With the Gin Festival in Nottingham returning this weekend, the quintessentially British spirit continues to rise in popularity with dedicated bars and distilleries popping up across the city.
The value of gin sales has increased significantly in recent years, hitting £1.07bn in 2016 and is expected to rise to £1.37bn by 2020.
According to accountancy group UHY Hacker Young, it is in large part due to the sudden popularity of artisan gin – something that was a relatively unknown product five years ago.
Partner at the firm’s Nottingham office, James Simmonds, said: “Gin in particular has become a staple drink for many younger drinkers and new distillers are taking advantage of this. The gin-naissance shows no signed of abating, with the industry going from strength to strength.
“Five years ago, artisan gin was a relatively unknown product, but now it’s very common to see five or 10 different premium gins on the menu or on a supermarket shelf. Premium gins often retail at around £30 a bottle, making it a high-margin industry.
“The independent food and drink scene in Nottingham is absolutely thriving, which echoes what we are seeing in the alcohol industry. The quality of these artisan products – and those independent bars and restaurants popping up across the city – is streets ahead of their big brand competitors.
“In Nottingham, we are really celebrating independent producers. The inception of events like the Gin Festival and Nottingham Loves Cocktails as well as the ever-popular beer festival is indicative of the move towards more local, independent brands.
“It is no wonder the global drinks giants are worried, and this is why we have seen many acquisitions during the last year. The best way to deal with the competition is seen to be by getting out the cheque book and buying them.”
The Gin Festival in Nottingham returns to the city this weekend for the third time (Saturday 25 November and Sunday, 26 November) after a successful first event last year.
The festival – taking place at the Nottingham Conference Centre, in Burton Street – has been so popular, organisers have had to release more tickets to meet demand.
Festival co-founder Jym Harris said: “Our last couple of festivals were extremely successful and the demand for tickets for our April event was massive – we had thousands of people on the waiting list so we thought it would only make sense to return again for the second time this year.
“Gin as a spirit lends itself to creativity. Using juniper as a main flavour or base, the distiller can then utilise a whole host of different botanicals and flavours to craft a truly unique spirit. This variety of flavours means that, as a spirit, there are so many options available and there is something for every palate.”
Redsmith Distillery, based in Sneinton Market, opened in May 2016 and produces around 200 bottles of its London Dry Gin per week. Its second creation, a pink gin made of pomegranate and sumac, is set to be all the rage this Christmas.
It was the first gin producer to open in the city since the last working distillery closed in the 1860s. Wayne Asher decided to self-build his tiny set up and bring the process back to the county.
Mr Asher, of West Bridgford, said: “There were already distilleries making gin in Leicestershire and Yorkshire but there hadn’t been one in Nottinghamshire for more than a century so there was a gap in the market, especially with the rise in popularity of gin.
“Gin is exploding at the moment and I think it’s mainly because there are so many producers making a diverse range of products. For a long time, gin production had been carried out by a few very large companies with little change to their expressions. But now customers have a huge choice available and are keen to try something new.”