Gin has seen a meteoric rise in the UK - both in terms of domestic consumption and in export value - and Scotland accounts for around 70% of the UK's gin production.
Scotland is also home to some of the world's best-selling whiskies and gins; and in the gin category this includes Hendrick's (William Grant & Sons), Gordon's and Tanqueray (both Diageo).
“With Scotland’s respected and admired reputation for producing world class whisky, there’s no reason why, over time, and with the correct management and nurturing, that Scottish gin can’t sit alongside whisky,” say the duo.
“With some analysis predicting sales of gin will outstrip the sales of whisky by 2020 [blended whisky across the UK], we see a long, happy and prosperous future for Scottish gin.”
The Gin Cooperative has named August 3, 2019, as International Gin Day: a day that will be a celebration of Scottish gin, raise its profile, and promote Scottish gin to a global audience.
‘We literally climbed mountains to capture the narrative to Scottish gin’
The Gin Cooperative was established at the beginning of 2018 by Martin and Natalie Reid, as a business that works with Scottish gin makers to tell their story and the broader story of Scottish gin.
The duo have a passion for gin – ‘gin has been our go-to drink for the last 15 years and between us we’ve tried over 800 gins from a roster of international brands’ – leading them to combine their skills in design, photography and marketing in the launch of The Gin Cooperative.
Natalie quit her job in the oil and gas industry and an intensive research period followed:"visiting gin makers and literally climbing mountains and wading through rivers to capture the perfect photo as background and narrative to the many Scottish gins".
Their site now covers 80 Scottish gin maker profiles along with more than 190 gin profiles, as well as exploring cocktails, tonics, mixers and gin bars worldwide.
But what makes Scottish gin so special?
“In Scotland we have some of the most amazing and pure water in the world that, for decades, has been a key ingredient in Scottish Whisky,” Martin told BeverageDaily.
“Scotland also has a rich and unique heritage of being seen as a market leader in the distillation of spirits. A lot of this skill and knowledge has trickled it’s way down into Scottish gin, so there’s that benchmark for producing world class spirits.
“Saying that, however, there’s lots of great people working in Scottish gin who are not from a distillation background; which has allowed them to break some of the traditions or ways that associated with gin and spirit distillation.
Domestic sales of UK gin are set to outstrip those for blended Scotch whisky by 2020, according to Euromonitor.
In 2016 sales of gin were at £1.15bn, with blended whisky at £1.25bn.
Both categories enjoyed record exports last year; with gin notably passing the £500m mark for the first time.
"A lot of the gin makers both urban and rural have close associations with the land and Mother Nature’s larder on their door step, so this too has shaped many of the Scottish gins on the market.”
Brand Scotland is a valuable asset as well: as a country renowned for its high-quality food and drink (from Scottish salmon to Scotch whisky) exported around the world.
“The one defining thing that applies to all Scottish gin makers and brands is that they are all unique and individual," said Martin.
"They all have their own stories to tell, their own unique products and no two gin makers are alike.
"From the husband and wife teams on some of the remote Scottish Islands to distillers working in industrial warehouses in the city centre of Scotland’s cities – they’re all unique and all producing some truly great Scottish spirits.”
The global stage
Strong Scottish support is an important springboard for setting gin up on the global stage, says Martin.
“Like most regional products – whether that’s by country or specifically a region of a country - there’s always a sense of loyalty and supporting local businesses.
“For many Scottish gin makers who start off, this local support helps them immensely and get off to a good start. It puts down the foundations and just as importantly enables cash flow to begin with.
“As for further afield: awareness of Scottish gin is definitely on the up with some of the best bars in the world now actively seeking new Scottish gins to try and gin makers now seeking new export opportunities.”
There are also a number of organisations who are supporting Scottish gin makers and helping raise the profile of Scottish gin, such as Scotland Food & Drink.
“I’d like to think The Gin Cooperative is playing a part in helping raise the profile of Scottish gin and it’s certainly our intention to use International Scottish Gin as a platform to tell the world the fantastic story of Scottish gin.”
International Scottish Gin Day - August 3
International Scottish Gin Day 2019 will help a global audience discover the world of Scottish Gin through a special day to raise the profile of Scottish Gin and showcase Scotland as a visitors destination.
Distilleries, bars, bottle shops and other outlets are all invited to create events around the day.
“This may include bottle shops hosting Scottish Gin tastings and meet the maker sessions, or see bars and hotels hosting events that might include food and gin pairings,” said Natalie Reid. “The possibilities are endless, and this is what we want - a complete day that celebrates the many fantastic and brilliant Scottish gins distilled here in Scotland, but also creates opportunities for businesses across Scotland and further afield to create their own International Scottish Gin Day event.
“We’re currently engaged with a variety of UK based and international stakeholders to ensure that International Scottish Gin Day 2019 has the right global reach. We will be speaking with others within the Scottish Gin community in due course to provide a collaborative approach so we can all tell the world how great Scottish Gin is, who the people are behind Scottish Gin, what are their amazing stories are and more.
“We view International Scottish Gin Day as a unique opportunity that can bring commercial benefits to the many great bars, restaurants and bottle shops not just here in Scotland but across the rest of the UK and further afield.
"We see the on-and-off trade as all playing a vital and essential role in the story of Scottish gin along with the consumer.”
Pictures: getty/gmvodz, getty/swenstroop, getty/kimsteele