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Gin Spin – A news roundup from the past few weeks. May 1st

Anti Ageing
Anti Ageing
Black Button Distilling Lilac Gin
Paul Hletko Few Spirits
01/05/2016
Written by Olivier Ward

In a similar vein to how the story about a British cabinet minister “unknowingly” entering into a relationship with an S&M worker was not a story a few months ago, but how the story of it not being a story is a story now (still with us? Great…) – we’d like to present a story about a story as the top Gin headline of the past few weeks.

Anti-aGin*

*Not proven to help with anti ageing. Not proven, in fact, to be anything but a PR stunt and a masterclass about how to wordsmith around facts from Warner Leisure Hotels.

The gin carefully navigates its way around what benefits and what doesn’t, pulls in a few media darlings who accepted money in exchange of a temporary loss in credibility – and hey presto, the news goes global.

The gin isn’t interesting to talk about other than to provide context as to what is… I.E. why is it acceptable for someone to make a vacuous product to sell a venue, with at best tenuous claims – and for publications who almost never choose to feature new gin launches to plaster it everywhere as if it were in anyway representative of the category.

It’s not. Shame on you Warner Leisure Hotelswe can only hope that your customers see it as the transparent stunt that it is and makes them wonder just what other bent truths you’re peddling at your venues.

I know it sounds like we’ve had a sense of humour bypass, but… we’re understandably protective of the category. That a gin like this would get such coverage is truly disheartening as it detracts from the wider picture – one of some really exciting, young, talented makers giving it their all to create multifaceted and nuanced products, that combine genuine whimsy and a sense of adventure with a deep rooted respect for gin.

There’s undeniably much need to add levity to spirits and the way they are presented. However, this is already happening, without all the false pretense. Many make great gins with pun-tastic names, amusing ideas and a sense of playfulness. If only, that infamous British cynicism would prevail when the chance of a click bait headline emerges…

The only real sliver of hope here, is that while it’s been around the web, no official drinks journo has touched the story. They’ve all pointed out the ugly truth – yes this is indeed a low moment for the category – and laughed at how broken the interdependent relationship between PR’s and Hacks can become when both are asked to turn over news constantly – and that’s it. Ironically, I’ve broken that chain to write about the gin, but feel it’s important to do so as it just shouldn’t stand. Each time you purchase a gin, it is a vote of endorsement not just for the flavour profile of the spirit, but for everything it stands for. Please, don’t perpetuate this clear attempt to hoodwink consumers and make money off the back of genuine producers who have fought to transform Gin into the category it is today. Place it in the bin, next to Unicorn Tears Gin (which is, if you hadn’t heard, *sighs*, also an actual thing).

Black Button Distilling

In other much more positive news, we welcome the return of Lilac Gin, which was first introduced in May last year, with Black Button Distilling selling all 600 bottles in 10 days. The Rochester, New York based distillery has decided to create a run of this expression each year, to mark the start of spring and pay tribute to the city.

The reason we love this piece of news is not just because it’s an ever-welcome tale of a craft distillery doing well, but because it is an example of local botanicals being used to great effect, producing quality spirits with provenance as important to the product as it is to the story.

Paul Hlekto takes over as President of ACSA

FEW Spirits founder Paul Hlekto has taken the helm at the American Craft Spirits Association, taking over from Thomas Mooney. We wish him the best and hope that his zeal for helping smaller artisan distilleries continues the progress already established over the past few years.

For those who don’t know – the ACSA is a registered non-profit trade group representing the U.S. craft spirits industry, working to elevate and advocate for the community. With so much work to do (in a craft sector that some reports have estimated totals over 1,200 distilleries across the country), he’ll certainly have his work cut out!

One of the areas that we expect to see Paul continue to work on in particular, is freeing up legislation for smaller producers, to ensure continued growth in the US market for craft gin – which has enjoyed its biggest year on record in 2015. While this statistic is difficult to cheer too loudly, given Gin as a category contracted in the US over the last year by 1.8% by Volume and 0.9% by Value, it does show that the work of bodies such as the ACSA and other individuals will at least, help the craft end of the category stay buoyant.

Newspaper being printed