So you have all thought it. If the gin in Aldi is only 7.99 and has won awards for taste why should I bother paying over the odds for a supposed craft gin that costs me more than four times as much? And the answer is, well you shouldn’t…….if all you are after is a simple, mass produced, London dry style gin to mix with whatever takes your fancy. The cheaper stuff is what it is…..and if you like it then don’t change it, I tend to like the thinnest, cheapest wafer thin ham from the supermarket. It is certainly not the best, and it probably has no nutritional value but it’s what I like so I stick with it.
However, if you have found yourself asking the question I pose in today’s blog ‘why should I bother with a craft gin?’ it may mean you are after something different and you are fed up of the same old thing. The gin world has exploded recently and perhaps you are intrigued and want to be a part of it but before you go out and spend your hard earned cash you want to know if it’s worth the extra, what exactly are you getting?
You get what you pay for
How many times have you heard people say this? However in this case it really is true. When you pay more for a gin it’s usually because of three factors
1. The ingredients that are used
2. The processes used to make the gin
3. The talent, skill, creativity and passion of the distiller.
The easiest way to think of the difference between a cheap gin and a craft one is to compare them to sausage rolls. In Iceland you can buy 50 party sized sausage rolls for £1 but in a small bakery you would pay around double that for just one. So what’s the difference? Again it’s the ingredients used to make them, how they are made and the talent and skill of the baker. There may be a time and place for Iceland sausage rolls (kids party springs to mind!) but you wouldn’t want them all the time, you definitely wouldn’t want them for your anniversary and you certainly know you could get better!
Craft gins from small distilleries tend to use old fashioned style copper pot stills and they distill their gin in small batches. In fact you will often see the words small batch on many gins today (including the ever popular Hendriks) which tells the consumer that the gin was made in small amounts (usually around 300 bottles per batch) as opposed to being mass produced in a large column still where the process is continuous and botanicals are added as part of a non-stop distilling process. Often these small batch distilleries will spend much longer distilling their botanicals to achieve a particular depth of flavour, this is where the talent and creativity plays a part. Some distillers spend a great deal of time achieving the flavour they want. Audemus Pink Pepper gin distils each one of their botanicals separately, including pink peppercorns and Tonka bean to achieve a totally unique taste. It’s a labour of love on their part and takes five times as long as other gin producers but the end result is worth it.
The ingredients also play a part, a simple London dry gin will use, alongside juniper mainly citrus botanicals and will not state where these come from. On the flip side a craft gin may take great pride in advertising the fact that all their ingredients are locally grown, organic or specially selected from the best producers all over the world. Warner Edwards’s distillery operate from a small farm and produce all of their own ingredients from their botanical gardens and surrounding fields. Four Pillars from the Yarra Valley use water for distillation from their own natural spring and weird and wonderful ingredients like Tasmanian Mountain Pepper to achieve their small batch gin. Its little things like this that make them stand apart from your cheaper more mass produced gins. It’s the same with anything, if you want organic vegetables or locally farmed, free range meat and eggs. You pay more for it and you do because you have more of an idea where it came from and how it was made. Like I said earlier, like everyone says, you really do get what you pay for.
Stick it to the man: Support the little people.
We all like to support the underdogs in Britain so why do we sometimes forget to support them in Business. Yes there are some O.K. gins out there that will cost you less than a tenner but really you are just feeding the already rich. At times if you can it’s nice to support these smaller gin makers, these craft distillers, artists in the field. You will get more out of it in every way, you will save your soul as well as have a taste sensation. There really is some talent out there and you need to explore it. If you are going to drink, drink well. There is no point getting a hangover for something that’s mediocre. If you are going to suffer, suffer for something sublime. We have no qualms spending money on booze when we go out but for some reason when we are buying for home we pinch the pennies. Treat yourself and support the smaller distilleries, you won’t regret it. I can’t say for definite that the cheaper the booze the worse the hangover but it’s always been that way for me. It makes sense really, if the stuff they put in it is better quality it stands to reason. Yet another justification to branch out and get yourself a better quality gin.
We are a small business here at Riddles Emporium and we would love your support too. If you are still not convinced join us for one of our tasting nights to learn even more about the wonderful world of craft gin. Our next gin tasting evening falls on Saturday 19th May and tickets are available through or website www.riddlesemporium.com or you can pop in to the shop itself to book your place. We also have plenty of samples to try in the shop and our knowledgeable staff can answer almost anything you need to know about spirits and cocktails. If however we don’t have the answer or the product you are after for we will always do our very best to find it for you. We are always happy to help when it comes to finding or making the perfect drink. It’s our passion at Riddles and we love to share it.
So there you have it, my reasons for why you SHOULD bother with a craft gin and there are many more I assure you. The differences are immense and there is so much out there to try. I guarantee after trying a few new bottles you will be the one answering that original question when people ask it to you. Seriously you’ll never look back, sure you’ll still buy the cheap gin now and again, like I said there’s always a time and place for it but when you want a treat, when you want something different, that’s when we can help. Small batch, big flavour….that’s my philosophy.
Until next time, happy (and sensible) drinking!