A comprehensive round-up of all the latest news and event information from our spirit category over the past 3 months.

If members have gin news and wish to share it with other members, please let the Guild know.

June 14
The Spirits Business Gin Masters
Omitted in error from the last edition, was reference of two wins for the City of London Distillery. A Master for their Dry Gin – Super Premium and another Master for Micro-distillery (as well as a Gold medal for their sole gin).

July 14
ISWC figures released – Hendricks is top
The Spirits Business reported that IWSC figures show that Hendrick’s remains the UK’s leading super premium gin, with Caorunn appearing to have overtaken Tanqueray 10 to second place in that field.

July 14
EWG Spirits and Wine
Drinks International reports the story that EWG Spirits & Wine (producers of the G’Vine gins) has funded and recreated a gin from a recipe dating back to 1495. The recipe was discovered by Philip Duff in Amsterdam. As is the case with the G’Vine gins, this is a gin based on a grape distillate. The formal launch will be in November and will be featured in a future edition. EWG have very kindly invited Founders and Wardens of the Guild to the launch event.

July 14
Spirits and Champagne report
The Drinks Business reported that the annual spirits and Champagne report carried out by William Grant & Sons UK – formerly known as First Drinks – revealed current consumer trends and how shopper habits are changing as the country emerges from recession. The high-end on and off-trade channels are becoming increasingly important for premium spirits.

Gin is also performing well, with a wealth of new brands helping to fuel general consumer interest in the category. With premium gin growing at six and a half times the rate of mainstream gin, the opportunity remains for further growth.

July 14
Bombay Sapphire Bartender competition
Bombay Sapphire’s ‘World’s Most Imaginative Bartender’ competition drew to its conclusion. See www.bombaysapphire.com/imaginativerbartender for details of the finalists and the winner, Remy Savage from Little Red Door in France.

July 14
Strange Botanicals
The Spirits Business raised the issue of whether ‘strange botanicals’ have taken gin too far.  Under EU and US legislation, gin, distilled gin and London dry gin must be “predominantly juniper tasting”, but if taste is the only means of measuring juniper content, it is completely subjective. “It is extremely difficult to measure a gin’s juniper level,” said Desmond Payne.

The magazine queried that, with so many feisty-flavoured botanicals now in use, how far is too far when it comes to adding untraditional flavours and botanicals to gin?

“There’s no limit to what distillers can choose to incorporate, but too far is when juniper is no longer the predominant flavour,” says Martin Dawson, co-founder of Broker’s Gin, while Payne adds: “As long as there’s juniper there, which makes it gin, the thing that really matters is the balance. If the flavours work together and they’re balanced, you can use any botanical, so long as it’s decent, honest and legal.”

July 14
Sloe news day?
The Spirits Business reports sloe gin truffle ice cream made by SLOEmotion, Brymor Dairy and Hunters of Helmsley, with a vanilla base, sloe fruit ganache and crunchy dark chocolate chips.

July 14
MIXLDN Bartender Competition
Beefeater MIXLDN Global Bartender Competition 2014 is challenging bartenders to create a cocktail based on the theme “London Inspires You. You Inspire London”. Bartenders will be given the choice of using either Beefeater Dry or Beefeater 24 to create their drinks. The final will be in January 2015 with the chance to be crowned Beefeater MIXLDN Global Bartender Champion.

July 14
What makes a craft gin?
The Spirits Business reports discussion in the US as to what is a ‘craft’ product and possible abuse of the term by larger brands.  This is an interesting area of discussion.

Lance Winters, master distiller of St George Spirits, believes that an official definition which could ban such companies from marketing themselves in this way, would not be beneficial to the sector.

“Though I think consumers should be armed with scepticism, I think a putting an official, legal definition on what crafts spirits would be too limiting for the industry. Putting a binding definition on what craft is, would be like putting a binding legal definition on what art is.”

Winters believes that there should be an enforced “legal transparency” in spirits labelling, as companies “should not be able to get away with lies”.

Currently, there is no US government-enforced definition for craft spirits, yet the trade organisation the American Distilling Institute (ADI) stipulates its own industry definition, which is that, craft spirits are the products of an independently-owned distillery with maximum annual case sales of 52,000 cases, where the product is physically distilled and bottled on site. With the steady increase in UK craft distillers, no doubt this issue may become a topic here. If members have comments or thoughts on this, please let us know. The Guild is an inclusive group and is of course the natural home of Gin innovation, including new start-ups and craft distillers and craft distilled gin.

July 14
Small-batch gin claims to be world’s only gin using English Junipers
The Spirits Business reports a new small batch gin claiming to be the “world’s only” gin infused with English juniper berries is working to create a sustainable population of juniper in Surrey. Becketts Gin is made using handpicked juniper berries from Box Hill in Surrey and mint grown in Kingston-upon-Thames, as well as a range of other botanicals including Moroccan lime and Spanish orange peel. Since Box Hill is owned by the National Trust, Becketts is undertaking a long-term project in partnership with the Forestry Commission to create a new sustainable population of juniper

August 14
Gin Garden at Kew
Drinks International reports that Maxxium UK, distributor of Berry Bros. & Rudd’s No. 3 London Dry Gin, to highlight No.3 Gin’s summer residency with ‘The Gin Garden’ at Kew, issued a challenge to devise “an English garden twist” to create a fresh take on Jerry Thomas’ classic ‘Gin Cocktail’.

August 14
Humphrey Bogart’s Real English Gin
Harpers’ reports Humphrey Bogart’s Real English Gin set for US launch. “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” said Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in the film Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart’s Real English Gin is launching in the USA next month and will be produced as a collaboration between Rok Drinks and the Humphrey Bogart Estate.

August 14
New Gin and Rose Lemonade from Fentiman’s
The Spirit Business reports Bloom gin has worked with upmarket UK soft drinks producer Fentiman’s to add a pre-mixed gin & rose lemonade offering to its range. It follows on from the earlier creation of Bloom gin & Fentiman’s tonic, which launched in the UK on- and off-trade back in 2012.

August 14
Limited Edition Rhubarb Gin
The Spirit Business and the Drinks Business report that Warner Edwards Distillery is releasing a limited edition rhubarb gin this September, using a rhubarb variety originally grown in Queen Victoria’s garden.

August 14
New Shetlands based Gin distillery
The Drinks Business reports that UK’s newest gin distillery, which claimed at the time to be the most northerly on mainland Britain, is due to begin production (but see below for gin news from the Shetlands). Dunnet Bay Distillers has been set up on Scotland’s Caithness coast near Thurso by Martin and Claire Murray. Rock Rose gin features juniper and an assortment of locally derived botanicals, including the rock rose from which the brand takes its name, sea buckthorn, rowan berries and blaeberries.

August 14
Largest selection of Gins in a pub
The Drinks Business reports that the Old Bell Inn in Saddleworth, has scooped the Guinness World Record for stocking the largest variety of gin for its back bar of 404 different gins from Hendrick’s and Bloom Gin to the famous bespoke ant-flavoured gin created by Copenhagen restaurant, Noma and The Cambridge Distillery.

August 14
New Gin Distillery in Durham
The Spirit Business reports on Durham’s first distillery since the Tudor era – recently opened by a former NHS executive, producers of Durham Gin.

August 14
New Shetland Distiiery names gin
The Drinks Report reports that Shetland distillery has launched Shetland Reel Gin, using botanicals that include an apple-mint specially grown on the island of Unst.

August 14
First new Lake District distillery for more than 100 years
The Spirit Business reports that the first distillery to be built in the UK’s Lake District in more than a century, is set to release a new gin to join its British blended whisky. The Lakes Gin is the only gin to be distilled in Cumbria, the UK’s Lake District

August 14
New award for Two Birds
Two Birds gin won a prestigious gin award in China.

August 14
New Connonball Navy strength Gin from Spencerfield
Spencerfield Spirit Company has launched the first batch of its Cannonball Navy Strength Gin, the first new product to be released from its new Edinburgh Gin Distillery.

August 14
Gin to be top drink for Christmas
Both the Spirit Business and the Drinks Business report that gin is set to be the top drink at Christmas. The research, carried out by UK drinks suppliers Ben Shaws, found that those aged 35-44 are the most likely to order a spirit and mixer, while cocktails are the most popular party tipple for 18-24 year.

The findings follow recent research into the position of gin in the on-trade , with 44% of bartenders from renowned London bars saying that premium gin was the most important spirits category in their venue.

September 14
Greenall’s adds to its range for first time in 250 years
The Drinks Business reports that UK gin distiller Greenall’s has introduced the first new additions to its range for more than 250 years. Greenall’s Wild Berry and Greenall’s Sloe Gin follow moves by a number of other gin brands to build on the category’s success by expanding into flavoured expressions.