Gin has rapidly grown in popularity in the last few years. We asked Nicholas Cook, director general of The Gin Guild to share his industry expertise about why this has happened
The gin craze is most definitely in full swing and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. The interest from consumers, the licenced trade and media all seem to reflect the rediscovery of the versatility and sophistication of this adaptable spirit. What are the options and how do we find out what is on offer?
We spoke to Nicholas Cook, the director General of the Gin Guild, the member-funded industry body set up by London’s Worshipful Company of Distillers. He said “There has been an explosion in gin brands, both in the UK and beyond. The Gin Guild brings together gin distillers and industry leaders involved in the production, promotion, distribution and consumption of gin. It plays a key role in both consumer and trade education. It is an important go-to gin information source for both trade and non-trade press.
“Guild members represent not only the big four distillers Bacardi, Chivas Brothers Diageo, William Grant & Sons, but also brands from Adnams to Warner Edwards, and has members from: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Norway, The Czech Republic, Spain, Sweden and USA.
“With interest in gin well underway it is now consumers who are fuelling the boom. They are often surprisingly well-informed and curious, seeking out something new, exciting, or a gin whose production methodology, botanicals or back-story makes them want to find out more. Whilst craft brands are remarkably buoyant both in the on-and off-trade, the mainstream brands have also worked hard to build interest and as a result, due to the combined buzz and category interest, there was over a billion pounds of UK gin sales last year.
“Readers will wonder, when presented with what is often a growing range of gin in stores and quality bars, just what to try. No quick answers here as individual palates vary. It is a case of try (in a bar) before you buy (a bottle). There are the big four (with their variants), Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Hendrick’s, Plymouth and Tanqueray. The super premium Beefeater 24, Start of Bombay and Tanqueray No.Ten, leading on to an almost limitless range of other gins to try. Too many gins to list here (but see member gins listed on the Guild website at www.theginguild.com).
“Gins include the traditional juniper led (including the very juniper Sipsmith VJOP), through to contemporary citrus style (such as Tanqueray No. 10 and those with less common botanicals such as Honeysuckle (Bloom), Red Kale (Thomas Dakin), Hibiscus (Adnams), lavender (Cotswold’s), spiced (Ophir), sweeter old style ‘Old Tom’ gins (Hayman’s or Jensen’s), Scottish botanicals (Caorunn), rhubarb, or honey (from the Warner Edwards range), and even seaweed (one of the Edinburgh Gin range), or even a gin made from grape based spirit (G’Vine) as opposed to the usual grain base.
“So many gins. So little time.”
“A key element in the gin revival has however, without doubt been the advent of quality premium tonics, which enable the individual flavours of gin to shine through. Key to gin enjoyment is the quality of ‘the serve’, i.e. how the gin is served. Avoid tepid G and Ts, with warm, over flavoured tonic and a microscopic lemon slice and minimal ice.
“If your local (or indeed your host!) cannot serve a gin properly, or will not respond to instruction, the beverage is not being served with pride and will be disappointing. Gin is best served in a big glass, preferably out of the freezer, as can be the gin itself (it does not freeze), lots of ice (and then YET more ice), a quality tonic that allows you to taste the gin. Then be generous with fresh garnish. Garnish does not just mean lemon/lime, as different gins recommend different garnishes, orange, cucumber, lime, grapefruit, pomelo, grapes and even liquorice being options for some. Then customers can sit back and enjoy, and then recommend to everyone they know.”
For more information visit www.theginguild.com