Gin Spin: May
Gin Foundry takes a keen eyed look at industry news to bring you a snapshot of the best bits the last month has had to offer.
Brand New, Still Peculiar
Hendrick’s sent Gin nerds spiralling at the beginning of last month when they snuck out a new release: Hendrick’s Orbium. The new expression has the exact same distillates that made the original gin so distinct – rose and cucumber, but this time with added quinine, wormwood and blue lotus blossom thrown in for good measure.
Brand Ambassador Duncan McRae popped into the Gin Foundry office with a bottle and we were instantly wowed. He explained that Hendrick’s Orbium is a continuation of other side projects distiller Leslie Gracie has been working on, like Quinetum and Battersea, and that the flavour was inspired largely by Gracie’s love of blue lotus.
It’s sweet and clean; tart, but not bitter – a really, truly tasty gin, that manages to be different, but ginny nonetheless. Specifics aside, when you smell the original Hendrick’s today, it’s not as far “out there” as you think it will be (in that it was once on the edge of the category, but since its release boundaries have been pushed much further, and while Hendrick’s is not / never was classic, it’s no longer the outlier and is much more reserved compared to some of the weird and wonderful releases that have emerged since 2010). Orbium’s aroma is a release that’s more progressive than the original and positions itself much further towards the edge of today’s category, which just about encompasses every flavour under the sun.
The gin is only available to trade accounts at present, so you’ll find it in a bar if you’re lucky, otherwise you might have a wait on your hands. We’ve no doubt it’ll get commercial release eventually: people love Hendrick’s, and they’ll embrace this with both arms.
The Return of ‘Juvagr
Other new gins from this month include Orkney Distilling’s Navy Strength edition. Kirkjuvagr Arkh-Angell (named for it’s Nordic angelica input – Archangelica is its Norweigian moniker) is a 57% ABV gin, designed to retain all the characteristics of the distillery’s first expression, Kirkjuvagr. It’s limited to 1,000 bottles at an RRP of £47.99.
The Kirkujavgr gins are currently being made by Strathearn on mainland Scotland, but brand owners Stephen and Aly Kemp are in the process of building their own seaside distillery. With two already under their belt, it’s fair to assume that they’re going to be doing a great deal more experimenting when they’ve got their own equipment to hand.
The Best of the Rest
Beam Suntory has announced a premium Japanese gin to its portfolio. Roku will launch in Japan in July, selling for ¥4,000 (around £28). Roku Gin, according to Nikkei’s Asian Review, is being made as a response to the slowdown in demand for beer and the growth of premium gins. Though Roku Gin is being made for the Japanese market initially, Beam Suntory is looking at the opportunities for distribution further afield. Ki No Bi watch out!
The gin will be made by Suntory Spirits at its distillery in Osaka, and will “embrace both Japanese and overseas trends.” The botanicals pegged for inclusion are: cherry blossom, cherry leaves, green tea, refined green tea, Japanese pepper, yuzu and eight classic botanicals.
Talking of foreign inspiration, Sussex based Chilgrove Gin has released a new edition: Chilgrove Bluewater Gin. The expression – a celebration of Australian and English culture – uses the grape-based spirit of its sister but contains a handful of Australian botanicals such as finger lime, lemon myrtle (obviously) and Davidson plum.
Meanwhile, Portobello released an Old Tom Gin. To create the blend, Jake Burger took a pot-distilled barley spirit that had been distilled up to about 70% ABV, (which is the equivalent of an unaged Scotch Whisky) and redistilled it with juniper, coriander seed and liquorice, before adding a little sugar and a little spice. The gin was then diluted down to around 40% ABV before being aged in very old sherry barrels above the bar in The Distillery’s Resting Room.
Finally – having announced the relaunch of their Explorer Edition Gin in March and been on sale since April, it seems that the Lakes Distillery’s second release is growing in traction and developing quite a fan base. Keep an eye out for the cornflower blue hued bottle across the summer as we’ve got a feeling it’ll be a runaway success…
The tonic category is an ever-widening one, and with literally thousands of gins in existence, we need them to keep on coming. More tonics = more G&T options. Infinite G&T options, in fact…
Devon based Luscombe Drinks released a range of three tonic waters at the end of May: Elderflower Tonic Water, Grapefruit Tonic Water and Devon Tonic Water. The latter seems particularly of the moment, with current superstar botanical yuzu in the lineup.
Chairman Gabriel David explains why he entered into the tonic world: “Given the phenomenal rise in craft spirits, we have had a number of requests from out trade customers for a range of super-premium tonics that will enhance – rather than compete with – the complex flavours of these artisan spirits.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool based Halewood Spirits has also stepped into the fray, releasing a low calorie range under the name Lamb & Watt. The range comprises four editions: Original, cucumber, hibiscus and basil.
Halewood is expecting big things for the range. Brand Manager Leanne Ware said: “We predict this brand will be a disrupter for the current booming tonic category, and will offer bartenders a refreshing point of difference to enhance the enjoyment of a variety of premium spirits, as well as offering an alternative to a non-alcoholic tipple.”
The move towards Gin as a go to spirit means that people are giving a lot more consideration to tonic (both classic and flavoured) when opting for a booze-free refresher, so while brands are undoubtedly going to team up with gins, the category is becoming something that can and will stand alone.
With this in mind, it’s of little surprise that Franklin & Sons has added a Sicilian Lemonade & English Elderflower with Crushed Juniper mixer to their portfolio. Together, the fresh British elderflowers and hand-selected lemons from Sicily result in a drink that opens with a burst of citrus and is balanced with a hint of juniper. Along with the floral tones of elderflower, it’s a great addition for Summer Fruit cups or for those just looking to go 0% ABV.
Just Add Water
Bombay Sapphire made global headlines when a thousand or so cases released into the Canadian wilds was recalled. The problem? Some rowdy bottles inadvertently made their way into the bottling line when they were switching between bottling tanks and ended up with an ABV almost double that of the 40% advertised on the front – 77%!
The error was quickly discovered by the Liquor Bar in Ontario – though perhaps to their regret. A splash of water would have put that little error right. We wonder how many bottles were returned?
Gin drinking is becoming an increasingly experiential experience, with brands fully embracing the opportunity to create memories for their drinkers.
Tanqueray TEN got on board with this in mid-May when it created ‘the ultimate travel experience’ on board vintage carriages of the Belmond British Pullman. The event was part of Tanqueray’s Perfect Ten Series – a campaign run to celebrate the makers behind the UK’s most creative luxury brands.
The train journey was a step back in time, with guests carried through the British countryside on glamorous 1920s carriages. They sipped G&Ts, cocktails and a seven course dinner, designed to match the botanicals within the gin. It was pricey, at £450 per person, but this level of immersion is becoming a real habit of Tanqueray’s… We can’t wait to see what they get up to next.
Greenall’s Original London Dry and Wild Berry Gins have hit the shelves in brand new packaging this week. This isn’t the first rebrand from the company, and it probably won’t be the last as they strive to keep up with the ever evolving Gin industry. The new bottle is certainly a step up, with a much ‘craftier’ look about it.
Asda Moves Makes Moves on the Craft Market
Waitrose were the first supermarket giant to realise the value of craft gin, followed in recent months by M&S. Both supermarkets started filling their shelves with a weird, wonderful and creative collection of craft spirits.
While Tesco and Sainsbury’s are yet to really widen their offerings to more than a handful, Asda has really upped its game, adding gins from four Scot brands (Eden Mill, Pickering’s, Porter’s and Ginerosity) to its roster this month in contracts worth £800,000.
Asda has also signed a deal with Halewood Spirits to distribute the full Liverpool gin range across its North West stores, and Northern Irish gin Jawbox has also scored a distribution deal with the supermarket chain. A quick click through their offering shows a broad range, from Gunpowder Irish Gin to Boodles to Ungava Canadian Gin. What this shows is that they’re actively seeking and selecting gins outside of the ordinary and responding to the growth of the craft market. Over to you, Tesco and Sainsbury’s…
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