New trends in gin include feature flavours, strawberry gin and a return to tradition, according to gin writer and educator David T Smith, who spoke at the recent Gin Guild-organised Ginposium earlier this month in Covent Garden, London.
"One of the trends I have seen in the past few months was when I was over in Spain," he explained.
"I was there for a bar show and the thing that was surprising was the amount of strawberry gin out there."
Strawberry gin, Smith said, was very popular in Spain, but hadn't made its way to the UK in any significant way.
"Here was this great trend that we haven't seen in the UK yet, it's just crazy."
Other trends he pointed out is the rise of gins featuring one particular flavour, such as Liverpool Gins' Valencia Orange gin.
Liquors such as these, the gin expert explained, feature a flavour that comes out on top without the main characteristics of the gin being overpowered.
"This is a part of the gin category that has been around for a few years and I was trying to find a good name for it. It's a gin that tastes like gin, but a particular botanical is highlighted on the bottle. I think it's more of a trend now than a few years ago."
Other distillers are trying to capture original gin flavours and characteristics, and are harking back to jenever – the liquor that modern-day gin is based on – he added.
The Cotswolds Distillery, for example, has a 1616 gin that is sympathetic to jenever, which is aged in red wine barrels.
Ageing in casks
Ageing gin in casks – whether former wine barrels, Bourbon or otherwise – is paving the way for more sipping gins, according to Smith.
"Now we're starting to see more experimentation with casks. Before it was all ex-Bourbon and now it's moving into wine and other things like that for ageing.
"I think sipping gin will continue to grow and I think the quality of it and the different types will get better."
Meanwhile, celebrity chef Valentine Warner gave a keynote speech at the Ginposium and gave his top tips on food and gin pairing.
Also, in an exclusive podcast, Smith outlined how the rise of local gin was a prime area for publicans to cash in on.
Smith’s on-trend gins:
The 41.3% ABV gin is new and claimed to be "uniquely different" to current gins on the market. According to Smith it was created as part of a competition to develop a new spirit, "which is like trying to come up with a new colour," he added.
It is named after the Jinzu River, which is lined with 1,000 cherry trees, and is infused with juniper berries, coriander and angelica. Yuzu fruit and Japanese cherry blossom are then added.
Liverpool Gins' Valencia Orange:
As already highlighted by Smith, feature flavours such as Liverpool Gins' Valencia Orange liquor could become a bigger part of the gin segment.
This gin was created when the son of the owner of the distillery married a woman from Valencia.
Coffee with McQueen:
The 42% ABV Mocha gin from McQueen forms part of a four-strong line of uniquely flavoured gins, which includes Chocolate Mint gin, Smoky Chilli gin and Sweet Citrus gin.
The Mocha variant has been designed to round off a meal and has a chocolate finish as a result of the range of botanicals used in its distillation process.
This sort of "novel" gin is also an area of rising interest for Smith, who claimed such products could occur more as brands try to make a name for themselves.