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
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Executive - Adrenalin Sports - OTE £21,000

    £19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for an exciting...

    Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

    Guru Careers: Carpenter / Maintenance Operator

    £25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...

    Day In a Page

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
    Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

    Secrets of comedy couples

    What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
    Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

    Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

    While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
    The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

    The best swimwear for men

    From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
    Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

    Mark Hix goes summer foraging

     A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
    Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

    With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

    Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
    Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

    Aaron Ramsey interview

    Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
    Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

    Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

    As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
    The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

    Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

    Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
    A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

    A Very British Coup, part two

    New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms