Gin Spin: September
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.
Half a Century of Gin
Early in September, Beefeater held a special anniversary party for its Master Distiller, Desmond Payne, who was celebrating 50 years as a Gin distiller. It was a huge milestone moment and a great reminder that Gin was and is a vast industry, even outside of the current trend.
The big takeaway from the night, held at The Ivy Tower Bridge, was that Gin is a gentleman/woman’s game; barkeeps and rival makers were there in droves, and every single person present had an anecdote about ‘that one time’ Desmond showed up and made their day. With friendly competition put to the side – many just wanted to mark a moment for the great distiller and celebrate it in style. We tried to capture a few of these anecdotes on camera in a little tribute we made for the occasion. Congratulations, Desmond – we look forward to fifty more years!
From Bermondsey to Bombay
Bombay Sapphire has appointed Dr Anne Brock as its Master Distiller. Oxford University educated Dr Brock has spent the last four years as Lead Distiller at Jensen’s producer Bermondsey Distillery and plays a big role in the Gin Guild, where she sits on the board of directors.
Commenting on her excitement at joining this global brand, Dr Brock said: “I am extremely proud to be joining Bombay Sapphire and to be representing such an iconic leader of the Gin category. As an individual who is incredibly passionate about Gin, I look forward to working with a team who share a drive to push boundaries and innovate.”
In a month where the Savoy announced their first female head bartender since Ada Coleman (which is great but also slightly shocking it took that long), we wonder quite how far ahead Gin as a category is, in terms of smashing that particular glass ceiling and glad to see another appointment to reflect this. We meet a great deal of female Master Distillers on our travels, some of whom at leading the very biggest producers around, from Joanne Moore at G&J Greenall’s to Lesley Gracie at Hendrick’s.
The Gin Hub
Pernod Ricard has launched The Gin Hub, an independent unit designed to drive further growth in the Gin category. The group’s brands Beefeater, Plymouth and Seagram’s (Monkey 47, of which Pernod took a majority stake last year, will not join the hub) had previously sat under the Chivas Brothers umbrella, but this new unit will provide more autonomy and room for the gins to breathe and evolve.
Former Chivas Brothers Global Marketing Director Sophie Gallois will lead the Gin Hub. Commenting on its launch, she said: “Aptly named The Gin Hub, we are creating a foundation from which our world class expertise, innovation and ideas can truly thrive. It will be an axis around which revolves gin thinking, appreciation, imagination and of course, brands.”
What this shows, above all, is that those with hugs stakes in the category still see room for further growth. Gin isn’t going anywhere soon.
Gin Yogurt. U Wot M8?
The weary and embattled cry of “enough now” (amongst more profanity driven hashtags) has been flowing from the mouths of Gin commentators this month, after a Gin and Lemon flavoured yogurt hit the headlines. This was followed by news of G&T flavoured ‘fun buns’, reports of a Tom Collins perfume from Primark’s Irish arm, Penneys, as well as 1 litre Copa glasses for those who, you know, drink 6 G&T’s at a time…
All of this noise and nonsense cheapens the Gin category, and the contrived nature of it all reminds us of that one teacher who’d straddle a chair with his hat on backwards saying ‘hey, I’m cool. Like me, I’m cool.’ Gin is having its moment, fine, but stop forcing it onto everything else. You won’t spread the love, you’ll dilute it.
And look, there’s room to play around with the category – we were the first people to make a Gin-filled Advent Calendar, so we know all about this stuff! We’re also the first to say that Penhaligon’s gin inspired “Juniper Sling” smells fantastic. We’re happy to give credit to weird ideas where it’s due, but while the likes of our product could be perceived as superfluous, it was genuinely designed to introduce people to well made, often hard-to-find craft gins. To give fans a chance to try 24 new tipples and to join a conversation and community that adores the spirit. A €2.50 perfume does not a happy Gin fan make.
The very last ticket release for Sipsmith’s Juniper Manor go on sale today. It’s hard to talk about it without giving the whole game away, but we’ll tell you this much: we went. And we laughed and ate and drank and had one of the more memorable nights of our whole London lives. We don’t just recommend trying to get tickets, we insist. Available here: junipermanor.com
The biggest (re)release of the month came from Warner Edward’s, whose new Honeybee Gin was launched at Fortnum & Mason. Made in association with the Royal Horticultural Society, the gin is a sweet, mellow yellow, honey-infused tipple using botanicals farmed from the hedgerows surrounding the distillery.
Each bottle of the gin will come with a packet of wildflower seeds, which will hopefully see lots of gardens transition into bee-friendly sanctuaries. Discussing the brand’s lean towards freshly harvested ingredients, co-founder Tom Warner said: “We completely rely on the generosity of nature in producing our delicious gins. We have a dedicated beekeeper in Jonny Easter at Falls Farm, as well as our own botanical garden, so doing our bit in raising awareness of the plight of the bumblebee and encouraging the planting of wild flowers is authentic to our ethos.”
Another notable launch came from Chase, which created a special gin for The Ivy to celebrate its one hundredth birthday. The Ivy Centenary Gin features ivy, spruce needles, sage, coriander and bitter almond amongst its botanical line-up, and harks back to the bar’s early years, in which its bartenders served up classic gin cocktails during the age of Craddock, Coleman et al.
One-offs and bar-specific gins will continue to spread as drinkers look towards having something a little bit rare and bars look towards providing that. With so much competition, distilleries have to look towards diversification and bespoke spirits could be just the antidote.
The Art of Mixing
And, in not Gin but still Ginny news, Fever-Tree: The Art of Mixing was released this month. The book is crammed with 125 long-drink and cocktail recipes, all of which were created for the brand by world beating bartenders, including Tales of the Cocktail 2016 winner Angel Teta. Having already climbed to Amazon’s top sellers list with many echoing the following thoughts – It’s a great read and definitely worth tucking away in the Christmas present archives…
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