Each year the “Who’s Who” of the bar and beverage industry’s German and European representatives gather in Berlin to make new contacts, find out about new product innovations and attend seminars to deepen their expertise.
The gin craze is most definitely in full swing and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. The interest from consumers, the licenced trade and media all seem to reflect the rediscovery of the versatility and sophistication of this adaptable spirit. With interest in gin well underway it is now consumers who are fuelling the boom. They are often surprisingly well-informed and curious, seeking out something new, exciting, or a gin whose production methodology, botanicals or back-story makes them want to find out more.
Consumers are actively interested in authenticity and history and even interested in the individuals who make their product – they love what is often quirky artisan crafted gin and the personal stories behind them. Whilst craft brands are remarkably buoyant both in the on and off-trade, the mainstream brands have also worked hard to build interest. It is not just in the UK but internationally that gin is big. Key markets include the USA, Spain, Germany and Italy.
There are also style variants. The USA has some particularly imaginative contemporary ‘New Western’ interpretations and several distilleries from the region around Germany and Switzerland make distinctive multi-botanical gins (such as Monkey 47), reflecting the region's taste for distilling botanical fruit spirits.
The great thing about the gin category is that (within reason), the category definitions (principally the EU definitions) are loose enough to allow a wide range of flavours, providing that as required juniper, the key botanical, is predominant.
So many gins...
What to try when presented with what is often a growing range of gin in stores and quality bars? No quick answers here as individual palates vary. It is a case of try (in a bar) before you buy (a bottle).
There are the big four (with their variants), Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Hendrick’s, Plymouth and Tanqueray. The super premium Beefeater 24, Star of Bombay and Tanqueray No. Ten, leading on to an almost limitless range of other gins to try.
Too many gins to list here - they range from Adnams to Warner Edwards.
Traditional juniper-led, through to contemporary citrus style and those with less common botanicals such as Honeysuckle, Red Kale, Hibiscus, lavender, spiced, sweeter old-style ‘Old Tom’ gins, Scottish botanicals, rhubarb, or seaweed or even a gin made from grape-based spirit as an alternative to the usual grain base.
...so little time.