Gin business is big business. It seems you can’t cut a cucumber without being told of a new bespoke distillery dripping out a fresh botanical. Stills have upped the ante in warehouses from West London to the back workshops of hitherto no-go areas of Cape Town.
And now, it’s not just about limited numbers – the choice of ingredients is key with flowers, fruits and ferns topping the must-have list, but bottle size and distillation process also affect product, price and general all-over covetability.
According to Gin Foundry, over the past year there has been a steady-rise in cask-aged gin, which shows no sign of slowing down.
The latest, and hottest release is the aged variant of Shortcross Gin, produced by the Rademon Estate Distillery in Northern Island. Touted as Fortnum & Mason’s February ‘Spirit of the Month’ the special release has been aged in Bordeaux oak barrels for three to four months, thereby creating a slightly amber-hued subtlety. Something a little bit deeper than the popular juniper, clove and citrus standard Shortcross.
Over at Selfridges, Cambridge Distillery’s Japanese Gin is being marketed as the world’s most exclusive gin. Only six bottles have been released with a tag of £2,000. According to Master Distiller William Lowe (who has previously started his stills on commission for the House of Lords), the gin is “distilled at half the pressure found on top of Mount Everest and at a temperature lower than the coldest day recorded at the South Pole,” with Japanese botanicals such as yuzu peel, shiso leaf, sansho pepper, sesame seeds and cucumber, alongside juniper.
However if you want quantity with your quality, the soon-to-be-released nine-litre bottle of gin produced by the Surrey-based Silent Pool Distillers may be just for you. The hand-painted bottle contains nine-litres(!) of the 24-botanical Silent Pool Gin which was launched in November last year. According to Cory Mason of the boutique distillery, Silent Pool “is a rich and clean juniper-driven spirit with floral layers of lavender and chamomile. Fresh notes of citrus and kafir lime are grounded with the subtle sweetness of local honey, creating a well-balanced gin that is both traditional and refreshingly individual.” A great tasting game could be had with this bottle – many mouths can be watered in the quest to identify each ingredient…. although maybe at £5,000 a pop, a cover charge may be an idea…?
So why is everyone and their uncle making gin? Rushing to create the next original, neat and new variant? Well, it’s easy to do. In fact, making gin is so simple that until the Gin Laws of 1751 over half the drinking establishments in London were gin shops – most of the gin coming from back room distilleries. Clerkenwell gin was easily dispensed from wall-mounted vending machines.
If the high-price tags and the high-volume bottles are all a bit too much, fret not, there are still unique small-run gins to be discovered. For instance, Irrevoche in the otherwise quiet Cape town of Stilbaai uses the South African indigenous Fynbos to create small-run, uniquely flavoursome floral gins that are now available in the UK through Museum Wines.
Whichever way you want your gin – for status, social or specialist reasons – be sure of one thing, ditch the Gordon’s and be adventurous with these new styles – and drink neat with a twist of lime.