Gin Spin June 2019
With last month hosting World Gin Day, a lot – no, a barrage – of Gin news was on the agenda. As news sites pushed for an angle, the regular bog we had to wade through turned into a quagmire. We’ve salvaged what we can from the carnage, as always taking our slow news approach to share the news behind the headlines.
Money money money
While some might be waving a white flag and pondering the end of Gin, there are still many who are continuing to pump money into this cash cow. Look closer at the investments however and you’ll see that there’s a lot of sense prevailing, with some shrewd manoeuvres and big money going into brands that on closer inspection have far more than juniper stringed to their bow.
In the UK, the Lakes Distillery secured £3.75m of investment led by Gresham House Asset Management, a specialist equity investment and asset management company. The money is in place to support business growth as the brand try to make their name a global one but it’s also an investment into the distillery infrastructure itself and to continue the momentum it has garnered as a stellar destination for tourism. It may well seem like an investment in gin given the brand’s current flagship product, but one with both eyes scoping the long term future too.
Winchester Distillery also saw a cash injection this month, with its successful crowdfunding campaign soaring to £500k, £100k over target. This will allow the firm to increase their production and install a brewhouse. A pretty incredible result given how uncertain things are in the UK economy at the moment but look carefully once again and you’ll see that gin, or even their own brand of gin is just a part of the wider picture with options on other spirits and contract distilling seeming like a firm part of their current and future output…
Further afield, Brown Forman’s acquisition of Fords Gin is still sending ripples of gossip and interest in the trade. The move showed that Ford’s US potential – where the brand is based but also shows clear signs of growth – is worth taking a punt on. While we read the move as yet another sign of the reawakening US market, it also goes to show that there was, unfortunately, more than a whisper of truth to the rumours around the slightly tense state of affairs (portfolio and personnel) at 86 Co, given that in the process all of the other company’s spirits were, in essence, culled.
Some of the biggest news rolling out from all angles (it was everywhere – the article got syndicated, it seems, and we couldn’t open our laptops for a second without seeing it) was the revelation that many Pink Gins and Gin liqueurs are laden with sugar. Sorry we didn’t invite you to sit down before that big old shocker… GIN LIQUEURS CONTAIN SUGAR?????!!!!
Our deep and never ending cynicism of anything that paper publishes – in fairness to The Daily Mail, they had something of a point. Allow us to shudder for a second for acknowledging that rag as having provided valid journalism – we quite sure it won’t happen again.
Most drinkers don’t question the idea of sugar added to distilled spirits and most haven’t spent a moment thinking about it. Why would the average shopper think about sugar content when you buy a gin? Turns out, there’s quite good cause to – They reported that Whitley Neill’s Rhubarb and Ginger Gin (reportedly selling over two million units a year now) has 15 teaspoons of sugar per bottle, whilst Gordon’s Pink has around 7g of sugar per 100ml. Beefeater got off lightest, with 4.6g per 100ml.
The Mail also pointed to research by Greenall’s which showed that a third of UK drinkers aren’t aware that flavoured gins contain sugar. Currently, UK producers aren’t required to list the sugar content in alcohol, but given that a shot of this stuff is equivalent to chomping on a toffee, it’s starting to seem a little absurd that it isn’t more widely advertised.
When broached, Pernod Ricard said it plans to provide calorie information on labels from December onwards. Let’s hope others follow suit…
We don’t wish to make light of what was an undoubtedly terrible situation for Mason’s Gin, but there’s a certain irony to their collaboration with Boutiquey Gin that was released this month… Smouldering Heights, a smokey, fiery twist on the spirit so strangely timed its almost funny. Upon its release, Karl Mason was quick to point out that the gin was conceived before the fire, saying: “This is a liquid created at Masons Yorkshire Gin distillery prior to the fire, that represent our local heritage and traditions. Even the label design, complete with flame-thrower, was conceived before the fire.”
Let’s be honest, it’s a mad coincidence, no? The gin itself is a smokey affair, with peated malt a key botanical in the line-up. It’s certainly one for whisk(e)y fans to watch out for.
Yes yes, we dedicate a lot of time to slating Pink Gin, after all there’s a lot of total dross that deserves a pasting and we’re not shy of saying so, but there are also times where it’s obvious to see what others do and last month our eyes were drawn to the offering from the Isle of Wight distillery. It is a sight to behold. Seriously, when we first saw it propped up on a pallet stand at Junipalooza we were drawn to it like moths to a flame. It’s just so beautiful. Jaw droppingly, beautiful. Packed with Island-grown strawberries, the liquid isn’t too bad either…
We could sense something on the wind a few months ago – a new gin from the Pernod stable. And not just any new gin – a newbie from Plymouth, made using just two ingredients: single origin Umbrian juniper and orris root. This is a great opportunity to show how multi-dimensional botanicals are – orris runs the flavour gauntlet, offering oily, rooty notes, soft hints of violet and a mega boozey hit. It’s one of the most paired back releases we’ve heard of in years, and in turn one of the most exciting. More on that soon but in brief – It is made with single origin juniper, picked on a single day, from a single mountain location in Frontignano, Italy, and only one batch will ever be made.
There weren’t just new gins on the scene this month, but new distilleries, too. Eight Lands, another interesting organic offering, opened its door this month. The distillery is the whole kit and caboodle, offering tours to all who venture into the Speyside region. Overemphasising provenance is de rigueur amongst distillers, and these guys have followed suit, using botanicals plucked as close as possible to the region.
Another brief glimpse of something interesting came from 6 o’Clock, who released a new limited edition version of their already limited edition range of Jekka Gin. This one, the Bouquet Garni edition, paced with herbs including tarragon, thyme, oregano and bay.
Dozens of others slipped by unnoticed, many not hugely worthy of comment. In fact, there was even a brand that launched 22 “gins” in one go. We won’t name it as quite frankly all 22 are what can only be described as bandwagon jumping candy-cane monstrosities. There were a few extra that caught our eye for better reasons however. London’s Bimber released an Oolong Tea infused tipple, while new vintage of Four Pillars’ Bloody Shiraz emerged. That hell-sent Koppaberg Pink Gin tripped over to gin in a tin status. Also canned were Brentingby, Chapel Down and Greenalls ready for summer sipping season. Rock Rose, too, has released the third in their Creative Collections range – Costal Editions Gin. Packed with seaweed, this promises to be something a little bit different.
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