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Gintrification: the hipster drink of choice

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A gin craze has been sweeping the UK and has become decidedly upmarket.

Charles Dickens said of the 19th century habit; “Gin-drinking is a great vice in England, but wretchedness and dirt are a greater; and until you improve the homes of the poor, or persuade a half-famished wretch not to seek relief in the temporary oblivion of his own misery, with the pittance, which divided among his family would furnish a morsel of bread for each, gin-shops will increase in number and splendour.”

Well, we have gone some way toward one and a long way toward the other as almost 200 hundred years later, hipster craft cocktail connoisseurs are the talk of town and we are imbibing it in every conceivable variation.

Sales are Up

Sales of gin have hit a record high in Britain, with the Wine and Spirit Trade Association announcing that in 2017 we consumed 51million bottles; 27 per cent higher than the previous year.

The 1751 Gin Act, introduced to deter backstreet distilling during the ‘Gin Craze’, when Daniel Defoe commented: "The Distillers have found out a way to hit the palate of the Poor, by their new fashion'd compound Waters called Geneva, so that the common People seem not to value the French-brandy as usual, and even not to desire it".

Hogarth’s, Gin Lane captured the urban desolation of streets overrun by a gin-soaked working class.

But gin is no longer seen as the ruin of the working class as depicted by Hogarth, Dickens and others, as gin became the fore-runner of the resurgence of cocktails in the mid-Noughties.

A Modern Craze 

Gin authority and co-founder of the Gin Foundry, Olivier Ward, says that the modern craze has actually been a decade in the making. “There was obviously a massive boom last year: there was a 27 per cent rise in sales,” Ward says. “But sales have been growing in double digits for some time.” 

This was itself brought about through aggressive and innovative marketing and investment from big players Diageo and Pernod with their Tanqueray and Beefeater brand extensions; Tanqueray No Ten and Beefeater 24, in addition to the launch of Hendrick’s in 1999 paving the way for artisanal brands to establish themselves.

While the 18th-century ‘gin craze’ was led by desperation, nowadays millennials are looking for a sophisticated product.

“People want something that imbues a sense of local provenance and gin does that.”

To celebrate National Gin Day 2018, check out Hops & Barley's latest selections. From London dry to Old Tom, Navy Strength to Sloe, we're sure to have a gin for you.

And make sure you check our posts this weeke for some great tips, content and everything you need to know about gin.

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