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Gin Spin: February 2018

Written by Gin Foundry

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.

The Best Looking Gin in the World?

The biggest headline grabbing this month came when a very unlikely ally stepped into the Gin world - Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds, a newbie to spirits, announced his acquisition of American-made Aviation Gin in a typically wry manner, Tweeting to his followers (alongside a picture of him clutching a bottle of the good stuff: “in the long and in no way disaster marriage of showbiz and alcohol, so happy to announce that I’m the proud owner of a Gin company.”

Though Reynolds said he was interested in the company the instant he tasted the gin, his out of office suggests that he’ll be taking someone of a back seat when it comes to the every day. That said, the Reynolds brand of humour is already running rampant on the brand’s social accounts, with Aviation Tweeting an introduction to its new boss that described him as an ‘actor, producer, professional good looking person.”

From a British perspective, Gin, somehow, has risen again up the cool ranks and investment from an action film star shows just how well its shaken off its ‘lady’s drink’ past. Gin, as we all know is no longer mother’s ruin, it belongs to all of us! As commentators looking at the US as a market however, the acquisition is much more interesting as it marks the first major sign of the re-rebirth of gin in the country, that up to this point has just been bubbling under the surface. The category peaked in 2007, having exploded since the turn of the century, but then dipped a little with the cool factor firmly set on darker spirits and in particular on Rye (in regards to mass market appeal). For those of looking carefully however, Gin has been noticeably growing over the past two years across the country and within craft distilling communities; poised to flourish in popularity once more. We hope this very public step demonstrates a re-opening of the popularity door, and look forward to what comes next!

Interestingly enough, when we reported on Davos’ takeover of the brand back in November 2016, we did so with a certain… unease. House Spirits Distillery divested in its own brand, made numerous statements that left a lot to read between the lines, yet continue to make the liquid onsite. It felt a bit hollow and incomplete a story, so this next chapter is an exciting turn…

Way to go…

Scotland is a huge market when it comes to gin, both in terms of making and drinking the stuff. With global brands like Hendrick’s, Gordon’s, Tanqueray and more distilling up in the land of snow, there’s some real force behind the industry.

And so, we read with great happiness the news that Caorunn is now the top selling gin in the region in the off-trade, beating a hell of a lot of strong competition along the way. Part of this new success is down to a bottle relaunch, which saw the branding transfer to a more slender (therefore more “shelfable”) shape.

Describing the recent successes, Global Brand Manager Iboyla Bakos-Tonner said: “Caorunn is number one in volume in the 700ml pack size, ahead of Hendricks… Sales of Caorunn have tripled from 2014 to 2017, which demonstrates the consumer demand for our hand crafted products. As such, in five years’ time, Caorunn sees itself placed amongst super premium craft gin plans, leading the way in the category.”

Save The Planet, One Drink at a Time

It was good to see Pinkster get in on that box-wine style of gin serving. These three litre bag in boxes are a great way to eliminate glass waste and to see a huge brand like Pinkster leading the way on this is a sure sign of good things to come. (Props here to the lesser known but equally great Victory Gin, which has been doing this for years).

New Releases

It’s been a busy month for line extensions. Edinburgh Gin has released the quite delicious sounding Pomegranate and Rose Gin Liqueur, whilst Beefeater is set to launch it’s strawberry-tasting Pink Gin in the UK and Spain this April.

Berry Bros & Rudd has also got in on the new gin action, releasing a gin that has a nice story to tell, albeit one too twee for our cynical minds. The gin has, according to the press release, been produced according to the taste of one of the last remaining drams of a gin that was first created in 1909 and which - confusingly - seems to have stopped in the 1950s (as we’ve been seeing news reports of it disappearing from the merchant’s range in 2014, some 60 years later…).

It’s nice to imagine the team trying to deconstruct the flavours of a 50’s bottling, (much like Monica trying to ascertain the recipe for Phoebe’s grandma’s last cookie in Friends), but given that winter savory (a Thames Distillery staple ingredient used in numerous gins emerging from the distillery) is used, we can’t help but wonder just how accurate this gin is going to be…

Meanwhile, Makar makers Glasgow Distillery has unveiled the hugely appealing Double Cherry Gin as part of its new Single Batch Series spirit range, which will see one-off 1000-bottles-a-piece runs pushed out to the market.  Glasgow Distillery founder Mike Haywood said: “These products will allow consumers to have an insight into our workings here at the distillery. We are constantly coming up with ideas for new products, and new ways to improve and alter our existing products.

“The Single Batch Series takes our experiments, bottles our ideas and gives it to the public for a chance to have their say on what they like and what they don’t.”

The double in Double Cherry Gins comes from two types of cherry contact. First, the gin is given a 10-week bath in a cherry wood cask, then it is macerated in fresh cherries until ready to drink. To see this level of consideration make its way into fruity drinks is somewhat reassuring - there have been some grotesquely sweet, far from ginny ‘fruit gins’ released over the past year or so, very few of which are doing anything positive for the Gin category. To see something of this quality emerge through the blizzard is a sure sign that Fruit Gin might not quite be the death of Gin… yet.

A Nice Little Re-Do

Did you spot our newly revamped Botanical Tasting Wheels? They came back from the printers a couple of weeks ago and look (if we do say so ourselves) utterly glorious. With 160 botanicals now mapped out around the edge of the wheel, it is the go-to device for those seeking to understand and articulate the flavours in the gins they are tasting.

Our reason for re-doing the wheel was simple: Gin has grown. It’s grown in the UK, it’s grown internationally and it’s grown conceptually, with strange, local botanicals now the order of the day. We’ve tried to include as many of these as possible, keeping the Australian/South African market in mind. It is now one of the most comprehensive tools for tasting on the market, and at just £4, is well worth getting hold of if we say so ourselves…!

A Milestone to remember!

Hayman’s Gin unveiled their new distillery in Balham, and, as if two new stills, a new space and a now integrated distribution wasn’t enough to talk about… also unveiled a new look bottle design that combines a clear sense of heritage with a contemporary feel and a splash of colour.

Talking about the move, Miranda Hayman said  “It’s always been a lifelong ambition to come back to London and back to being a London distillery, it’s almost like we’ve come full circle”. While we see her point, respectfully, we disagree. This is not full circle at all, this is not the same old Hayman’s but in London - it’s a huge step up and will be a platform for exponential growth in the years to come. The space, is without doubt the most impressive open door distillery we’ve seen in years and the design touches, taken from bottle all the way to POS are mightily impressive. Contemporary yet respectful of the brand’s heritage - both the new look range and the venue positions them exactly where they need, and deserve, to be - right at the top of the pack.

We are certainly not the first to say this, but consider yourself fully briefed; team Hayman’s have set a bar and shown their intent - they are the ones to watch in 2018…