Having a thirst for knowledge

Operators can cash in on consumers’ desire to learn more

CONSUMERS’ interest in the provenance of spirits has skyrocketed in recent years, bolstered by the raft of small-batch, craft spirits which continue to pour into the drinks scene every year.

• Gin masterclasses are a form of theatre and should be fun for all involved, drinks firms say.

And operators can tap into this demand with tailored gin events and masterclasses, firms told SLTN.

But what does it take to host truly interesting, memorable masterclasses?

Knowledge should always be the starting point, according to Andrew Jackson of Fentimans.

“It is really important for an operator to know what they’re talking about,” said Jackson.

“Knowledge is key in this industry, and people attending masterclasses want to come away having learnt something new.

“Operators must pick a bartender with outstanding knowledge of the industry and drinks in general to host the masterclass.”

With bartender knowledge so important, training was said to be essential.

Lindsay Blair, brand ambassador for Daffy’s Gin, said training topics typically include: the history of gin, different styles and production methods, the people behind the brands, and how to use the spirit in drinks.

With such a broad range of gins now available, deciding on the right products to feature in a masterclass can be tricky.

James Hayman of Hayman’s Gin stressed the importance of knowing your own audience, and tailoring events to their tastes.

“Some sections of the consumer-base are now incredibly knowledgeable about gin and will expect truly in-depth information,” he said.

“However, the majority of consumers may not have even heard of traditional English gin styles, such as Old Tom.”

Therefore, bartenders should “start with the basics but be ready to go in-depth when required”, said Hayman.

Bob Fowkes of Brockmans Gin said there are ‘three secrets’ to masterclass success, including: publicising the event well in advance, offering a similar but informative gin menu, and talking to brands, who can help organise a gin event as well as train staff on how “to present each gin to best effect by understanding the botanicals that make each one unique”.

When all is said and done, Hayman of Hayman’s Gin reckons masterclasses “should build the consumer’s confidence rather than leaving them with the impression that [gin] is too intimidating a category to explore further”.