And so I have finally been inspired by @talkginpod to put my long considered thoughts on ‘the great gin debate’.
I have lost count of the number of times I have filled in Twitter posts and got to the 4/x post and given up and then deleted before posting. So I figured putting my thoughts down as a Blog post may mean I get to the end of my thoughts, and finally post it… Here goes…
So gin….. Well, it DOES have a formal legal definition, which I have highlighted on another page, but the key in the UK is it must be 37.5% and predominantly taste of juniper. Seems simple to me, but many debates centre on that it is a ‘woolly’ definition, open to interpretation. I can see this point of view if used in a court of law, but most people could using this definition determine if something fits the legal definition or not.
I admit I may have a slight advantage here. I have 2 adult daughters who are not gin fans, it’s not alcohol that is the issue (a collective 7 years and counting at university proved that they don’t have an allergy to it), they just don’t like the taste of juniper. Not a problem at all. But kind of handy if I think a spirit labelled as gin is flying very close to the edge of the legal definition, I just ask one of my daughter’s to try it and if they like it or don’t mind it, it’s not predominantly tasting of juniper and so in my eyes not a gin, if they hate it it is a gin. simplistic – but it works for me.
***Feb 2020 update… oldest daughter has acquired more of a taste for junipery Gins ***
This brings me on to the main subject, so there is a definition and it can be applied on the streets if not a court of law. We live in an experience economy, where it’s almost as important to be seen to be having a good time as it is to actually be having a good time. My point is selling something as gin works so well regardless of if it actually is gin because some people like to be seen to be drinking gin in large 600ml Copa glasses filled to the brim with a fantastic looking (and smelling) garnish it can be an experiential thing. Nothing wrong with that desire at all.
Calling something a Gin when it is not a gin is a deliberate ploy to assist non-gin drinkers to join in with an experience they are seeing others enjoying. The distillers know what they are doing, I even heard an interview where they said that they wanted to make a gin for non-gin drinkers.
Is the gin label that important to me? Not particularly, I find it entertaining that a number of distillers, shops, marketers and media outlets want to cover for their misdemeanour by stating that they are being innovative – but you can innovate and not call it gin. With some of the products, absolutely no Juniper can be tasted (some still taste nice they are just not juniper led).
I guess the only thing that grates on me is that distillers are not open and honest. They are making a spirit drink and they are including an element of gin in order to maximise in their profit, so many are effectively a flavoured spirit and the spirit includes a low level of gin. I get why they are doing it – just don’t think you are fooling anyone.
This is a subject that will run and run and I have other points to put forward but for the moment enjoy what you are drinking – regardless of what it is or what it is being called.