I can’t claim a second lockdown birthday was top of my wish list, but luckily there have been other highs this month. And with British Summer Time here, social restrictions slowly easing and the (partial) reopening of hospitality just a couple of weeks away, things are starting to look up.
There’s little escaping what a challenging year it has been though, with Covid-19 and Brexit creating a near-perfect storm for British drinks producers. Indeed, HMRC figures cited by The Gin Guild show UK gin exports dropped by £100 million in 2020 to £572 million, with a 25% drop in exports to the EU a key factor.
This month’s good news story comes from Bombay Sapphire who, on a mission to be the world’s most sustainable gin (and as part of parent company Bacardi’s commitment to sourcing 100% of its key ingredients from sustainably certified suppliers by 2025) have announced that eight of their botanicals are now certified sustainably-sourced with the final two producers – for grains of paradise from Ghana and liquorice from China – to be certified by the end of the year.
March also saw the launch of OOFT! – a brilliant website that brings together everything that’s going on in the drinks industry from events (both live and virtual) to home drinking experiences (such as subscription services and cocktail deliveries) as well as curated cocktail recipes, gift ideas and articles on all things drinks-related. A site that already features lots of fun video content, and will continue to grow and evolve, it’s well worth checking out whether you’re selling, buying or just looking for inspiration.
New Gin Alerts
March has seen more flavoured gin releases including Lone Wolf’s Peach & Passion Fruit Gin, Elephant Gin’s Orange Cocoa Gin and Sipsmith’s Strawberry Smash Gin, ingeniously created with the surplus strawberries from 2020’s Wimbledon that never was. And, not to be outdone, Masons of Yorkshire have released not one but two gins; Pink Grapefruit & Cucumber and Distiller’s Strength which is based on the Masons Original recipe, but with an increased botanical blend and distilled to a higher strength of 53% ABV.
My Month in Gin
There’s been a good balance of work and play this month. On the work front, I’ve been honoured to judge The Gin Guide Awards once again (the finalists of which will be announced on Monday 12th April) and also to join the International Drinks Specialists (who offer producers and brand owners sensory feedback, technical advice, brand analysis and consultancy on competition entries) as an Associate Specialist.
On top of the birthday celebrations, I also enjoyed some tasty Mothers’ Day drinks and chocolate courtesy of Point Cocktails, travelled with Hendrick’s Air to a virtual tasting of their lovely Lunar Gin and celebrated the Hindu festival Holi with some wonderfully colourful cocktails courtesy of Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin.
Welcome to My Collection
Huge thanks to Master of Malt (affiliate link) for my Mothers’ Day delivery of Lind & Lime Gin and Chapel Down Bacchus Gin, and also to The Gower Gin Company who generously sent me refill eco pouches of their Gŵyr Original and Rhosili Gins to celebrate my birthday. Thanks also to G.H.Q Spirits for a bottle of their London Dry Gin, Puddingstone Distillery for a sample of Campfire Old Tom Gin, Sipsmith for their beautifully presented Strawberry Smash Gin and Cornwall’s Elemental for their bottle of Classic Gin.
And it’s not just gin! I’ve also been delighted to receive Colonsay’s new Vodka created using using peated barley which lends the spirit a smoked nature I suspect will work well in a Bloody Mary. And, thanks to Maverick Drinks, I also learnt all about Azaline Vermouth, which features Persian saffron as its key botanical, with founder Steve Drawbell.
On top of opening all that, I’m looking forward to trying my Audemus Umami minis, growing my own Hendrick’s cucumber in support of the The Drinks Trust and getting to know Strawbar eau de vie at a virtual tasting soon.
Catching Up and Looking Forward
If you’ve not already seen them, why not take a look at this year’s #GinADayMay prompts and get planning? I know I need to! 🍸🛎🛎