Gin’s the thing

‘Mother’s ruin’ is having a moment, with soaring gin sales, especially from small producers, suggesting that the British public really does favour quality over quantity – at least some of the time – when it comes to pouring a drink.

It’s the latest stampede in the drinks’ market. These crazes, which sweep through the wine, beers and spirits aisle now and again, are rarely seen with such force in other sectors.

Just like the craze for craft beer, small gin producers are pepping up this particular sector, while the more established names associated with gin are also enjoying decent sales.

In fact the old ‘mother’s ruin’ reputation couldn’t be more wrong. Resolutely ‘on trend’, there is much to celebrate on World Gin Day this Saturday (worldginday.com).

UK sales topped £1billion for the first time last year, amounting to 40 million bottles, with 49 distilleries opening in the UK alone. There are now twice as many gin makers as there were in 2010.

Gin makers are copying craft breweries – and why not when real ale has proved to be the daddy of all drink turnarounds? While 45 years ago there were just 300 beer brands, today that number has soared to around 11,000. Championed by (mostly bearded) enthusiasts, then adopted by (mostly bearded) hipsters, beer showed that it’s possible to crack the crucial millennial market.

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Gin has also shed its fusty old image. No longer just enjoyed by the middle-aged and middle-class, gin is proving a winner in the most fashionable bars in the capital and beyond. With many young, interesting producers, with back-stories as pleasing as their products, gin fizzes with quality – perfect fodder for the Instagram generation.

And while ice and a slice still tastes good to us, new gin flavours from Gordon’s to Pinksters, gin cocktails and mouth-watering mixers are also part of the trend. Fever Tree more than doubled its profits last year, with the company’s coffers boosted by the stunning gin renaissance.

Gin is indeed the thing. For now. Maybe it’s time to start taking bets on which tipple will be the next big thing? We’ll drink to that.

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