Over and Out! A year of highlights
Coming into the final stages of 2018, it’s hard to think that a year ago many thought we had reached ‘Peak Gin.’ Even we’d dabbled with the idea… Following on from a 2017 that had seen the category grow by millions of bottles already, it seemed unlikely that it could grow that much further. How wrong we were!
Certainly, no-one could have predicted that it would be a year that’s set to break all records, and in doing so break free of all precedents set for the category. There’s been more of everything, from new entries from new distillers, new extensions on existing ranges, new makeovers of tired brands and entire new sub-genres of Gin gaining the kind of credibility and mass adoption that’s unparalleled anywhere else.
We’ve had a busy year ourselves here at Gin Foundry, taking on more projects and growing exciting ones to a larger scale than ever before too. We kicked off with a new version of our Botanical Tasting Wheel, which – now featuring twice as many botanicals – has evolved into one of the most complete flavour wheels of any sort in food and drink.
We also launched an extension of it in A2 poster format (again mapping even further ingredients, including many native Australian botanicals that are only just becoming a more prominent feature of the industry). It’s been humbling to see them hung on walls and visitor centres around the world as we have visited distilleries throughout the year.
We also took the time to clean up, extend and augment a new version of our little book of G&T’s, made in collaboration with Fever-Tree. Complete with tabbed sides, extended gin selections and a garnish guide that includes both ice and slice as well as alternative ideas for the more adventurous drinkers, it is now the ultimate little pocket guide for gin o’clock.
Not content with sticking to purely printed media nor re-imagining existing concepts and improving them, we launched our Spotlight mini-series in January. Featuring high value production videos showcasing the various ways in which Gin is made while speaking to some of the icons of the distilling world, the micro series – complete with insight articles on the broader topics that each video touched upon – was nominated in the long list for ‘Best Broadcast, Podcast or Online Video Series’ at Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards.
Meanwhile, our meet the maker show, Junipalooza, reached record sizes in London & Melbourne, with countless new faces joining us and world class Gins launching at the show. In a year that saw both hundreds of new gin festivals emerge and some major ones go bust, we’re proud to have established ours as a milestone in many a gin fan’s calendar. It’s a responsibility and challenge we love and take on with huge pride as we look to improve each and every year.
In September, we proudly held an edition in Hamburg, taking over the infamous Fish Market for a two day celebration of all things juniper-laced, which marked the start of a possible ‘on tour’ date that we’re looking to host either there or elsewhere in the world in 2019.
Whilst riding in the passenger side of cars and between trains, planes and distillery trips, we also wrote a book – Gin: Distilled, condensing the category into an easily digestible, high quality offering with the team at Ebury Press. Published in September, it’s the perfect bluffer’s guide to the world of Modern Gin and deliberately pitched at those just getting into the spirit. We hope that it will help readers on their journey and welcome them into the weird and wonderful world that we all adore!
This, of course, did not stop us on our yearly self published project, the Gin Annual, which doubled in size and moved to soft cover to account for the increased page count. We tried (and feel we achieved) to encapsulate the parts that excited us most about 2018, the areas that make us wonder the most about 2019 and featured a whole raft of brands, distillers and concepts that we find hugely inspiring.
As it is published in November, one of the areas that it doesn’t cover is the lunacy that is December! For those of you who have joined us during our pop-up in Old Street, or have a Ginvent calendar at home – you’ll know the madness and pure exhilaration that marks the winter season at Gin Foundry. The 2018 Ginvent calendar, we feel, is the best we’ve ever assembled and we’d like to thank all who joined us for a G&T at our pop-up, something that we’re already looking to repeat next year on a grander scale!
Big set piece projects aside, we ensured that we continued our smaller, more intimate tastings and events throughout the year. We’ve hosted tastings in wine cellars, new and old distilleries, Victorian mansion houses, at international trade events and at local food fares – we even hosted a few whilst whizzing around the London Eye!
As part of our Gin events here in our tasting room, we’ve performed live distilling demos, hosted foraging trips up the Thames, held a Summer Series and helped another hundred or so distillers get one step closer to their dreams through our How to Open a Gin Distillery workshops. All in all, we have hosted over 40 events.
It wasn’t just other distillers and gin brands that we’ve helped kick start though – after months of research we released phase one of our Blend Your Own Gin programme, which saw the 32 distillates become available to the public. Thank you to all who made this possible and we look forward to unveiling part two in the new year… To say that we’re excited about the next step is an understatement!
If all of this wasn’t enough, behind the scenes we’ve been building a solid infrastructure for Gin Kiosk and amassing some 500 + five star review on Trustpilot in the process. It’s now become an established platform and has offered many small craft brands and established players a route to market that we are hugely proud to have been able to facilitate. More importantly though, as gin drinkers and shoppers ourselves first and foremost, we’ve worked hard to ensure it offers one of the best selections of gins and tonics in the UK and with campaigns like the Kiosk Cup, many a distiller has added further value to each order dispatched. We were particularly proud this when our little shop was nominated for best Independent Online Retailer at the Think Gin Awards.
Lastly, this little article will mark the 150th item of content published on this site in 2018, and with over 52 new reviews in that count, that marks Gin Foundry not just as a repository of information for gin fans, but one of the most prolific ones too. We’d have settled for that, but we reached a huge milestone for the site this year too, with over 1.2 million unique users reading its contents. Thank you for caring, reading, sharing and commenting on the articles we publish.
It’s been restless, relentless and intoxicatingly fun to be a part of. It’s also been the most exhausting year we’ve ever had as a small team. Few fully appreciate this, but we are just a two and a half person team and so all of the above wouldn’t be possible without the support and passion of a whole legion of gin fans who make what we do so much fun.
We’re now signing out to rest our eyes and worn down finger tips until next year, which will see, much, much more.
It’s a privilege to comment on the category today and to be a part of these crazy times. As writers and lifetime enthusiasts, it’s quite clear that this is, and has been demonstrated time and again in 2018, a truly golden era for Gin.
We’ll see you next year!
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