations can we expect from Craft Gin Club in the near future?
We’re so excited about what lies ahead. All of our success to date has been achieved largely with one product offering – which is something that we’re really proud of! But we also know that there is so much opportunity for us in further productisation, which will allow us to cater to new and broader audiences – e.g. those who drink more or less, or those who enjoy other spirits.
And we also want to continue to expand into new channels, from the UK High Street to international markets, giving new audiences the chance to discover our products.
Craft Gin Club are passionate about transforming the way people discover and enjoy spirits. Their current campaign has reached its target raising over £750K so far. Check out the pitch to learn more.