It seems that we can’t get enough gin.
Sales are booming and while that is definitely good news for consumers, it is also good news for the Treasury.
The surge in sales of gin means we have all paid an extra £225m in duty to the country’s coffers bringing the total in duty paid spirits alone to a massive £3.38bn.
This is more than the Treasury takes on beer. Bearing in mind that three-quarters of the price of a bottle of gin is duty and goes straight to the government, they are probably celebrating the latest fashion for gin with a strong G&T at 11 Downing Street.
Julian Kaye of The Wright Wine Co. in Skipton, (01756 700886), says: “At the last count we had 322 gins, but we are moving our stock of Burgundies to another part of the shop just to make more room for gin. That means we will soon have enough space for 500 different gins.
“We have gins from around the world including Canada, France, Italy, Spain and South Africa, but we also like to make sure we have all the local gins too. With so much choice we suggest that customers find a few that they like and always have them in stock at home, but keep on trying new ones.
“Some of our customers are working through the alphabet, while others just come in and ask – what’s the latest gin?”
It is the same story at wine and spirit shops across the county. Latitude Wines has an impressive 169 gins on its shelves in The Calls in Leeds, ‘But we can source other gins if someone wants a particular one,’ said proprietor Chris Hill.
Local gins are definitely popular and Whittaker’s Gin, based in Harrogate has gathered a handful of awards and accolades since it launch just a couple of years ago. “We try to use as many ingredients as we can from the region,” said Jane Whittaker, “although we do need to source some botanicals elsewhere to get the right quality and quantity.
“The Original Gin is predominantly juniper with coriander and angelica root, with hawthorn berries, bilberries, bog myrtle and garden thyme as our signature botanicals and also fresh lemon peel.
“Our perfect serve for this gin is very simple using beautiful dark Juniper berries, lots of ice and gin and a splash of plain tonic. This gin is also delicious served with nothing but ice.”
Whittaker’s also produce Harewood gin on behalf of the Harewood Estate.
This is made in the same way as Whittaker’s Gin but using signature Harewood Estate mulberries, elderberries and pineapple. Find this at Harrogate Wine (£42.99).
Mason’s Gin, based in Bedale has a savoury, citrus flavour from botanicals such as dried orange and lemon peel, fennel and cardamom.
They also have a Lavender Gin (around £35.50, available at The Wright Wine Co. and Latitude Wines) which makes a delightful summery drink with ice and a wedge of lime.
Mason’s Dry Yorkshire Original Gin won Gold at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
One definite trend this summer is rhubarb gin and local producer Slingsby uses Yorkshire rhubarb and distils it to capture the essential flavour of rhubarb.
Try it with a ginger ale mixer for a real rhubarb and ginger experience. Find Slingsby Rhubarb Gin at Latitude in Leeds (£39.99). Warner Edwards also makes a delicious Rhubarb Gin (£37.95 The Wright Wine Co., Skipton), on its farm in Harrington, Northamptonshire. This is a terrific base for rhubarb-themed cocktails.
On the pink theme, Edgerton Pink Gin (£29.95 Wright Wine Co.) is infused with pomegranate seeds to add a distinctive flavour to the mix. This is a great base for summer cocktails.
Once you have chosen your gin then make sure you don’t drown it in poor quality tonic. I like the range from Fevertree (widely available, including major supermarkets) but Fentimans (Latitude and others) and Franklin & Sons (Latitude) are also highly recommended, especially Franklin & Sons Sicilian lemon tonic which is refreshing in its own right but goes wonderfully with a splash of gin on a hot summer day.
Under no circumstances use a sugar-free tonic in a decent gin. Artificial sweeteners always get in the way of the gin flavour and, if you are watching your waistline, offset the extra calories in the full-sugar version by avoiding the olives and crisps that will inevitably be served up with your drink.
The ingredients of a decent gin and tonic are so simple it is surprising that not all of them hit the spot. Big balloon glasses are right on trend now. I have rescued some old, rather beautiful cut glass brandy balloons which look stylish with chunks of ice, gin, tonic and a garnish.
Garnishes have also moved on from a simple slice of lemon, which I still enjoy, to lime wedges, twists of orange peel and pink grapefruit plus a whole mix of garden herbs.
A small sprig of lemon thyme lifts the aroma of a good G&T while viola flowers frozen in ice cubes turns a simple drink into a work of art.
Edgerton Pink Smash
60ml Edgerton Pink Gin
2 lime wedges
2 inches of cucumber
1 hulled strawberry
1tbsp sugar syrup
½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
Strawberries for decoration
Muddle the lime wedges, cucumber, strawberry, syrup and balsamic. Add pink gin and mix. Pour over crushed ice and stir.
50ml Warner Edwards Rhubarb Gin
10ml Lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated ginger
10ml sugar syrup
Shake all the ingredients (excluding the Prosecco) and pour into a Martini glass, top up with chilled Prosecco.
Gin Yorkshire Rose
50ml Mason’s Yorkshire gin
50ml Cointreau – try the new Blood Orange Cointreau for a tangy twist on the usual orange bitters taste
a wedge of fresh orange
a splash of sugar syrup
Garnish with a white rose petal.