A look at the brands and Bri­tish crafts­man­ship be­hind our new ‘gin’er­a­tion!

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NO LONGER THE DO­MAIN of ‘mother's ruin', or an ex­cuse for a cheap, sharp tip­ple to wash away the chal­lenges of the day, gin is fast be­com­ing the classy spirit du jour. Gin sales have surged by 12 per cent over the past year, ac­cord­ing to the Wine and Spirit Trade As­so­ci­a­tion, and a to­tal of 43 mil­lion bot­tles were sold across the coun­try last year, re­ported The Daily Tele­graph in June. Per­haps what has kept gin rel­e­vant is the en­dur­ing ap­peal of the sim­ple, time­less gin and tonic. Con­stantly up­dated with new mix­ers – Fever Tree is a big name in the G&T world, with nu­mer­ous pubs, bars and restau­rants us­ing it as a key sell­ing point for their drinks – and now served with ev­ery­thing from a twist of grape­fruit to a slice of cu­cum­ber or a bay leaf, gin n and ton­ics are no longer the run of the mill, warm so­das served in sim­ple slim jims any­more. Drinkers can choose from a ‘gin menu', of­ten lo­callysourced, with tast­ing notes and serv­ing sug­ges­tions. This has opened the door to a unique se­lec­tion of gin dis­tillers who all de­scribe the flavours of their tip­ple in mouth-wa­ter­ingly de­tailed ways.


In­ter­est­ingly, this ar­ti­san ap­proach has made rip­ples through­out the in­dus­try, and the top of the mar­ket, big names are see­ing just as much of a boom as the newer, trendier brands. Both Beefeater and Ply­mouth Gin have con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate the mar­ket, while much-loved and renowned Hen­dricks has kept its rep­u­ta­tion by in­no­vat­ing. The brain­child of a fifth gen­er­a­tion of fam­ily dis­tillers, Hen­dricks cap­i­talised on the be­gin­nings of the new gin move­ment in 1999 by con­tro­ver­sially us­ing two types of gin dis­til­late to cre­ate one gin, as well as the unique in­fu­sions of rose and cu­cum­ber. This pi­o­neer­ing ap­proach ce­mented its po­si­tion as one of the fore­most gins in Bri­tain, and has en­sured a loyal fol­low­ing ever since. Hail­ing from the tiny sea­side vil­lage of Gir­van, in Ayr­shire, south west Scot­land, it has a re­fresh­ing, sur­pris­ing flavour, en­hanced by be­ing served with cu­cum­ber, which en­hances the flow­ery, fruity over­tones. While at Tan­queray, a gin so well-known you can sim­ply or­der a ‘Tan­queray and tonic', (no fur­ther ex­pla­na­tion needed), gin has been made in the same way since 1830, and to­day this iconic, el­e­gant and re­fined gin, is still pro­duced in small batches us­ing three dif­fer­ent types of whole, fresh citrus fruit with grape­fruit at its heart. Else­where, the past is ref­er­enced some­times sub­tly, some­times with real pur­pose and in­ten­tion. With a solid his­tory be­hind them, hand­crafted for over 250 years, Greenall’s The Orig­i­nal uses the same secret recipe that has been handed down through seven gen­er­a­tions of Mas­ter Dis­tillers. Boast­ing one of the few fe­male gin mas­ters in the world, as well as be­ing a proud part­ner of The

Jockey Club, Greenall's Bri­tish roots are in­trin­si­cally part of its iden­tity. “Our bot­tle de­sign in­cor­po­rates the Union Jack, a homage to the qual­ity and crafts­man­ship that goes in to our gin, as well as the Bri­tish wheat that we use to cre­ate our spirit,” says strat­egy and plan­ning di­rec­tor Lizzy John­son. At the other end of the spec­trum, and cel­e­brat­ing its third birth­day this July, East Lon­don Dry Gin is a per­fect ex­am­ple of a con­tem­po­rary brand with echoes of the long Bri­tish tra­di­tion with gin. Founder Alex Wolpert says: “We're tap­ping into Bri­tain's her­itage as a na­tion of gin lovers, with a con­tem­po­rary twist of hav­ing en­gag­ing flavours in­spired by for­mer Bri­tish trade routes and English herb gar­dens. Be­ing lo­cated in East Lon­don, the his­toric dis­till­ing area of Lon­don, is a fan­tas­tic back­drop to pro­duc­ing such a quintessen­tially Bri­tish drink.”


Of course, his­tory and Bri­tish­ness can be in­ter­preted in many ways, as Valen­tine Warner, founder of con­tem­po­rary brand Hep­ple Gin, cre­ated in 2013, ex­plains. “While I don't as­so­ciate our gin with the Crown Jew­els and cricket, I do feel that Hep­ple is bound up in an­cient Northum­bria, and is a dis­til­la­tion of its wild sur­round­ings,” she ex­plains. “Hep­ple is a cold gin, with a Northerly taste formed from mossy woods, deep heather, weather twisted ju­nipers shiv­er­ing in a cold gale and sur­rounded by wa­ter.” Fel­low award-win­ner Half Hitch, which was launched in 2014, is an­other brand with a strong sense of place. “I am Cam­den born and bred,” says founder Mark Holdsworth, proudly ref­er­enc­ing how the brand's mod­ern iden­tity is en­tirely tied up with its North-west Lon­don past. Hav­ing a back­ground in spir­its, he came across the long-for­got­ten in­dus­trial gin story of Cam­den Lock and started Half Hitch to re­vive this Lon­don legacy, with an in­no­va­tive new style of quintessen­tially Bri­tish gin with key botan­i­cals of black tea and berg­amot. In less than three years it has won nu­mer­ous awards, been se­lected as Walpole Lux­ury So­ci­ety's "Brand of To­mor­row 2016", and is sold across the city from Sel­fridges to Fort­num & Ma­son. Hep­ple and Half Hitch aren't alone in mak­ing their lo­ca­tions a cen­tral part of their iden­tity. One of the new­est gins on the block, cel­e­brat­ing its first birth­day this July, Sal­combe Gin has al­ready made waves, win­ning Gold at the World Gin Awards, as well as sev­eral other pres­ti­gious ti­tles. The niche dis­tillery is one of the only dis­til­leries in the world that can be ac­cessed by boat and is lo­cated right in the heart of Sal­combe – a fact that sits at the very core of the brand iden­tity. “Be­ing a Bri­tish la­bel cre­ates a de­sire to be the best of the best,” says s founder and di­rec­tor An­gus Lugs­din. “Sal­combe is a brand name in its own right…and we have amaz­ing ac­cess to rich re­sources in­clud­ing the per­fect wa­ter for dis­til­la­tion, amaz­ing wheat used for our base spirit and a true un­der­stand­ing of prove­nance.” For some com­pa­nies, the lo­cal area's cre­ative her­itage plays as much of a part as its prove­nance. Cotswold Dry Gin de­vel­oped their gin as a clas­sic, ‘true ex­pres­sion' of old gin styles, while also work­ing to cap­ture the beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings of the dis­tillery in the North Cotswolds coun­try­side, us­ing lo­cal laven­der from the Snow­shill Es­tate, for in­stance, and en­cap­su­lat­ing the long tra­di­tion of crafts­man­ship so in­trin­si­cally tied to the lo­cal area. “We firmly be­lieve in do­ing things prop­erly” ex­plains dis­tiller Zoe Ruther­ford, “No tricks or short­cuts here; there is a grand Bri­tish tra­di­tion of time-honed crafts­man­ship and we see our­selves within that”. Else­where, The Botanist, pro­duced on Is­lay, by Bruich­lad­dich, a pro­gres­sive He­bridean dis­tillery, is a mod­ern gin with a real sense of place, or as it de­scribes it, ‘ter­roir'. “This is cen­tral to ev­ery­thing we do, ev­ery­one at The Botanist is very proud of our roots on Is­lay,” ex­plains head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions Carl Reavey. And at Slingsby, based in Har­ro­gate, prove­nance is also a ma­jor buzz word. “Know­ing our sup­pli­ers and where all our in­gre­di­ents come from is vi­tal,” says Ge­orgina Cow­ley, mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive. The brand has aimed to re­store the ‘Spirit of Har­ro­gate' cap­tur­ing the key el­e­ments of this very pop­u­lar Bri­tish spa town – and en­cap­su­lat­ing the idea of spring wa­ter, lo­cal in­gre­di­ents, Tay­lor's tea, lo­cal farm­ers, gar­den­ers, grow­ers and pick­ers.


Per­haps the big­gest change in the gin re­nais­sance has been seen at the newer end of the in­dus­try, where smaller pro­duc­ers have been in­vent­ing new pro­cesses and adding new in­gre­di­ents to re­ally open up the world of gin. With names such as Opihr, Ma­sons Dry York­shire Gin, Conker Spirit and Shortcross be­com­ing more and more well-known, suc­cess is now about the quirky, unique fac­tor, the dif­fer­ences you can of­fer and the unique twists on how to serve gin. For many brands, di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion is key to their suc­cess and Silent Pool is a per­fect ex­am­ple of this. Es­tab­lished just two years ago, it now sells across 26 coun­tries and will launch this sum­mer in the USA, as well as start­ing to pro­duce its own Silent Pool Gin-cured smoked salmon and a range of in­no­va­tive liq­uid mist gar­nishes. “It's be­come

Our BOTTLEDESIGN in­cor­po­rates the Union Jack, a homage to the QUAL­ITY and crafts­man­ship that goes in to our gin, ASWELLASTHE BRI­TISH wheat that we use to CREATEOURSPIRIT”

ap­par­ent that there is strong de­mand for a prod­uct that cap­tures a sense of Bri­tish­ness,” says found­ing part­ner Ian Mc­cul­loch. “We re­cently won a dou­ble gold at the San Francisco World Spir­its Awards, and are now fo­cus­ing our ex­port busi­ness be­yond Europe.” Back in Lon­don, with a dis­tillery based in the founders' house in High­gate, hus­band and wife team Ian and Hilary at Scared Gin have taken niche to an­other level. Their Car­do­mom Gin, Pink Grape­fruit Gin and Christ­mas Pud­ding Gin are all ex­cel­lent ex­am­ples of the new trend for in­fus­ing gin with unique flavours and de­spite their small pro­duc­tion, Scared Gin is served in bars across the cap­i­tal, in­clud­ing the renowned Dukes Bar in St James, where Ian Flem­ing is pur­ported to have en­joyed mar­ti­nis. A lit­tle fur­ther south, in Not­ting Hill, Por­to­bello Road is an­other dis­tillery whose in­gre­di­ents and flavour are key to its suc­cess. “Our base e spirit is dis­tilled here in Eng­land from English-grown wheat,” says brand di­rec­tor Thomas Coates. “But our nine botan­i­cal in­gre­di­ents come from around the world and in­clude ju­niper berries and or­ris from Tus­cany, Span­ish lemon peels, bit­ter orange peels from Haiti or Morocco, nut­meg from In­done­sia and cas­sia bark from South East Asia.” Bot­tled at a punchy 42 per cent ABV th­ese in­gre­di­ents com­bine to cre­ate a uniquely ver­sa­tile gin, with enough ro­bust gin flavours to en­hance a gin and tonic, and enough el­e­gance to work in a mar­tini. Just as we saw with craft beer, there has clearly been a con­certed move in the gin world to­wards small mi­cro-dis­til­leries, and es­pe­cially those with a clear con­nec­tion to the lo­cal land­scape or area, pro­duc­ing high qual­ity gins in small batches. From Sal­combe to Is­lay, and across Lon­don from Por­to­bello Road to the East End, small dis­til­leries are mak­ing their mark both lo­cally and coun­try-wide.

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