2017 was one hell of a year for gin with figures released today showing Britons bought 51 million bottles of our favourite spirit; an increase of 27% on 2016 figures! Sweeter spirits are proving increasingly popular, with fruit gins dominating sales in 2017 and growth only expected to continue well into 2018. Capitalising on this lucrative market, Aber Falls, North Wales’ first whisky distillery in over 100 years, has launched a range of gin and liqueurs while it waits on its whisky to mature.
That Boutique-y Gin Company celebrated their first birthday in style with canapés and cocktails at Drink, Shop & Do in London’s King Cross earlier this week. It was quite the party and well worth battling through the snow to reach; the cocktail menu alone ran to 12 pages!
Anyone who has even half an eye on the gin industry at the moment will know that small-batch limited edition gins are big news. As are gin subscription services. One Time Gin and Sipsmith’s Sipping Society have lead the way and now Batch Brew, Lancashire’s first gin distillery, are getting in on the act too with their monthly Batch Innovations subscription service.
Launched in 2010, before the current gin craze took hold of the country, Fifty Pounds is said to be made to a centuries-old recipe dating back to the times of the first gin craze. The original recipe became known, ironically, as Fifty Pounds Gin in reference to the Gin Act of 1736 which imposed an annual levy of £50 on anyone wishing to produce and sell gin. The cost should have crippled producers but only two license applications were ever received and the gin craze, and the attempt to curb it, continued unabated for many more years!
In 2010, John Savage-Onstwedder became one of the first UK recipients of a 350-litre still license, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the Dà Mhìle organic farmhouse distillery was opened in Ceredigion, Mid Wales. Having endured months, if not years, of building works and bureaucracy, success came to the distillery quickly as their first product, the organic Orange 33 liqueur, won a True Taste Award for its very first test batch!
A brief glance at Mary Rose Gin, from HMS Spirits, conveys a sense of voyage and expedition. But it goes beyond the compass emblazoned on the back of the bottle, the sailing ships and the instruction to “Chart Your Own Course”. HMS Spirits began with one chap from the South Coast, Ben Maguire, who had a passion for travelling and also a love of gin (born of a desire to lose weight without compromising his social life!). Having been enticed by the art of distilling, Ben bought a 35 litre copper still on a trip to Hungary (as you do!) but it took four years of experimentation in his garage before he settled upon a recipe he felt would “respect the art of the London Dry whilst adding a new modern twist”. There was then a further year of researching bottles, labels and stoppers and building a brand that reflected his love of the sea, travel and enterprise.
Looking for some inspiration for Christmas gifts for the gin-lover in your life? Or just for your own wish list? If it’s simply spirits you’re after then check out my gin reviews and subscription guides. Or even last year’s festive favourites. But if you’re looking for something a little different then look no further, here’s my pick of the best books, prettiest jewellery and a few other gorgeous gifts for the gin-obsessed!
Charity gifts have been gaining in popularity since Oxfam’s first goat herds went up for grabs. Alongside this, we’ve seen an increase in brands that do good, and gin is no exception. There’s Ginerosity, the profits from which go towards helping young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds; One Gin, which funds water projects in the world’s poorest communities; and Graveney Gin, which gives 10% of its profits to conservation charity Gearing Up For Gorillas. But what if you’re looking for a gift that’s a little more generous or rather more tangible? Well, The National Trust for Scotland, the country’s largest conservation charity, have just launched the Love Gin Hamper and it could be just the thing you’re looking for for the gin-lover in your life.
When I first came across Turncoat Gin, and met its founder – Terry Langton – at the small and intimate Catford Gin Festival earlier this year, I was intrigued. At first its seemingly simple bottle didn’t particularly leap out at me, but it did grab the attention of my somewhat geeky husband. And the more I chatted to Terry, learnt about, and tasted, Turncoat Gin, the more it grabbed me too. From the backstory, to the brand, to the bottle, this gin is different.