Belfast Telegraph

5 gin trends we will be seeing in Northern Ireland for 2018

You might have thought 2017 was peak gin what with pink gin, glittered bottles and even ……gin baubles. But experts say gin is set to get even bigger this year - and we’re certainly not complaining.

So to help you get ahead of the curve, we’ve chatted to some experts to find out what gin trends we can expect to be GINormous this year.

1. Regionality

Gerry White, founder of Jawbox Small Batch Gin in Newtownards thinks that provenance and heritage will be even more important this year.

He said: “I think we’ll start to see more focus return to quality and provenance messaging this year. Last year, social media helped to spur on the gin craze sharing trends from brands such as hot gin, coloured gin, over-garnished gin, glitter gin.

“This year however, messages of provenance, heritage, technique and quality ingredients will be pushed to the forefront again and consumers will start to enjoy gin in a new way - discovering different regions, methods and food-pairings.

“Irish gin was the stand out spirit last year, with exports more than trebling and the number of producers exploding to over 30.

“Similarly, regionality will become important to consumers when choosing mixers and garnishes too. Why spoil a premium gin with a sub-standard mixer or overpowering garnish? Our signature serve is a simple gin, ginger ale and lime but with ginger ale invented in Belfast and Jawbox inspired by Belfast heritage, this serve perfectly embodies quality and provenance. One of the most popular garnishes with our fans has been shards of artisan honeycomb, another nod to local  Irish producers.”

2. Simple cocktails

Jason Scott of Bramble Cocktail Bar in Edinburgh reckons gin cocktails are about to get a shake-up.

He said: “Cocktail culture is back in full swing, especially in Northern Ireland. Three out of every four drinks we serve in our bar are cocktails. With a huge selection of artisan brands and an ability to perform in both classic cocktails and signature serves, gin is our most popular spirit at the moment.

“Consumers are gradually starting to focus more on the quality of the spirit, letting it speak for itself.

"Leading cocktail venues like ours are seeking out versatile, local small-batch gins to compete with the better-known brands. We want to offer our customers cocktails with a point of difference. We notice our customers are starting to appreciate and request simplicity over theatrics.”

3. New gin styles

In response to consumer demand for simple, quality cocktails, Jason has developed Braemble Gin Liqueur along with co-owner of the bar, Mike Aikman and all-round gin-genius Craig Harper.

Aikman said: “Gin liqueurs and flavoured gin are set to stir up the market this year and we’re really excited to introduce our product to the NI market. Flavoured gins from local distilleries or gin liqueurs that use a quality gin as the base will see us still enjoying the quality gin we love, just in a new, exciting way.

“We’re confident that we’ve arrived to market right on time to impress both NI trade and consumers. With non-alcoholic and low ABV becoming increasingly important to younger drinkers, the gin category will have to respond with lower volume offerings, but maintain the quality taste and premium feeling.

“The classic Bramble is one of the most popular cocktails for gin lovers but a great tasting, strong performing liqueur is actually quite difficult to get right. The versatility and complexity of Braemble Gin Liqueur allows it to be enjoyed with just a little tonic or ginger ale but additional gin can be added for those inclined too.”

4. Mixing it up

With the sugar tax on soft drinks arriving in April, the cost of your weekend drinks could increase.

Steven Pattison, director of Drinksology which works exclusively in the alcoholic drinks industry, thinks it will change the way brands and bars will think about serves.

He said: “The tax on sugary drinks comes with two realities. The first is that consumers are growing increasingly heath conscious. The second is that soft drinks companies will respond by increasing price and possibly reducing packaging size - this will have a knock on effect, making your favourite long drink or cocktail more expensive for a bar to make.

“We have developed cocktails and signature serves for some of the world’s best-loved bars and brands including GONG Bar at The Shard, The Dead Rabbit, The Ivy, Malfy Gin and more. We understand how consumers around the world want to drink their gin, but we know that margin is everything for a bar manager. April’s tax poses a challenge for bars but with it comes an opportunity to get creative, especially with gin as it is a spirit that needs to be mixed to release its full flavour profile.

“Bars may start to make more of their own in-house mixers, both carbonated and non-carbonated so they can control the cost whilst at the same time increase appeal amongst growing health-conscious audiences. Gin brands may have to revisit their existing classic serves so they can continue to lead sector development and compete.”

5. New gin experiences

As the Irish gin category grows, we can expect more local distilleries to launch day tours, providing further edutainment opportunities for gin lovers from both home and abroad. But the experiences won’t stop there!

It’s only a matter of time before the gin-related experiences we saw pop up in London and NYC last year are re-created here.

Day spas dedicated to gin will see us enjoying botanical-inspired treatments whilst gins with beauty focused botanicals will also grow in popularity - matcha gin, collagen gin and so on.

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