Ever fancied being a gin judge? Me too. And on Thursday l was honoured (and flabbergasted) to find myself included in a very elite group of professionals judging Craft Distilling Expo‘s Gin of the Year competition at the beautiful Bombay Sapphire Distillery!
If you’re anything like me, then your heart most likely skips a beat every time you spot a new gin on social media. And then sinks a little with the realisation that there is yet another product you have to add to your must-try list and attempt to track down. And it’s hard enough to keep up with just the UK gins. Don’t even get me started on the European and worldwide gins. It is nigh on impossible to keep up with the insatiable growth in the market at the moment but a new gin subscription service from Master of Malt may just keep you one step ahead of most of the rest of us.
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a mixologist, Think Gin Club could be the gin subscription service you’ve been looking for. At £40 a box, Think Gin Club offers equivalent value for money to Craft Gin Club and The Spirits Society but, in addition to the usual full-size bottle of craft gin, mixers and snacks, members also receive a mixology tool with every box.
The Drifters knew what they were talking about when they wrote Up On The Roof. And Gin Mare clearly know everything is all right up top too, as they launched their second annual Med Rooftops event in London on 20 July 2017. This year’s stunning event took place at The Institute of Engineering and Technology on Savoy Place overlooking the Thames. In keeping with the gin’s Mediterranean theme – its botanicals feature olives from Spain, thyme from Turkey, rosemary from Greece and basil from Italy – the rooftop was bedecked with olive trees, fragrant herbs and, of course, plenty of gin!
Imbibe Live is Europe’s largest on-trade drinks exhibition, showcasing an intimidating number of beers, wines, ciders and spirits. Even with my gin googles firmly on, there were more distilleries present than I could shake an empty glass at. With so much to see and so little time, I opted to skip past some of the more familiar (at least to me) and well-established brands, such as Sipsmith and Southwestern Distillery, but also, regrettably, missed out a few of the newer kids on the block like One Gin. Nonetheless, I definitely still succeeded in trying more gins than is probably wise on a Monday afternoon!
Gin is big in Spain. And so is the way they serve it. The instantly recognisable Gin Tonica is extravagantly served in a large fishbowl glass with generous mountains of ice and a tempting array of garnishes. Now one of Spain’s signature serves is making it big over here too with The Distillery’s Gin Tonica Bar launching last year. But if you can’t make it over to Spain, or indeed to West London, David T. Smith has just launched his own Gin Tonica book to help you make your very own Spanish cocktails at home.
Think of an Irish alcohol. Chances are Guinness is the first to spring to mind. Or perhaps whiskey, which some some claim was invented by Irish Monks. Irish coffees and poitín probably get a mention before gin. But, trust me, you can expect that to change. The Emerald Isle is home to a number of outstanding gin distilleries these days and they are starting to get the recognition they most certainly deserve.
A shed can be many things, from a small store for the lawnmower to a comfortable place of retreat, but few sheds contain gin distilleries. And even fewer distilleries are housed in an award-winning Shed of the Year. But that is from where Inshriach Gin hails; 2015’s Shed of the Year on the Inshriach Estate, deep in the Cairngorms National Park. Where better, then, to hold the London launch of the newest edition to the range, Inshriach Navy Strength 57%, than East London’s stunning Shed Village; itself a contender for Shed of the Year in 2016?
The world of gin is a fast-paced one and there are few places where that is more evident than at Junipalooza. Last year, I attended as a lucky competition winner and it was that experience that spurred me on to start this blog. This year, I was fortunate enough to be invited back as a “gin-sider”, so to speak. And I’m not the only one: last year Finlay and Eileen Geekie attended as members of the public; this year they were behind the stall of their very own, highly acclaimed, Colonsay Gin.
These are interesting times indeed in the gin subscription service market. Of the five services that launched in 2016, Tipple Box and microbarbax have already long since dropped their spirit and gin clubs (although both still offer their original cocktail clubs). And, as Gin Explorer prepare to call time on their miniature subscription service next month, Master of Malt have just announced their brand new Dram Club. Things appear more stable at the full-sized end of the market with Craft Gin Club, launched in January 2015, still going strong. But the competition there is clearly heating up too, especially with One Time Gin preparing to take on everyone else with a variety of bottle sizes when they relaunch later this year.