I don’t know about you, but for me September flew by. On the plus side, the kids went back to school. On the flip side more events were cancelled – including Junipalooza and Think Gin – Craft Distilling Expo’s Gin of the Year judging was postponed and, after an all too brief respite, the hospitality industry found itself on its knees again. Despite much criticism, and an official Public Health England report showing that only 2.8% of traceable transmissions happened in hospitality, the Government has enforced a 10pm curfew which has already directly resulted in the closure of Soho stalwart Milk & Honey.
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s latest figures only go to further confirm what we already knew regarding the on-trade, reporting that since re-opening (and, worryingly, prior to enforcement of the new curfew) “total alcohol sales are down 26% on last year”. The slim silver lining however is that our favourite tipple has “proven to be the most popular spirit since re-opening, with 32% of all spirits sales accounted for by gin”.
The popularity of gin has, for some time however, also seen producers jumping on the bandwagon with products that fail to meet legal requirements. Thankfully The Gin Guild is now taking action against such breaches and, having attracted media attention and threatened legal action, has already secured the withdrawal of so-called Red Storm Gin and Ocean Storm Gin from the market for “wrongly labelling” the spirits as ‘gin’, despite the products only being 29% ABV.
“The Gin Guild, working with our Primary Authority and with our retained solicitors, will continue to monitor and, where appropriate, act to prevent non-compliant products from sale. This is to protect consumers and the industry.”Nicholas Cook, Director General of The Gin Guild
In more positive news, Leicestershire’s Burleighs Gin has surpassed its £100,000 crowdfunding target allowing them to diversify their portfolio by introducing a miniature variant of their core range and by developing a ready-to-drink gin and tonic can and “non-alcoholic gin”.
New Gin Alerts
And non-alcoholic gins are big news! This month has seen the launch of both Salcombe’s New London Light – a non-alcoholic spirit inspired by gin-making principles and featuring juniper, ginger and habanero capsicum – and Warner’s 0% Botanic Garden Spirits in two variants; Juniper Double Dry – featuring cinnamon, cardamom, lemon verbena and lemon thyme – and Pink Berry – featuring raspberries, blackcurrant sage, chilli, ginger and Szechuan pepper.
In the full-strength category, Snoop Dogg’s strawberry-infused Indoggo Gin may have stolen the headlines this month but it’s Porter’s Orchard Gin – inspired by Champagne’s Chardonnay grape and made using cold-distilled green apple and pears alongside their classic juniper base – that I want to try! Highland Liquor Company’s Seven Crofts Fisherman’s Strength Gin has also caught my eye with its stunning blue bottle as has Silent Pool‘s Rare Citrus Gin – their first permanent addition to the family featuring Buddha’s Hand, Natsu Dai Dai (a pomelo and sour orange hybrid), Green Seville Orange and Hirado Buntan (a variety of Japanese Pomelo). And, just as I was about to press ‘publish’, I heard Martin Miller’s are also launching a new limited edition Winterful Gin with cinnamon and mandarin orange peel added in the third distillation.
My Month in Gin
Sadly a lot of the events I had been looking forward to this month were cancelled, but I was honoured (and terrified!) to be asked to join the International Wine & Spirit Competition judging panel for a couple of days. And so it was I spent a good part of Negroni week working my way pretty darn quickly through 140 gin and tonics! Judged blind with Double Dutch Indian Tonic Water, it was hard work but also a wonderful experience and I definitely learnt a lot from my fellow judges too. And with the results released within only a few days of judging I can already share that Elephant London Dry Gin and 58 Apple and Hibiscus Gin both achieved Gold Medals but it was Hernö’s Old Tom Gin which claimed the Gin and Tonic Trophy. Congratulations to them!
Welcome to My Collection
Thank you to Maidstone Distillery for bottles of both their George Bishop and Ranscombe Wild Small Batch Gin and also to Bullards for their new Coastal Gin and Rock Rose for their Pink Grapefruit Old Tom. If you want to know more about them check out my tasting notes and serve suggestions on Instragram. I’m also really excited to have received an early sample of Thunderflower’s new Navy Strength Fireship Gin and to be joining Warner’s for the launch of their new 0% Botanic Spirits, so you can expect to hear more about those soon.
Catching Up and Looking Forward
With London Cocktail Week extended to the whole month of October there’s never been a better time to support independent hospitality businesses. This month will also see Imbibe Live joining forces with BCB Berlin, BCB Brooklyn and BCB São Paulo to bring us Global Bar Week from 12th to 18th October, the Virtual Craft Distilling Expo 2020 taking place live on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th October (but with access open from Monday 12th to Friday 23rd October) in addition to International Gin and Tonic Day on Monday 19th October and International Scottish Gin Day on Saturday 24th October. See you on the other side!🍸🛎🛎