2016 has earned itself a pretty damning reputation and, largely, with good reason. But, politics and celebrity deaths aside, it hasn’t been all bad. And for gin it’s been pretty bloody good! Approximately 50 new distilleries opened last year, contributing to a total production of 528 million litres of gin and resulting in sales of over £1billion for the first time. The rise and rise of small-batch craft gin was the theme of the year, but the big story came right at the end, when the founders of the craft gin renaissance, Sipsmith, were sold to Beam Suntory, the world’s third-largest spirits company (and owner of Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Teacher’s and Courvoisier), for a reported £50million. Other significant deals included the sale of Spencerfield Spirit Company, producers of Edinburgh Gin, to Ian Macleod Distillers, and Liverpool Gin to Halewood International, the makers of Lambrini.
One of the most anticipated openings this year has been that of The Distillery on Portobello Road, London, home to the gin of the very same name. I was blown away to receive an invitation to the opening night, and not just any invitation but a stunning box with ‘The Distillery’ emblazoned on top, containing a gilt invitation and empty bottle of Characterful Vodka to be filled up on-site on the night! And first impressions definitely lived up to expectation. The Distillery is located at the Ladbroke Grove end of Portobello Road, in an imposing building, proudly bearing the logo of Portobello Road Gin, and it promises an exceptional experience.