BIG ON GIN

From ded­i­cated gin bars to gin-spe­cific events—and now, made-in-sin­ga­pore gin—drinkers can’t get enough of this clas­sic white spirit

T. Dining by Singapore Tatler - - Sip -

A look at why a love for the clas­sic white spirit is grow­ing among lo­cals

For a long time, gin was sim­ply not cool. It was that non­de­script, workhorse­type of white spirit upon which old­school cock­tails were built. How­ever, the turn of the 21st cen­tury turned the tide of this ju­niper-based spirit’s rep­u­ta­tion. Buoyed by the rise of craft cock­tail cul­ture and the need for pre­mium ar­ti­sanal spir­its, bar­tenders and dis­tillers alike saw the po­ten­tial of the gin’s ver­sa­til­ity. As a white spirit dis­tilled with and de­riv­ing its notes from any amal­ga­ma­tion of botan­i­cals (as well as ju­niper), gin’s flavours and style pos­si­bil­i­ties are in­fi­nite. This has led to the cur­rent gin re­nais­sance of the past decade or so, where a pro­lif­er­a­tion of dis­tillers have sprung up across the UK, Europe, the Amer­i­cas, Aus­tralia and Asia, craft­ing gins us­ing indige­nous botan­i­cals and unique pro­duc­tion styles to proudly re­lay their prove­nance. Bar­tenders are, in turn, us­ing these dis­tinct gins to cre­ate in­no­va­tive cock­tails or bring a mod­ern touch to the clas­sics.

The cre­ative direc­tor at spir­its pur­veyor

Proof & Com­pany and the master of gin at At­las, Ja­son Wil­liams sur­mises that this gin re­nais­sance ex­ploded glob­ally five years ago. In Sin­ga­pore, the in­tro­duc­tion of At­las af­firmed the spirit’s pop­u­lar­ity among lo­cal drinkers; the grand bar is known for its 1,000-plus gin bot­tle col­lec­tion, which Wil­liams took more than a year to amass.

“Sin­ga­pore is very much a big part of the gin re­nais­sance the world is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing right now and it’s the per­fect city for the gin craze to hit,” ob­serves Wil­liams, not­ing the coun­try’s his­tory of gin—largely thanks to the world-fa­mous gin-based Sin­ga­pore Sling cock­tail—and its maturing craft cock­tail scene.

If there’s any in­di­ca­tion Sin­ga­pore has well and truly caught up with the gin-nais­sance, it’s that our is­land can now fi­nally boast not just one, but two made-in-sin­ga­pore craft gins. In only the past five months, we’ve seen the launch of Tan­glin Gin’s Orchid Gin and Brass Lion Dis­tillery’s Sin­ga­pore Dry Gin.

In­tro­duced in June, Tan­glin’s Orchid Gin is, in the words of head dis­tiller Tim White­head, “an old-world mod­ern gin, as we’re com­bin­ing tra­di­tional gin botan­i­cals found in the old­est recipes with new flavours that truly rep­re­sent Sin­ga­pore, such as orchid.”

Four months later, Brass Lion Dis­tillery marked its launch with its Sin­ga­pore Dry

Gin. “We wanted to cre­ate a gin that blends fa­mil­iar Asian herbs and spices—such as the torch gin­ger flower, man­darin peel and chrysan­the­mum—with tra­di­tional gin botan­i­cals such as ju­niper and co­rian­der seed, re­sult­ing in a prod­uct unique to our part of the world,” ex­plains Jamie Koh, founder of Brass Lion Dis­tillery.

She adds that the process of mak­ing qual­ity small-batch Sin­ga­pore Dry Gin en­tails many hands-on steps, from the peel­ing of fruit, to the la­belling.

NO PASS­ING FAD

There’s cer­tainly no lack of av­enues in Sin­ga­pore where gin lovers can seek out pre­mium ar­ti­sanal gins. Apart from At­las, there are a hand­ful of gin-ded­i­cated craft cock­tail bars such as Cin Cin, the party room at Mezza9, The Spiffy Dap­per, Oxwell & Co and The Rab­bit Hole, while many other bars boast ro­bust gin pro­grammes.

Now, thanks to the ar­rival of Gin Jour­ney in Sin­ga­pore, con­sumers can em­bark on an ed­u­ca­tional, guided gin tour around the coun­try’s bars. Founder Leon Dal­loway says that it’s the qual­ity of cock­tail bars here that drew him to choose Sin­ga­pore as the first city out­side of the UK to launch Gin Jour­ney.

Bars here are also do­ing more. The Spiffy Dap­per has just launched its Gin Club, where a monthly fee grants mem­bers ac­cess to a bot­tle (or two) of gin each month, a gin & tonic pair­ing work­shop and var­i­ous mas­ter­classes. Over at At­las, the year-old Ju­niper So­ci­ety al­ready boasts about 320 mem­bers. The so­ci­ety or­gan­ises at least two events each month, which in­clude vis­its by renowned gin dis­tillers, spe­cial gin din­ners and the reg­u­lar Ju­niper Tues­day—a gin tast­ing ses­sion and so­cial hour held ev­ery first Tues­day of the month.

To cater to this ris­ing con­sumer de­mand for craft gins, many spir­its dis­trib­u­tors are seek­ing out and im­port­ing unique gins from all over the world. Some, such as

Gain Brands Di­rect, fo­cus solely on gins. Co-founder Michelle Fisher notes, “We started rep­re­sent­ing a cou­ple of Scot­tish and UK dis­til­leries, and now, nearly four years on, we have ac­quired more than 30 global brands from var­i­ous coun­tries such as Ja­pan, Spain and France.”

De­spite this con­tin­ued pro­lif­er­a­tion of craft gins on the mar­ket, Wil­liams doesn’t be­lieve that we’ve reached the peak of this re­vival yet. He says that as long as dis­tillers keep pro­duc­ing new qual­ity gins that come with a gen­uine point of dif­fer­ence, they pro­vide choices that will sus­tain what Koh de­scribes as the “con­sumer-led de­mand for more au­then­tic, more dis­tinc­tive, more lo­cal, less pro­cessed and more in­ter­est­ing spir­its brands”.

“Sin­ga­pore is very much a big part of the gin re­nais­sance the world is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing right now and it’s the per­fect city for the gin craze to hit.”

GIN TAN­GLIN JOUR­NEY, GIN DIS­TILLERY, LION BRASS IM­AGES: HUANG JOYCE WORDS:

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