Inventory for February 5th, 2017
Welcome friends! It’s February, let’s hope that the worst is behind us. In that vein we’ve got good news: the juniper has been added to the UK’s national seed bank which will save it from ever becoming extinct. Global gin lovers rejoice! There’s also a new gin that’s made with saffron and “more expensive than gold”, Jim McEwan return to whisky distilling at Ardnahoe, and The Guardian’s take on 2017’s drinking trends. Cheers!
What does “home” taste like? A complex question, one that the good people behind “So Schmeckt Heimat” in Bochum are aiming to answer during their two day fair. Taking place on February 5th and 6th the event will host several discussions and presentations on the topic, all centering around regionality and what being local really means. More information here.
Gin is Safe: Juniper added to National Seed Bank
Let’s all just let out a collective sigh of relief here, shall we? The future of gin is no longer in peril. The BBC reports that “The future of gin is safe, according to UK horticultural experts who have been working to conserve juniper, the spirit’s key ingredient”. Seeds will be stored in the Millennium Seed Bank in Wakehurst, Sussex by the UK National Tree Seed Project. This is in response to a recent disease that’s been threatening juniper berries.
“A deadly fungus-like organism, Phytophthora austrocedri, has been particularly damaging for the plants in Scotland, one of the main areas for juniper growth”. Storing the seed will obviously not cure the disease, but the projects managers hope that it will aid conversation and stop the juniper from falling into extinction, see it as a type of insurance policy. The project is run by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery. Over 5.8 million seeds have been banked from 6,500 UK trees since the project began in 2013. It will continue cataloguing until 2018. Juniper is the first species to be fully collected.
New Gin’s Botanical ‘more Expensive than Gold’
Speaking of gin, The Spirits Business reports that “Southwestern Distillery, producer of Tarquin’s Cornish Gin, has created a limited edition expression using Cornish-grown saffron – one of the world’s ‘rarest and most expensive’ spices”. Well la-ti-da. The Cornish Crocus Gin is infused with local saffron that’s grown by the Cornish Saffron Company in the nearby coastal village of Portscatho. “More than 20,000 individual crocus flowers are planted, harvested and the saffron stigmas plucked by hand, resulting in a spice priced at £40 per gram – more than twice the price of 24 carat gold, accruing to Southwestern”.
The distiller Tarquin Leadbetter says “The saffron adds a beautifully vibrant golden colour and depth of flavour to the gin, complemented with fragrant rose petals and exotic pistachio nuts. A fantastic very special and fantastically flavoured gin”. Necessary, or no? Thoughts appreciated!
Jim McEwan Returns to Islay whisky Distilling at Ardnahoe
Retired, reschmired! Surely, that’s what Jim McEwen is currently thinking. As per the press release, “World-renowned whisky distiller Jim McEwan has been appointed Production Director of Ardnahoe Distillery on Islay – 18 months after he retired”. The family-run Glasgow whisky company Hunter Laing & Co. is currently building the first distillery on Islay for more than a decade. Distilling is expected to start in early 2018. “As Production Director at Ardnahoe Distillery, McEwan is playing a pivotal role at the distillery for the Laing family – father Stewart and sons Andrew and Scott. From shaping its design and installing his preferred pieces of distilling equipment, to fine-tuning the production processes and selecting casks, he will influence every step of the whisky-making journey at Ardnahoe”. Many will of course know Jim from his roles at Bruichladdich and Bowmore in his previous lives. Good news for everyone!
Drinking Trends of 2017
Last week The Guardian’s cocktail writer Chad Parkhill shared his view on what we’ll be drinking in 2017, “from amari mania to a vodka revival” it’s all there. His trend predictions are as follows:
1) More amari everywhere
Parkhill says “In 2017, we can expect to see more amari make it out of Italy and on to the shelves of your local boutique liquor store, as well as brands that will relaunch and revitalise themselves”.
2) Vodka goes back to basics
I mean, it’s time for vodka to make it a comeback. Though, please don’t call it a comeback. According to Grey Goose’s global brand ambassador Joe McCanta the future of vodka lies in brands returning to their core strength of making good vodka. That means: cutting out the flim-flam (as Parkhill so nicely puts it). No more flavored vodkas, no more fake “craft” spirits. Instead, let the spirit do what it does best – make other cocktail ingredients shine.
3) Natural wine is dead – long live natural wine
Parkhill suspects that “2017 will be the year that a faddish and uncritical approach to natural wine dies, to be replaced with a longer-term embrace of natural techniques by the industry”. Music to our ears. Growing demand for orange wines and pét-nats will mean larger-scale producers who have formerly not dipped their toes into natural wine could start doing so. He suspects that “e’ll see more “natural” wines with a tiny touch of sulphites for longevity and consistency’s sake, and an embrace of orange wines that aren’t wildly cloudy in the glass”.
4) Proto- and post-tiki drinks hit the mainstream
This year, bars will hopefully start borrowing from tiki’s retro nostalgia “by serving some of the tropical drinks that came just before or after tiki – simpler concoctions that still have tiki’s fun approachability without all the hassle”. We are here for that. Tiki lite for 2017.
Foto: Photo via Shutterstock.