Dropping ice and into a crystal glass before splashing in a measure of gin and topping up with tonic I realised I had become my dad.
But I am not the only one. There has been a gin explosion in the UK and one that doesn’t look like it is going to stop anytime soon.
Believe it or not this boom started back in 2009 when Sipsmith opened the first traditional cooper gin distillery to open in London since 1820. From then the gin trend hasn’t stopped, even overtaking vodka as the UK’s favourite spirit.
According to HM Revenue & Customs, who handles the issuing of licences to produce spirits, nearly 50 new distilleries opened and only a few closed. This doesn’t take into account the whisky distilleries that are not producing gin as well. There are a total of 315 distilleries in Britain, this is double the number five years ago.
The demand for artisan gins is where the real sales are happening. People are seeking interesting, small scale flavours.
Waitrose’s spirits buyer, John Vine, told the Guardian that local and regional sales were driving the trend, rather than the international brands. Sales of artisan brands at the grocer are up 167%, compared with a 30% rise in mass-produced brands.
“The rise in craft gin is certainly shows no sign of slowing,” Vine said.
This trend follows on from the craft beer resurgence of recent years. After spending years in the background, hipsters brought craft beer to the front of everyone’s mind and made it desirable. And the same is happening with gin.
Larger companies are now buying up smaller brands around the world to just to keep up.
With the number of distilleries rising and long gone are the days of pubs and bars offering just one gin, it looks like this is one trend with lasting power.
The equipment for gin is the same for whisky and many of the new gin distilleries have plans for whisky in the future. Cooper King Distillery in York is expected to follow its gin production with a whisky by 2022.
The founders, Chris Jaume and Abbie Neilson decided to set up their distillery after visiting Sullivan’s Cove in Tasmania. This Australian single malt was named as the best in the world.
“It opened our eyes that whisky could be made in other countries than Scotland and Japan,” Jaume told The Guardian.
“The UK is dominated by scotch, but we are beginning to hear of people being disenchanted by a product made in such huge volumes. To some extent it has lost its romance”, he continued.
So whilst many trends come and go gin is here to stay. Although as we millennials start feeling like our parents, it does make us question whether gin has ever not been on trend. Maybe not, but at least we have better tonics and more interesting garnishes now.