The science of alcohol
The science of alcohol

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The science of alcohol

7 The future of distillation and the gin industry

In this final video from the Cotswold Distillery, Sarah MacLellan talks about the development of the gin industry and where the future of distilling may be heading.

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I think the reason that gin is so popular just now is mainly to do with the repeal in the law. So back in the 1700s, there was massive gin craze, which saw a lot of people making gin at home, in their bathtubs, from very horrible raw material and that sort of thing, and a lot of people basically making poisonous products. So they introduced a minimum still size, which meant that only industrial stills could be used, instead of very small stills. So that law was repealed in 2009, and I think mainly that has caused the resurgence in the gin popularity. The law in terms of getting licencing, as well, has also changed. It's a lot easier now to get a licence to make gin, just because the raw materials are safer. It's not easy to make neutral grain alcohol. It's a very long process, and legally neutral grain alcohol has to be 96%, so you have to have a lot of equipment that's worth an awful lot of money to make that. And it's actually cheaper to buy it in, so here we buy in. Most craft producers will buy it in, it's very rare for them to make themselves. There's definitely been a move away from industrial produced gin. Obviously it is still largely produced by industry and large industry, but there's been a shift towards artisan gins being produced here in the UK. There's over 300 gin distilleries here in the UK now, which is incredible. And I think that there's a lot more scope for people with, you know, maybe zany ideas to come up with very novel gins. And I think that the move towards quality rather than quantity has really shifted people's idea of the industry in general, and what can be produced. So I think that the gin industry now is very driven by consumers and what the consumer wants, but also the massive variety in gins there are now. Gin has become so popular just due to the amount of wacky flavours and crazy ideas that all these amazing craft producers have here in the UK. Everyone is pitting for the post, they're wanting to make the next best gin, and that's great. It encourages-- we all encourage each other in the industry to make better gins. And that, therefore, drives a consumer, because there's just so much more variety. There's a gin for everyone, essentially, which is really great. That's one of the best things about the industry.
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Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
  • Thinking back to the end of Week 4 and James Clarke’s opinion on the future of the brewing industry, can you see any similarities with the gin industry here?

  • Both James Clarke from Hook Norton and Sarah MacLellan from the Cotswold Distillery agree that it is consumer demand which is driving the development of both industries. Consumers are continuously looking for novel products in a market with increasing competition between breweries and distilleries. Keeping up to date with consumer demand and changes in the market are key to remaining at the forefront of their respective industries.


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