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Gin in the USA – the American dream?

Simon Ford

The allure of expanding your gin business to the USA is an attractive option. Profit margins can be high. Consumers in the USA purchased over 10 million cases last year. Gin sales are on the rise again after decades of decline and cocktail culture is mainstream, giving gin an enormous platform in which to shine. The USA however should not be looked upon as one giant opportunity but rather 50 smaller ones, as each state in the USA comes with its own set of laws, taxes, distribution and systems.

Each market in the USA comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Understanding the nuances between each market/state can save any small business time, energy, effort and money. Knowing the opportunities available can help make informed business decisions about how you go to market, invest and grown your brand. For example, did you know that in New York you must post the price of your product and any bulk discounts you are offering a month in advance with the state liquor authority.

Failure to do so could cost you a month of business when opening up this market. This may seem like a pointless exercise to some but the advantage for a small business is the opportunity to see exactly how everyone else is pricing their gin, which will help you position your own brand knowingly, to exactly where you would like it to be priced.

Pay to play is also illegal in New York, which takes away some of the advantages that larger brands have over smaller ones in this state. This makes New York an attractive place to launch a gin. Combine that with the knowledge that there are over 19000 liquor licenses and chain retail is banned and you have a paradise of opportunity as a small up and coming gin brand. It is unlikely in your early years of business that your distributor will be anything more than be a delivery service for you until you have proven to them that your brand is working, or that you can offer them significant investment to grow your brand for you. So now you are faced with the decision of how you plan to make sure your gin hits the shelves and back bars.

There isn’t enough room here to share this information, but a great start to better understand the USA would be to invest in one hour of time with a lawyer ( I recommend Ryan Malkin) and find out what you need to do be legally compliant in the USA and get some basics on the rules of engagement. This investment will save you a lot of time and set you off on a path where I hope you will make a lot fewer mistakes launching in the USA than I did.

Website: www.fordsgin.com
Tel: +1 917 412 3428
Instagram: fordsgin
Twitter @simonjford

About Simon

Simon is a leading voice of the global cocktail and bar industry, with over 20 years experience in bartending, educating on cocktails & gin, and marketing some of the worlds most recognised spirit brands. He is regularly invited to lead education sessions, judge global competitions, and deliver seminars at international conferences such as Tales of the Cocktail, Brooklyn Bar Convent, London Cocktail week and P(OUR), among others.

Simon started working with Plymouth Gin in 1998, and using gin education as a platform, helped relaunch the historic gin brand into several markets around the globe, including the USA where he moved in 2006 and went on to assume on the role of Director of Trade Marketing for Pernod Ricard. He was awarded Best International Brand Ambassador in 2007 and Best US Brand Ambassador in 2009 for his work on Plymouth Gin at the Tales of the Cocktail conference’s Spirited Awards, before taking on the role as Chairman and Host of the awards.

Simon also worked with Allen Katz at the New York Distilling company playing a role in creation of their Dorothy Parker and Perry’s Tot gins before he went on create and develop Fords Gin, with Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers, which was launched in September of 2012.

Fords Gin

Distilled in London at Thames Distillers, Fords Gin is a collaboration between Master Distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford. A mix of nice botanicals, the gin starts with a traditional base of juniper and coriander seed and balanced by citrus (bitter orange, lemon and grapefruit peel), florals (Jasmine flower & orris) ad spices (angelica and cassia).

Steeped for 15 hours before distillation, the botanicals deliver an aromatic fresh floral spirit with elegant notes of orange blossom that create a “cocktail gin” that plays beautifully in classic and innovative gin cocktails. Since its launch in 2013, Fords Gin has received numerous awards and accolades.