Another year has flown by and what a year it was! Both for gin as a whole and also for my more personal gin pursuits. It has, on the whole, been an outstanding year for the industry with sales reaching an all-time high and gin being declared the most popular spirit in the UK. But, with the highs of sales in excess of 47m bottles of gin, came the inevitable lows as people looked to sell out and cash in. The wonderful gin community rallied though and, desperate to protect our sacred spirit, the #StopFuckingWithGin hashtag was born! While The Pool asked if the gin joke had gone too far, and Gin Monkey – rightly – reminded us to use the hashtag with due respect, there were plenty of offenders who deserved little sympathy – such as gin and tonic tea bags, crisps and, quite possibly the worst of them all, G&T fun buns!
Remember Mabel? The charming centenarian who hit the headlines after swearing the secret to long life was drinking six gin-and-tonics a day, but devastatingly died from alcohol poisoning after downing one too many bottles of free gin sent by kind-hearted distilleries? If not, you’re not alone. But I will never forget that cautionary tale, largely because the moral of the story was not to drink less gin. Hurrah!
Limited edition gins are big news. Very big. But they can also be problematic; being expensive, risky and time-consuming for distilleries to bring to market. But that is where the newly launched That Boutique-y Gin Company comes riding gallantly to the rescue. That Boutique-y Gin Company, sister to the highly successful whisky company of the same name, is the world’s first independent gin bottler, taking secret unreleased projects and exciting experiments from distilleries in their purest form before bottling, labelling and marketing the products themselves.
I began 2016 with a relatively well-stocked gin cabinet (compared to most) and no gin blog. And ended it with a, frankly, ludicrous amount of gin by anybody’s standards and a blog that is going from strength to strength and, more importantly, giving me (and hopefully you) a lot of pleasure. So thank you all for all your support in 2016.
2016 has earned itself a pretty damning reputation and, largely, with good reason. But, politics and celebrity deaths aside, it hasn’t been all bad. And for gin it’s been pretty bloody good! Approximately 50 new distilleries opened last year, contributing to a total production of 528 million litres of gin and resulting in sales of over £1billion for the first time. The rise and rise of small-batch craft gin was the theme of the year, but the big story came right at the end, when the founders of the craft gin renaissance, Sipsmith, were sold to Beam Suntory, the world’s third-largest spirits company (and owner of Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Teacher’s and Courvoisier), for a reported £50million. Other significant deals included the sale of Spencerfield Spirit Company, producers of Edinburgh Gin, to Ian Macleod Distillers, and Liverpool Gin to Halewood International, the makers of Lambrini.
There’s always a must-have toy at Christmas that everyone is desperate to get their mitts on. This year, however, that item is a toy for adults, not children, and comes in the shape of a simple Christmas bauble. A bauble … filled with gin!
Remember Mabel? The marvellous 100-year-old we all took to our hearts when we read how she swore the secret to long life was drinking six gin-and-tonics a day. She declared: “I have two at lunchtime, one at tea-time with a biscuit, and then three more during the evening while I do my knitting. I swear the gin keeps me young!” She even calculated that, as it took her a week to get through a bottle, she had consumed 4,264 bottles since she started drinking! I am the bearer of bad news. I am mourning Mabel. Mabel is no more. For she never was.