I remember a few years ago a friend and I decided to celebrate the beginning of summer in my garden with our first gin and tonic that year. I can still recall his comment after a visit to the local off-licence to get the gin. “I’m so bored of always buying the same gin and not having more than two or three choices, other than Gordon’s or Bombay etc. And anyway, they are all the same. There are more vodka and rum brands on the market than I can count, yet no-one seems to be interested in making an artisan gin. Do you think this is ever going to change?!” Of course he exaggerated a bit, there were more than three types of gin available on the market, but it’s true the gin selection in UK at that time wasn’t great.
That is all in the past now. The fashion for crafted goods kicked off some time ago, and everything from food through clothing to small furnishings is now micro-produced and sought after. The world of alcohol has caught up as well, with the current fashion for everything hand-made. We have plenty of artisan crafted beers from tiny breweries, ciders, home-made liqueurs, whiskies and vodkas from independent distilleries, cramming off-licence shelves and market stalls. Gin is no exception.
The time when choice was limited to London-style dry gin is over. Gin is fashionable, and retailers, bars and press reviews are constantly on the lookout for new types. Our off-licenses source locally produced gins from Britain and all over the world. Who had ever heard, a decade ago in UK, about American gin, Scottish or Mediterranean gin, or about gin made from grapes? Not many, I’m sure. That isn’t the case anymore.
With new places producing gin come new styles and new flavours, and with the new flavours come new ways of serving gin. Forget the old-fashioned gin and Schweppes tonic with lemon or lime – now you can have Hendricks with cucumber, Gin Mare with thyme and basil, or Coarunn with juicy apple or just ice, as I would do with G-Vine.
Here are a couple for you to try.
Gin Mare: it’s a Mediterranean style gin from Spain. Besides the classic juniper, cardamo and citrus, it’s infused with typical botanicals used in the southern European cuisine: thyme, basil, rosemary and olives, creating a unique and very fragrant gin. It’s best drunk on ice with tonic water and basil or thyme for the garnish.
Coarunn: a Scottish gin of small batch production from the Highlands, generously infused with flavours of Scotland like heather, thistle, rowan berry, dandelion and red apple. A very smooth and well made gin, best served with good tonic and slice of apple.
Aviation Gin: it’s a USA gin, Dutch in style, i.e. made from rye spirit, a bit heavier and more full bodied then classic London-dry. It’s packed full with aromas of juniper, cardamom, coriander, lavender, anise, sarsaparilla and orange peel. Drink it straight on the rocks with a slice of orange or grapefruit, or as a classic G & T.