Tanqueray in the past few years rein-
forced its popularity through increased
attention to bartender training on behalf
of its classic junipery London Dry, along
with its two citrusy variants, Tanqueray
No. 10 and Tanqueray Rangpur. Beefeater
introduced Beefeater 24, notable for the
inclusion of grapefruit and tea, and two
limited-edition seasonal gins, Beefeater
Summer and Winter, and spent heavily to
build bartender loyalty to both Beefeater
and Plymouth.
All this resuscitative innovation was
sparked by the challenge coming from
the so-called New Western gins. Lower
in juniper and more citrusy, the gins run
from semi-obscure to new powerhouses
like New Amsterdam.
“Both on- and off-premise there is
opportunity for education of both the
trade and consumers,” says Guillaume
Lamy, vice president Cognac Ferrand,
owner of Citadelle Gin. “What retail store
would arrange a gin seminar ten years
ago? None that I know of. Now, we have
some retailer partners that are willing to
book a 50-seat classroom and let us present
history, distillation techniques and other
craft distiller’s secrets to gin fans who
want to know more about what is actually
happening behind the still.”
“I think all these gins help to promote
the gin category, and by attracting new
consumers within the category it a fanta-
sitic opportunity for brands like us to at-
tract new consumers,” says Nik Fordham,
newly named master distiller of Bombay
Spirits Company. “I think it’s wonder-
ful that we have these new artisanal gins
which are coming from throughout the
world. I do believe, though, that they
help to demonstrate the consistency and
quality of the more iconic brands like
Bombay Sapphire.”
Fordham hits on an important point
concerning many of the newborn Ameri-
can gins: reports of bottle and batch varia-
tions are rampant, and some reveal an
insufficient understanding of botanical
manipulation and sourcing.
Even in bars where local gins dominate,
the big brands get plenty of play. In Idaho,
the three Bardenay restaurants distill their
own vodka, gin and rum. And even though
their own gin is the biggest seller, younger
customers learning about cocktails like
to have the option to select from classic
brands for their martinis and increasingly
Negronis, says owner Kevin Settles.
But as Charlotte Voisey, portfolio
ambassador for William Grant & Sons,
points out, “People like the idea of local
and minuscule batch and craft and
artisanal, but when it comes down to it,
quality comes first.”
So, what do the big gins do to compete
in a market where the attention of mix-
ologists is key to any gin’s success? Mostly
keep hustling, but humbly enough to ap-
preciate that attention to the category as a
whole is likely to help their readily avail-
able brands. With bartenders steering the
bus, so to speak, big and small brands alike
can hope to impress more passengers with
gin’s versatility and flavorful distinctions
from other spirits.
Voisey says maintaining Hendrick’s
as a bartender’s gin takes consistent fo-
cus: “Lots of effort goes into relation-
ships that Hendrick’s built, and that’s
our strength.”
In the case of the recent Tanqueray Ma-
lacca re-introduction, brand owner Diageo
was responding to bartenders’ interest in
the extension for its similarity to an Old
Tom gin, slightly sweeter than classic Lon-
don dry.
“In my first few years as brand ambassa-
dor, one of the commonly asked questions
from bartenders was ‘When are you going
to bring back Malacca?’” says Tanqueray’s
Angus Winchester. But it was only when
a bartender cornered someone high up
in the company that master distiller Tom
Nicol was asked to dig into the compa-
ny’s archives and make the gin as it was
originally designed.
To satisfy their bartender friends,
Tanqueray plans to limit the 100,000 liter
supply to the on-premise. That’s not a lot
for such a worldwide brand, but if it keeps
the brand’s bartender friends happy, it will
have done its job.
| se l ec t i ons
No. 3 London Gin
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