Now that New Year celebrations are well and truly over, we’re piecing together the clues left over from 2017 to make some educated guesses as to what we can expect from the coming year. While Gin’s continued growth within the UK is cause enough to raise a French 75 or two (47m bottles were sold last year, pushing sales within the Gin category up over 15%), we’re looking a little further afield for some incoming trends. Without further ado, here are Gin’s most exciting emerging markets.
We’re especially excited to see that South America has finally woken up to Gin, with the spirit set for a carnival of new entries in the coming year, each with a unique interpretation of how to feature native botanicals prominently without losing that juniper emphasis. With the Amazon as their muse, we’ve already seen some unusual ingredients making the cut… Guarana, sacha inchi and tonka don’t even raise an eyebrow out there!
Brazil in particular has set the stage for a big 2018. With Cachaça sales showing absolutely no signs of slowing (and seemingly produced almost entirely for domestic consumption), it’s clear that there is room for interesting white spirits to flourish in the region. There are even a couple of distilleries making high quality gins already trailblazing their way through the country, and we’ve had news of a few others set to enter the fray in the coming months.
Elsewhere in South America, the shift from Gin consumer to Gin producer has also begun apace, with Venezuela, Peru and Argentina all launching Gin-specific distilleries and exciting brands in 2017. Don’t expect to see them rival the big Pisco names anytime soon, but a burgeoning gin scene begins with strong grassroots enthusiasm from bars and drinkers, as well as early adopters leading the way with their local products – all of which is evident to observe across the continent.
It is too soon to predict whether there will be a “South American” style to emerge from the region, certainly, evidence for such a grouping is yet to be seen. That said, other than a bold use of tropical botanicals, if there is to be an overarching rule of thumb for what to expect, from what we’re seeing and tasted so far – we suspect it will be the prominence of base spirit that seems to be permeating through the early releases so far. Be it from the grapes of Pisco-makers-come-ginsmiths, or sugar cane from the Cachaça makers, we’re predicting a rapprochement to the US market and their way of going grain to glass and letting that agricultural origin be more evident, as opposed to taking on the more European “neutral” approach.
We’re also casting our eyes East, towards Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan as we constantly receive news of a scene that’s rapidly growing in stature and influence. Japan in particular has gone into overdrive with its Gin production and there has been feverish chatter from brands looking to export into the country. The mixer market and tonic producers are also bubbling with excitement about the country’s potential too.
With Suntory’s Sipsmith buyout in 2016, Ki No Bi’s hugely successful launch and Roku Gin grabbing the headlines, it seems that Gin in Japan is on an unstoppable trajectory, one which is being further propelled by its world famous, highly respected and well established craft cocktail scene.
The real question for Japanese makers will be whether they can capitalise on the global pro-Japanese culture trend that has gone mainstream in US and UK foodie circles right now – they’ll certainly have to move hastily before fatigue and saturation begin to creep in towards the tail end of the year. There’s still time, though, and for the land of the rising sun it certainly seems that this year will bring with it a new dawn of Gin producers and drinkers alike.
Copyright © Gin Foundry