2019 was yet another remarkable year for gin, which is predicted to overtake vodka as the UK’s biggest-selling spirit a mere ten years since Sipsmith, the instigators of the craft gin revolution, were granted the licence that opened the floodgates. And, with flavoured gin seeing 300% growth year on year (compared to gin’s modest 11%) – and WSTA playing catch-up with a new category definition – those floodgates are well and truly open. But amongst all that there was also innovation (in the ready-to-drink and low-alcohol markets), environmentalism (with Greensand Ridge leading from the front), fun to be had (who can forget #GinADayMay?!) and some really, really cracking gins. So, after much consideration, here are my favourites:Continue reading
Inspired by the Picts – a tribe believed to be some of the first settlers in the Scottish Highlands Greenwood Distillers call home – as depicted by Theodore de Bry, a 16th century engraver and publisher. Produced by two master distillers – one British and one French. Influenced by the art of perfumery and combining old and new production techniques. With liquid (currently) produced in London and Cognac but blended and bottled in Scotland. The story behind Theodore Pictish Gin is every bit as complex as the spirit itself.Continue reading
“Bold” is the operative word where Turncoat Gin is concerned. Terry Langton, their founder and head distiller, refuses to cut corners in pursuit of each new recipe (he blames his years working in beer!), and each finished product is always striking in its originality. I was blown away by their Cascade Gin when I first met Terry at Catford Gin Festival in 2017 and when I saw him again at the same festival (albeit in a rather grander venue) last year, Terry returned with not one, not two, but three new gins; the citrusy Our Man in Sicily; the delicate and floral Dragon Tears (featuring the top buds of the jasmine tea plant); and my personal favourite, the spicy Bold St. Chai.Continue reading
When I was planning my trip to Junipalooza last year, Koval wasn’t particularly high on my list. But I got drawn to that beautiful laser-cut label and then couldn’t resist a sample either. And as I tasted both their Dry and Barrelled Gin, and learnt more about Koval, I got more and more drawn in, for theirs is a pretty impressive story.Continue reading
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.
Launched at Junipalooza 2018, Jekka’s Edition is 6 O’Clock Gin‘s latest addition to their range, joining their eponymous London Dry, Sloe Gin, Damson Gin and last year’s Brunel Edition. As suggested by the beautiful transparent bottle, this is the lightest and most delicate offering from 6 O’Clock but, far from being a departure, this gin remains true to their roots.
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.