GIN’S seemingly inexorable rise has transformed the category in recent years and as the spirit’s popularity has risen, so has the breadth of gin styles available to Scotland’s bars and pubs.
But as a spirit that is already so diverse, where can gin go in 2018?
Flavour and colour are likely to play a more prominent role this year, drinks firms told SLTN.
Neil Boyd, commercial director at Edinburgh Gin parent firm Ian Macleod Distillers, said pink gin, violet gin, and rhubarb gin “are all the rage, so flavours and colours will continue to be important”.
Similarly, James Porteous, director and distiller at Leith-based Electric Spirit Co, said he expects gin-based liqueurs to see continued growth in the coming months.
“I think there will be a continuation of the growth in gin-based liqueurs, primarily as the sweetness and fruit flavour make them more accessible for consumers who aren’t that keen on the traditional flavour profile of gin,” said Porteous.
“But I also think you’ll see gins with more complex flavour profiles emerging for those who are looking for something different.”
This was reinforced by Lindsay Blair, global brand ambassador for Daffy’s Gin, who told SLTN flavoured gins “are growing in popularity, so we will likely see brands experimenting with this to appeal to a wider audience”.
And with so many craft gin brands jostling for a spot on back-bars across the country, the botanicals in each product will be pulled into sharper focus, according to Dan Bolton of Hi-Spirits, whose portfolio includes Langley’s No.8 and Brooklyn Gin.
He said: “With so many gins already on the market, new entrants into the market will need to differentiate themselves, so expect to see more unusual botanicals, particularly savoury flavours such as herbs and spices.”
People will get more discerning and start to ask: Is this craft? Where is it made?
Boyd of Ian Macleod Distillers echoed this view, saying he reckons the range of botanical ingredients utilised “will widen – perhaps we will see cactus [or] acai berry being used”.
James Nicol, managing director of Kokoro Gin (a Japanese-inspired London Dry gin), said he expects to see more varieties of classic serves coming to the fore in the months ahead.
“Tall alternatives to a gin and tonic will be big,” he said.
“Old style gin and bitter lemon, or a gin and ginger ale are every bit as versatile as a gin and tonic.”
Provenance will also continue to play a big role this year, according to Carlo Valente of VC2 Brands, whose portfolio includes Stirling-based Boë Superior Gin.
He said that the “thirst for knowledge coming from the consumer seems to be never ending”.
Craig Rankin of Crafty Distillery, which is based in Newton Stewart, agreed, adding, “people will get more discerning and start to ask: ‘Is this craft? Is this premium? Where is it made?’”.
And this focus on provenance will put more pressure than ever on gin producers, said Paul Miller of St Andrews-based Eden Mill.
“We are in a time now where consumers are really questioning what they buy and where it comes from,” he said, adding that “it will not be enough for distilleries to make bold statements about their offering; they will need to be able to provide that grain to glass story to encourage consumers to explore the brand”.
Gin’s future could follow a similar path to whisky, reckons Rankin of Crafty Distillery, who said, “the vast array of gin appreciators will want to get out there to discover the distilleries where their favourite tipple is made”.
Porteous of Electric Spirit Co agreed.
“Looking forward, I think brands in the gin industry will be much more vocal about the aspects of production they’re actually doing, in line with a rise in consumer awareness and interest in the production process,” he said.
While it’s tricky predicting the future, Peter Dignan of Lost Loch Distillery in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, took the view that as gin is “an industry with a premium brand with a global reach”, a move “will be made to protect the industry in a similar way whisky is protected”.
Blackwoods Shetland Storm
• 50ml Blackwoods Gin
• 3 cucumber slices
• 15ml rosemary syrup
• 10ml lime juice
• 25ml tonic
• splash of soda
Method: Muddle the cucumber, rosemary syrup and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with cubed ice. Add gin and shake. Strain into a highball glass, add tonic and top with soda. Garnish with rosemary sprig and lime wedge.