The mass appeal of gin
Gin has taken the world by storm and shows no signs of slowing down. It seems like every week a new gin trend has taken hold: Sloe – Gin, Raspberry Gin, Gin Liqueurs, “flavoured gin” (who introduced that expression in the first case?! – all gins are flavoured), Marijuana Gin... You may be asking yourself, is this madness ever going to stop? And why is it suddenly Gin that’s so trendy rather than other spirits like Tequila or Rum?
According to the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), the gin trend won’t let up anytime soon. In 2016, 40 million bottles of gin were sold worldwide, generating £1 billion, making 2016 the year of gin. In March 2018, another all-time high was reached: roughly 55 billion bottles were sold, generating an additional £500 million.
Gin has one very important advantage that explains its current popularity – it is easy to make and carries very few restrictions. To make an excellent gin, all you need do is order a still from the internet, collect the plants, juniper and other botanicals local to you, order a Neutral Base Spirit, and get down to distilling. Other spirits, such as Tequila, can only be produced, by law, in certain regions of Mexico, from a single plant. On top of that, there are restrictions on Tequila production; only two ways of processing the Blue Agave are permitted: steaming and roasting.
The relative few restrictions on Gin production contributes to another of this spirit’s advantages – the opportunities for varying the flavours in a gin are endless. There truly is a gin for everyone.
Endless varieties of flavour may be had with gin botanicals, from warming and spicy notes, to fresh and citrusy.
The final factor in determining gin’s boom is, most certainly, marketing. Although we may not like to admit it, the media is always playing with our minds and cultural associations. Marketers of gin have carved out a niche for it. Whereas beer might seem a bit humdrum; wine, too posh; or whisky might seem too old-school; gin is the one spirit that is neither too high-brow nor too blasé. It’s no wonder gin is the most widely used spirit in cocktails, worldwide.
In addition to its versatility and flexibility (with regards to production palate, and use) the chances of a hangover with gin are pretty much non-existent. The reason for this is the relatively low amount of sugar in London Dry Gins.
Gin may not be the only spirit of choice among bartenders for long, however. Rum is equally versatile. An aged rum can be drunk neat, just like a whisky. Rum can also be mixed with juices, Ginger Ales and Beers and soft drinks. With a bit of creativity, Rum could be used in many more different ways. Why not create a different type of tonic just for Rum?
Rum cocktails are gaining in popularity, sales numbers are on the rise as well. Many distilleries have added Rum production to their portfolio as well. Most likely, Gin will not be pushed from its throne too soon. Rum could, however, be the new trend. But there’s no need to worry fellow gin-lovers, rum’s ascent might be slowed by the fact that its hangovers tend to be some of the worst.
Florian Schaefers is Lead Server at the One Square Bar (located in the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh)