Strap in, this one’s a bit nerdy. I’m going to share with you a few things I learned last week during the Gin Guild’s annual Ginposium seminar.
Gin’s post-covid recovery
News here is broadly positive, with sales at least 10% higher in much of the world than they were back in 2019 before covid came along to stir everything up. There are a few notable places, however, that have yet to recover, including the UK.
Spirits consumption overall has grown in the UK since the pandemic but gin has lost ground compared to vodka, liqueurs and rum, while ready-to-drink products (think canned cocktails etc.) are way out in front. It’s not all bad though. The number of distilleries in the UK is steadily rising and exports of UK gin are strong, particularly those headed to Europe.
Europe is good for gin right now. Italians in particular are drinking a lot more and the French are also growing quite fond. Sales are already developed and remain strong in Spain and the Netherlands.
The US is not as keen. Vodka and whiskies rule the roost there, as they have for many decades. Tequila is on its way to catch them up but has a lot of ground to cover. Interesting side note: while many of us Brits prefer our G mixed with T, the yanks tend to opt for martinis first and foremost. G&T is not the same cultural touchstone for them as it is over here.
Gin has long gone over big in Asia but much of that is down to one brand in one country — Ginebra San Miguel and The Philippines, respectively. Those Filipinos just can’t get enough of it, drinking 90% of the gin consumed on all of Asia during 2022. What’s interesting though is the growth elsewhere, much of that fuelled by the emergence of some superb homegrown premium brands, like India’s Hapusa to name just one. You’ll be able to find my tasting notes for this and other emerging Asian gins in my book, Gin: A Tasting Course. It’s published in September but you can pre-order now.
The science of juniper’s flavour
We may, one day in the not too distant future, have an answer to the thorny problem of what counts as a “predominant flavour of juniper” — as is required by law for any spirit wanting to use the name gin.
This is thanks to a project that uses AI to compare chemical analyses of gin samples with sensory data provided by judges at major international gin competitions. The first step of the research will culminate in an academic paper from Matthew Pauley, Assistant Professor at The ICBD at Heriot Watt University. I hope to write more about this when it’s published.