Drinks column: Ginaissance not set to slow down any time soon

The Old House, Devonshire Street Sheffield
Annual Gin Festival preview
Picture Dean Atkins
The Old House, Devonshire Street Sheffield Annual Gin Festival preview Picture Dean Atkins

You may have noticed the popularity of gin has skyrocketed in the last few years and the signs are it isn’t going to land anytime soon.

Indeed, there’s a well-known single malt distiller in Scotland who says sales of their gin, launched in 2011, are set to overtake sales of their whisky.

Gin has changed from a fuddy duddy tipple for ladies who lunch to an á la mode potation for the sophisticated and fashionable.

Part of its success could be because of the way it is served in the southern Mediterranean – in a balloon glass with lots of ice and a vast array of garnishes. Holidaymakers would then head home and create their own. Also the fact that now bartending isn’t just seen as a summer job but as a career.

This gin-aissance has produced a craft-beer type of industry all over the world - in the last year 50 new gin distilleries opened in the UK! Their artisanal approach is clearly working – if only winemaking could be seen in the same light, as winemakers a plant and tend to the vines, harvest the fruit when ripe and then make the wine.

It isn’t just acceptable to put another gin on the shelves – the contemporary tippler wants authenticity, history and to know about the people who make it.

There are a few things that might slow the revival - the first is the cost. Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible for a craft gin to compete with the prices of Gordons, Beefeater and Plymouth as the scale of production is so small. Also there is a fear that the desire to be different could mean they’re tempted to experiment with different flavours – just like the vodka trend in the 1990s. 
There are already sweet gins available, mostly marketed to people who don’t actually like the taste of gin but who want to befashionable. Thankfully the majority, and the most popular, have more interesting spicy, bitter and herbal flavours.

Over the last few years we have seen a rise in the offers of new gin. But as with our wine, we keep the right selection on Le Bon Vin’s shelves.

Only last week we welcomed a new one from Portugal which sits well with the others that we have.There’s Hobart No.4 from Tasmania from the makers of the World’s Best Whisky – and it has recently won awards. 
We also have Ireland’s only single-estate gin that uses vapour distilling to infuse the botanicals, and Sheffield’s own Sir Robin of Locksley.

Whatever you choose - don’t forget to use a good quality mixer. Grab a chilled balloon glass, fill it with ice, pour in a generous measure of your chosen gin and serve with a special garnish. Let the gin-aissance continue.