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!
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.
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.