Whether you’ve always been a fan or jumped on the bandwagon during the recent ‘ginaissance’, you’ll know that gin, is in. According to a recent report by Mintel, UK gin sales are set to top £1bn this year for the first time, with millennials drinking more gin than ever. Once the chosen tipple of our elderly relatives, millennials are making gin super cool. Since 2010, gin sales have increased by 40% and are expected to continue to rise, hitting £1.3bn by 2020.
The first element to consider is the gin itself. In the past six years, the number of gin distilleries in the UK has more than doubled, with 49 new distilleries opening in 2015 alone.
Then there’s the mixer. It’s likely going to be a tonic, and with the increase in popularity of gin, tonic is also riding the wave. You can choose from your average supermarket own brand or a trusty Schweppes, however gin connoisseurs are opting for premium tonics to accompany their premium gins.
Fever Tree tonics have seen exceptional growth in recent years with UK sales increasing by 108% during the first half of 2016 and a revenue of £15.8m. EasyJet have reported a 42% increase in sales of gin and tonic on their flights since Fever Tree tonics were introduced on the menu.
The garnish of choice was once a slice of citrus fruit or cucumber, but now you can swill a handful of peppercorns in there or a sprig of rosemary to mention just a few. Not forgetting the all-important glassware. With fierce competition from distilleries popping up all over the country, the branding and bottle are just as important as the botanicals themselves. Isle of Harris distillery had to limit their visitors to one bottle of gin per person earlier on this year after unprecedented demand and a closure of their bottle manufacturing site.
So when did the gin craze really begin? The earliest records of gin date back to the 17th century when soldiers discovered the spirit in Holland during the Thirty Years War. The term ‘Dutch courage’ was soon coined, though the British version turned out to be rather headier than the original Dutch remedy. By the early 18th century, London was practically drowning in gin. 7,000 gin shops had opened in the city by c 1730, and many more illegal shops besides. Not at all refined like the gin we drink today, the concoctions often included sulphuric acid and turpentine, and were known to cause blindness. Hogarth’s Gin Lane depicted scenes of squalor and despair, and the spirit became known as ‘mothers ruin’ after a woman allegedly strangled her two-year-old son to death to sell his clothes for gin money. The spirit’s reputation and taste had both began to evolve by the 19th century, and pop-up food stalls would sell hot gin with gingerbread at fairs and public executions.
Today, gin is widely known as Britain’s national drink, and most premium gins hail from the many distilleries around the UK. The Phillippines drink more gin than any other country, which is why it’s just been bumped up to the top spot on my list of future holiday destinations.
Is it gin o’clock yet?
Written by Kayleigh Tarrant, Coriolis Ltd