The Drinks Roadshow hit Edinburgh last week – bringing a free trade tasting and networking event to Checkpoint, Bristo Place.
It was a great chance to mix with the industry and sample a neat range of wines, craft beers and premium spirits. This included some of the newest Scottish gins making their mark in the market from Edinburgh’s Ian Macleod to Porter’s Gin in Aberdeen and Makar Glasgow Gin to Strathearn from Perthshire.
As a gin fan and a comms professional, I really enjoyed hearing about their products – all had an interesting story to share around how their gin was brought to life. And, clearly they all have a secret botanical recipe behind their unique flavours and character.
A gin masterclass with the Gin Foundry’s Olivier Ward on the day helped lift my knowledge in this area too. Thanks to his accomplished expertise on the Juniper based nectar and his innovative Tasting Wheel – he had my fellow Stripe and I tasting gin like a pro. Post-sesh we could decipher the nutty from the herbaceous and wax lyrical to all about locating the botanical notes.
It also opened my palate to the realisation that I don’t always have to drown my gin in Fever Tree or Fentimans – just a splash or on the rocks will often do nicely. Strathearn’s Oaked Highland Gin in particular stood out here – described as being ‘whisky meets gin’ it’s a great after dinner affair. While Makar Glasgow Gin’s simple serving suggestion of adding a slice of chilli with tonic was, for me, the perfect combination.
After a lot of debate, tasting and discussion, what I left feeling most excited about was the realisation that the ‘Gin revival’ is not showing any signs of slowing down. Gin now contributes £1.6bn to the UK economy – with seventy per cent of this being produced here in Scotland. What’s more, it seems we’ve become a nation of gin drinkers – apparently we drank a million litres of gin in Scotland last year with Edinburgh drinking more than any other city!
A recent Mintel report has also shown that it’s younger consumers who are really starting to drive growth in this category. More than two in five (42%) Brits aged 18-34 had drunk gin last year compared with 27% of over-45s.
The younger audience aren’t just drinking it either – some are having a go at crafting it too. It’s three friends from up North that are behind Porter’s Gin. The entrepreneurial trio became the first to start distilling gin in Aberdeen for 100 years, after collaborating with the UK’s oldest distillers G&J to bring their premium gin to the market. While Luke Smith, a distiller for Poetic License – a Sunderland based gin – told us how he started distilling gin in his kitchen before venturing into crafting it for a living.
With so much passion behind the craft, it’s easy to see why there are so many exciting gins being produced right across the country. While the gin bubble isn’t ready to pop, it seems like a week doesn’t go by without another new launch to market.
For gin fans everywhere, this makes for an exciting time. But for the ever-growing range of artisan and craft brands it simply means more competition in an already busy marketplace. Working hard to achieve standout and gain an edge while staying true to their craft nature will therefore be key to maintaining growth and driving sales. The versatility of this spirit and its appeal to a broad range of audiences presents a huge opportunity however, to drive even more ‘gin-novation’ and forge a strong brand image that really connects with consumers.
Check out this Scottish Ginfographic map from 5pm.co.uk too – a worthy road trip, I reckon.