In my last review I asked ‘what’s in a name?’. But in this day and age of social media, visual identity matters too. So today I’m taking a closer look at labels; specifically the stunning label wrapped around the squat, square bottle of Hidden Curiosities Gin. I love the striking circus font with hints of Victoriana and the eye-catching copper foiling detail. It’s a handsome affair which, I think, will attract consumers whether online, in a shop or behind a bar. Better still, turn the bottle around and you are greeted with the very definition of a hidden curiosity; the eccentric wolf and dodo woodland scene after which the gin was named (and the design of which originated from the other business – the Cravat Club – that the gin’s founder runs). For me this aesthetically appealing bottle displays real passion and would make a great gift.
What’s in a name, asked Shakespeare? Well, rather a lot actually in this day and age of the booming gin industry, brand awareness and trademark tussles. As Tiger Gin found out when Heineken Asia Pacific PTE challenged their trademark application, claiming it was too similar to that of Tiger Beer. But, against the odds, they won. And since then, David has turned Goliath and, despite the recognition on their website that “Everyone hates a bully”, they recently took the tiny Capreolus Distillery, and their Garden Tiger Gin, to court over a trademark violation. And, as you may have guessed given the title of this piece, they won again.
Gin is booming, without a doubt, but we’re also starting to see something of a backlash. A backlash against gin-and-tonic everything (see #StopFuckingWithGin), a backlash against flavoured gin (see Hayman’s Call Time on Fake Gin campaign) and a backlash against both a lack of transparency and the misuse of terminology such as “artisan” and “handcrafted”. There are certainly people out there making small scale craft gin by hand, but they have to compete against the big brands – brands with money and trademarks, many of which are not even making their own gin – just to get noticed. I believe that now, more than ever, these small businesses and micro-distilleries deserve a bigger platform and greater promotion, to which I hope to contribute. One such producer is Deerness Distillery.
I never dreamt of becoming a blogger. I didn’t really know what it meant to be a blogger and I certainly never read any blogs. It all started in the summer of 2014 when I won two tickets to Gin Journey’s London Gin Experience. The following year I won 10 bottles of premium gin from 31 Dover and in 2016 two tickets to Junipalooza. Having dabbled in writing about my neck of the woods, I finally decided to take the plunge and write about gin.
There’s nothing quite like a G&T at the end of a long day, but do you have a favourite place to enjoy yours? For me, it’s in my hammock in the back of my little London garden. But for travel-loving couple Ben and Kate Marston, it’s all about being in the great outdoors, ideally under the stars and beside a glowing campfire. It was this shared love of outdoor pursuits, adventure and gin, alongside experience in tourism and design, that inspired Ben and Kate to create their perfect Campfire Gin and, in so doing, establish Hertfordshire’s first distillery in 2014.
Since I visited in late 2016, Bimber have opened the doors of their relatively small North Acton distillery to the public, allowing everyone to get to know this forward-thinking company that, nonetheless, still respects its past. In homage to its Polish heritage, Bimber produce a wide range of vodkas, including a number of fruit-infused versions. However, these are a cut above the homely Polish home-brew from which Bimber gets its name, as their host of awards – including several medals from this year’s inaugural Bartender’s Brand Awards – testify.
From Aber Falls Marmalade Gin to Malfy Con Arancia (featuring blood orange peel) and Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla (made with Seville oranges and orange blossom), citrus is undoubtedly where it’s at at the moment. And One Time Gin’s April subscription box is no exception. I was lucky enough to receive the “dinky” package, including a 350ml bottle of Marmalade Gin alongside a bottle each of Luscombe’s Devon Tonic Water and Grapefruit Water and a bottle of OTG’s “Curaçao-esque” orange and ginger liqueur. And I was not disappointed. Not one bit.
1st April 2018: April Fool’s Day, Easter Sunday and the 100th Anniversary of the RAF; the oldest independent air force in the world and defender of the skies. As part of the celebrations – which will culminate on 10th July with a centenary service in Westminster Abbey, a parade in The Mall and spectacular flypast over Buckingham Palace – Spitfire Heritage Gin have partnered with The Royal Air Forces Association in producing stunning liveried bottles. A percentage of the profits from the sale of the bespoke bottles will also be donated to the RAF Association; a registered charity that provides welfare support to RAF personnel and their immediate families.
Judging gin, as I’ve said before, is a curious thing. And much harder than you might imagine. But what I find particularly peculiar is that, because gin is judged blind, you wind up not knowing which you’ve tried or what you thought of them! And so it was, I found myself hosting a table at the final of the 2018 World Gin Awards and meeting Jane Cannon from Newton House Gin, knowing I’d probably tried her product but, at the same time, knowing nothing about it! Nothing except that it had just been awarded a Gold Medal in the UK London Dry Gin category.