It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that gin has been loved worldwide for centuries and on Saturday June 10th gin devotees will have good reason to raise a gimlet, goblet or highball because it’s World Gin Day.
(Thank goodness it’s not a school night.)
We’re light years away from the godforsaken gin-soaked, crazed days as depicted by Hogarth in his 1751 Gin Lane satirical sketch. At that time 10 million gallons of gin were distilled in London each year, and estimates suggest that each Londoner drank 14 gallons per year – note that this figure was not limited to the over eighteens.
Today, we enjoy our G&Ts in more comfortable, cleaner and cheerful surroundings. And enjoy we do, because gin has been undergoing a renaissance for the past few years gaining renewed worldwide appreciation. Britain is leading the charge with some exceptional gin-based statistics. According to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association: exports have risen by 46% in the past five years with sales worth £2.18bn; and approximately 140 million bottles of gin made in the UK are now exported every year. Government statistic illustrate that between 2010-2015 in the UK, 174 new spirit distilleries opened; and UK gin brands have more than doubled from 31 in 2010 to more than 73 in 2016.
All of the above is underpinned by the delicious flowering of British artisanal gins that both rival and shine a light back on traditional classics. So, from the same shelf in a bar in hippish Hoxton you can savour a ‘sublimely sippable’ London Cup gin from the Sipsmith distillery established in 2009, or reach for a ‘perfectly balanced’ Tanqueray gin, originally distilled in 1830 by Charles Tanqueray. The choice available today is testimony to traditional recipes and the enthusiasm of contemporary craft distillers to reinvent them.
And where there is gin, there is always tonic. I won’t dwell on the renaissance of the tonic industry and the new generation of interesting tonics with a twist, but it’s worth pausing to consider the recent sale by Fever-Tree co-founder Charles Rolls. He sold 4.5m of his shares amounting to a 3.9% stake in Fever-Tree – the posher tonic water. As a result, Charles is £73m better off, while still retaining an 11.2% stake worth £222m in the company that is valued at £2bn. Impressive for a business that was only established in 2005.
Having digested all that, don’t you just fancy a G&T?
I wonder what’s your favourite gin (and tonic?)
While I have a shelf in my kitchen within easy reach of several, marvelous different latter-day gins, I’ll let you into a secret… Shhh…
My guilty pleasure is, just to recalibrate my palate, a Gordon’s and Schweppes.
Ice and a slice.