IT MAY HAVE TAKEN more than 10 years but it’s fair to say that gin has at last shaken off its old fuddy-duddy ‘gin and jag’ image and has not only emerged as the preferred white spirit among the top mixing fraternity in über watering holes around the world, but is finding favour with a growing band of trendy “young things” – aka consumers.
The reasons are two-fold. There are more and more gins coming on to the market, their arrival stirring up interest among both trade and consumer, while gin’s labyrinth of botanicals makes it a great tapestry of taste for the mixologist to ply his trade on.
“Without doubt the key surge in the interest around the topic of gin in recent years has produced a ‘reawakening’ to the complexity and depth that a product like gin can bring to spirits in general,” says Lewis Johnstone, Hayman’s director of international sales. “But it is quite clear that this [reawakening] has been and is being driven by core historical gin strongholds.”
These are, of course, the US, Spain and the UK, and it’s interesting to note that consumption patterns are very different in these top stamping grounds.
Cocktails, led by the Martini, predominate Stateside while in Spain it is estimated that the G&T – or Gin Tonica – accounts for 80% of gin consumption. As for the UK, it’s a goodly mix of the two, but it has to said that the G&T – that most simple of ‘cocktails’ – is coming to the fore big time.
“I think the G&T will continue to account for the majority of sales in the category,” says Johnstone. “The simplicity of it, whether it’s ordered across a bar or whether you make it at home, has endless appeal.
“There can be few drinks such as a G&T that enhance the moment or the mood and bring a super satisfaction at the point of tasting.”
Much of the renewed interest in the G&T is not only being driven by the flood of new gins on to the market but also the improved quality of tonics and the range of flavoured tonics which are now available. Indeed the question about which tonic is being raised more and more, and companies both large and small are beginning to produce numerous tonic flavours.
“As consumers and trade alike begin to grapple with these offerings then it really will continue to expand on the creativity and theatre around the selection of what goes with your favourite gin,” says Johnstone.
It’s already apparent in Spain where a Gin Tonica is very different to any other G&T in the world. Indeed the Spanish take the drink to a new art form, treating it as the king of cocktails. A typical bar will list well over 100 gins, many, many, tonics and boast veritable forests and fruit gardens when it comes to accoutrements – today a slice of lime or tonic is just not sufficient.