2016 was a big year for Gin. For the first time on record, sales of the spirit surpassed £1 billion, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. Brits bought over 40 million bottles of the stuff last year - that’s the equivalent of 1.12 billion G&Ts.
Sales have grown almost a fifth in the UK’s pubs, bars and restaurants, which is more than any other spirit. But what’s more, sales in shops and supermarkets are up 13% - with more people drinking the stuff at home than ever before.
But the growth isn’t just fuelled by the UK’s taste for the good stuff. In fact, British Gin is now sold in 139 countries worldwide. Exports to America alone have increased by over 500% in the last decade.
So why is the spirit du jour so popular? With 40 new distilleries opening in the UK alone last year, it’s clear demand is high. It’s predicted that by 2020, sales are set to climb to £1.37 billion, which is big news for Scotland, which produces 70% of the UK’s Gin.
Gin is such a versatile spirit; as well as the humble G&T, it’s used in some of the world’s most popular cocktails, and now with the rise of new styles of flavoured Gin, can be sipped neat. With distilleries becoming ever-more inventive with their botanicals, there are more choices than ever for different Gin styles and flavours.
So what does 2017 have in store for Gin? Here are our predictions for Gin trends to watch over the next twelve months.
1. Sippin neat Gin has become more popular than ever
While the masses may balk at sipping neat Gin, we think it’s the future; especially for true Gin fans and flavour aficionados.
The past few years have seen distillers being more playful with their ingredients - trying everything from fruity flavourings, like William’s Pink Grapefruit Gin, to the more adventurous, like Half Hitch Gin’s tea, citrus and pepper combination.
A photo posted by YOU Magazine (@youmagsocial) onMay 14, 2016 at 10:54am PDT
It’s no coincidence that people are adding less tonic to their G&Ts, either. Gin Foundry’s annual Gin survey shows that the number of people preferring 1 part Gin to 1 part tonic has risen from 5% to 12% in just two years. Being able to taste a Gin and all of its ingredients has become more popular than ever, and we don’t think it’ll stop here.
We’re predicting the rise of ‘sipping’ Gins; heavily flavoured, smooth spirits, designed to be sipped neat or over ice.
2. The juniper still needs to be there, but should take a back seat
While a Gin’s predominant flavour should always be Juniper, there are a huge number of different styles out there. Sweeter styles like Old Tom are becoming more popular, particularly in cocktails, but it’s herbal flavoured Gin and Gin-based drinks which are currently on the rise.
For Gin producers to create a niche, they need a unique product, and with so many ways to make Gin and huge developments in the equipment used to make it (compared to when we first started mass production 150 years ago), it’s never been easier to extract unusual flavours and put them in a Gin. In 2016, we saw everything from Da Mhile Seaweed Gin, to Jinzu’s Sake infused Gin.
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3. Berries, flowers, spices and pickled fruit will garnish your G&T
Gone are the days when ice and a slice were considered the best accompaniment for your Gin and Tonic. Any bar worth its salt these days will tailor the garnish to the Gin.
While citrus fruits and herbs are commonplace, we’re predicting that as the breadth of botanicals in Gins continues to grow, to will the number of different garnishes. Think juniper berries, flowers, spices and pickled fruit.