January Gin Monthly

January is long isn’t it? And I haven’t even been trying to do Dry January. If you have, congratulations, and you might want to break your fast before you read what I’ve been up to this month!

Booze News

As you probably know by now, I’ve been writing a lot about sustainability over the last 18 months or so, so the story which really caught my eye this month was the announcement that Waitrose is replacing all their miniature wine bottles with aluminium cans. The bold move is expected to save an impressive 320 tonnes of packaging, so let’s hope other supermarkets follow suit.

New Gin Alerts

Papillon’s new Double Damson Gin features both distilled and infused locally-foraged fruit and sounds absolutely delicious. Also released this month are two additions to the low-and-no category; Hayman’s London Light – which comes in at just 12.5% ABV but still delivers plenty of flavour – and Sky Wave Zero – an alcohol-free spirit featuring fresh ginger and three types of citrus.

My Month in Gin

January kicked off with a lovely weekend away with friends and a very long walk to the wonderful Gin Trap Inn in North Norfolk where I enjoyed their delicious gin (made by Gyre & Gimble) and also very well earned fish and chips! Definitely one to check out if you’re in the area.

I also had a great time judging the World Gin Awards final with my fellow judges at the Caledonian Club. After whittling down the top performers in each category, a selection of gin producers joined us to select the World’s Best – which will be announced on 23rd February – before we were all treated to a tasting of some of the spirits which were entered.

The absolute highlight of the month, however, was visiting The Oxford Artisan Distillery with Klempka Communications. What they’re doing at the distillery is huge – in the drinks and farming industries alike – even if the actual site was somewhat smaller than I expected. A true grain-to-glass operation, they use locally-grown heritage cereals to create their base spirits. These, say Head of Farming and archaeobotanist John Letts, offer important environmental benefits including minimising the use of pesticides, improving soil quality, maximising genetic diversity within the crop, and enhancing biodiversity within the field. And they also deliver a better, more characterful flavour profile and make truly delicious spirits. Master Distiller Chico Rosa introduced us to a selection of their products and naturally I loved both their Oxford Rye and Physic Gins, but I was also blown away by the rich creamy nature of their vodka and I loved getting to know their whiskies too. With an investment from Diageo in late 2022, this year promises to be a big one for the distillery so be sure to keep a close eye on them. 

Welcome to My Collection

What a lot of lovely treats I’ve received this month! In addition to Hayman’s London Light and Sky Wave Zero, I’ve also been gifted a(nother!) selection of tasty MOTH canned cocktails, Penrhos Dry Gin in their brilliant and super sustainable new aluminium bottle, Cacao Ethique from Ethical Spirits, 57° Skye earth & sea London Dry and Banyuls Cask Finish gins, Jensen’s Bermondsey Dry and Old Tom gins, and Oxford Rye Dry Gin and a sneaky sample of whisky from The Oxford Artisan Distillery. And I also treated myself to a couple of highball glasses and Weez and Merl coasters from Canvas Cocktails’ closing down sale.

Catching Up and Looking Forward

I was super honoured to be asked to write an IWSC market insight report on sustainable spirits packaging so, if you haven’t already, do give it a read. As for February, I’m really looking forward to the Gin Magazine Awards on the 23rd and finding out who won the World Gin Awards, the Icons of Gin and the Gin Hall of Fame 2023. And my top ten gins of 2022 should be ready to share soon too. Until then… 🍸🛎🛎

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