Provenance is undoubtedly popular these days – after all who doesn’t like the feelgood factor of buying something local? – but, like anything that matters, it’s not easy to get right. There’s confusion about names (my friend up north is forever confusing Slingsby and Harrogate gins); there’s the all-important matter of honesty and authenticity (it recently transpired Snowdonia Gin is actually made over the border in Warrington); and then, to really mean something, provenance needs to go beyond the name to the product itself. It’s not just what the gin is called and where it’s made that matters, but also what it’s made of and why. Provenance is about stories and people, botanicals and landscapes. And to do provenance properly it all needs to connect with that community.
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.
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.
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.
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!
When so many new gins are launching every month in the UK and further afield, how do we bloggers and enthusiasts keep up? I like to keep a close eye on Instagram and Twitter where I share my finds with a #newginalert, while gin festivals are also a great way to not only hear about new releases but taste them too. I can still walk into a bar or pub and spot a gin that I’ve yet to try, but it’s pretty rare that I’ll never even have heard of it before. But that was how I first came across Inshriach Gin, and that was just the beginning of this serendipitous story.
Recent years have seen the craft gin market grow exponentially. And the truth is that while some new gins are exceptional, many are not. And while many new gins embrace an ever expanding list of increasingly unusual botanicals, some work and some don’t. Some gins taste distinctive but many don’t. That doesn’t necessarily make them a bad gin of course, but without seeing the bottle some gins are just not that easy to identify, particularly when mixed with tonic water. It was this that Dale and Vicky McQueen wanted to address when they launched McQueen Gin. From the very beginning they were determined to create something different and distinctive. McQueen Gin was never going to conform.