There’s no denying that January in lockdown was pretty grim but we made it, so give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back. And, if you endured dry January too, give yourself a round of applause and a stiff drink! I had good intentions of having a drier January this year but, between home schooling and judging the World Gin Awards Final, that was pretty short-lived indeed.
Amid the predictably depressing end-of-year news – with plummeting on-trade sales only partially mitigated by an increase in off-trade sales and almost 6,000 licensed venues in Britain forced to permanently close in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic – came positive news for the country’s hard seltzer pioneers such as 58 Gin and Chase. The report, published in The Drty Hard Seltzer Handbook, predicted that the value of the hard seltzer category (currently £10.4m in the UK) will be worth £75 million by 2023!
Meanwhile, as many tried to cut back alcohol consumption this month, The Gin Guild took a, possibly overdue, public stance against the misleading marketing of no- and low-alcohol drinks which use the term ‘gin’ as a descriptor.
“The gin industry is concerned with brands of non-gin products, which are deliberately misrepresenting, or describing by reference, their non-alcoholic or low-alcoholic products as ‘gin’. There is nothing wrong with making or selling non-gin products, but the gin industry cannot permit brands freeloading on the success of the category. They must market themselves honestly and ensure they do not deliberately or inadvertently mislead consumers.”Nicholas Cook, director general of The Gin Guild
New Gin Alerts
It’s been a big month for Beefeater, who have released not only new sustainable packaging for their entire range (excluding Beefeater 24) but also a new lower-alcohol spirit drink. The stunning new bottles are inspired by the shape of London bricks and are made entirely from recyclable glass with an embossed, aluminium cap replacing the plastic one and the label now made from paper rather than PVC.
Made with the same nine botanicals that go into their original London Dry Gin, but coming in at just 20% ABV, Beefeater Light is said to offer the full Beefeater taste with half the alcohol. Launching exclusively in Spain – Beefeater’s number one market worldwide and one of Europe’s biggest markets for no- and low-alcohol drinks – it will be fascinating to see how this is received, but it could be some time before we get to judge it for ourselves.
My Month in Gin
Without a doubt, the highlight of my month was judging the World Gin Awards 2021 Finals. A world away from last year’s wonderful event at Glaziers Hall, this year saw me and nine other judges (including Paul Feig of Bridesmaids fame!) privately reassess the 111 country winners before meeting (by the power of Zoom) to select the World’s Best Gin in each category. Some categories were easier than others but it was all a learning experience, discussing not only the qualities of individual gins but also what is typical of each category and the direction in which the industry is heading. Winners will be announced online on 25th February and I’m looking forward to finding out who grabbed the top spots just as much as the rest of you!
Welcome to My Collection
This month I’ve welcomed Jaisalmer Indian Gin (which makes an outstanding negroni) to my collection, courtesy of MPR Communications, and also Changing Seasons Gin (the extraordinary collaboration between Four Pillars and The Kyoto Distillery) which was a gift to me from me! I also can’t wait to try Spiritland’s Tangerine Dream bottled cocktails made with Pink Pepper Gin and kindly gifted to me by Pink Pepper’s Pip!
Catching Up and Looking Forward
If you haven’t already read my Top Ten Gins of 2020 I urge you to take a look now as there are some seriously impressive gins in there to discover. And, if you didn’t manage to pick up the latest issue of the Gin Magazine, you can now find my article about the gin producers distilling common juniper’s little-known cousins on gin-mag.com. And finally, if you’re still in need of a bit of lockdown fun, here’s another edition of Never Have I Ever to keep you entertained! 🍸🛎🛎