The rise and rise of Mother's Ruin: Gin is back... and this time it’s sophisticated

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Susie Mesure on the spirit that is reinventing itself with spectacular success

It ruined mothers (and fathers) and was an early harbinger of binge-drinking Britain before falling out of favour – and flavour. But now gin is back, thanks to a crop of aromatic new concoctions fuelling the biggest gin craze since the days of William Hogarth.

New micro-distilleries are opening across Britain, in Dumbarton, Scotland, Skiddaw in the Lake District, and beyond. And old ones such as G&J Greenall are inventing "ultra-premium" new blends to cash in on the trend. Industry figures show sales at the top end of the gin market soared by as much as 145 per cent in the past 12 months.

No longer a drink just for grannies, the new concoctions are luring a younger crowd, with gin nights at specialist bars sold out weeks in advance. Julia Forte, owner of the Star at Night in Soho, which hosts the London Gin Club, said business was up by 50 per cent since she started selling only gin.

She credits Hammersmith-based Sipsmith London Dry Gin for kick-starting the trend back in 2009, when it became the first gin to be distilled in the capital for more than 200 years. Many others have followed, including a new gin this weekend from the London Distillery Company.

Warner Edwards, in Harrington, Northamptonshire, has recently joined the throng, and Christian Jensen, the distiller behind Jensen's gin, is about to open a new distillery in Bermondsey, south London, rather than contract out his distillation to the much larger Thames Distillers.

Jamie Baxter, an industry consultant whose own City of London Dry Gin debuted last month, said: "Gin was left behind by vodka but it is becoming trendy. Retailers are showing their support and stocking small-scale brands." He added: "The Government used to prefer a smaller number of larger distillers, so it wouldn't excise small stills but it relaxed its stance six years ago."

There is even a new gin museum, the Ginstitute, in Portobello Road, London, where gin buffs can learn about the ruinous amounts drunk by the 18th-century poor, and aspiring distillers can create their own fusions with combinations of botanicals, from coriander and orris, to liquorice and cassia bark. Not everything works: Jake Burger, self-styled gin instructor, pushes a glass towards me. "Sniff that, but I wouldn't taste it if I were you." I know the smell, but can't quite name it. "Worcestershire sauce. We were working on a Bloody Mary-flavoured martini, but it didn't quite work," he said.

More aromatic gins demand higher-quality mixers: a simple spritz of watered down tonic from a pub spray gun no longer suffices. New brands include 1724, made from quinine grown at 1,724m above sea level, Fentimans and Fever Tree, although Mr Burger said Waitrose own-brand was a perfect, and cheaper, substitute.

Although overall gin sales were roughly flat last year, figures from market analysts at Industry Wine and Spirit Research show volumes of premium gin grew by 43 per cent in the UK in 2011 to 487,000 cases – each containing 12 bottles, or 9 litres of the spirit.

Ian Hart, who ships his Sacred Gin to 14 countries, including Japan and China, saw sales soar by 250 per cent in the last 12 months. He credited the trend for locally made food and drink with helping to increase demand. "It's nice for people to have something produced locally," he added.

Suggested Topics
News
news
Voices
voicesThe Ukip leader on why he's done nothing illegal
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
artYouth club owner says mural is 'gift from the sky' so he can prevent closure of venue
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

    Sports coaching volunteer jobs

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...

    Turtle Nesting and Coral Reef Conservation in Borneo

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...

    Elephant research project in Namibia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...

    Day In a Page

    Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
    The pain of IVF

    The pain of IVF

    As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
    Supersize art

    Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

    The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
    James Dean: Back on the big screen

    James Dean: Back on the big screen

    As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
    Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

    How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

    More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
    10 best activity books for children

    10 best activity books for children

    Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
    Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

    Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

    Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
    Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

    Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

    Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
    Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

    Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

    With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
    Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

    NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

    Politicians urged to find radical solution
    Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

    Ukraine crisis

    How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

    The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

    A history of the First World War in 100 moments
    Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

    New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

    Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
    Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

    Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

    Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?