Ima-gin that! Craft gin is making a major comeback… and now its heading East
Updated 20:28, 09-Nov-2019
Phil Lavelle

It's spent years nursing its own hangover and falling out of fashion, but gin is back in a big way.


The number of craft makers in the UK - and worldwide - has shot up. It seems everybody is making it or drinking it right now.

Nobody quite knows why: some have pointed to a change in the law in the UK which now allows producers to make gin in small quantities. Previously, only large amounts could be produced. Others put it down to a natural cycle: with bartenders putting it in cocktails, fueling demand and creating a snowball effect.

Either-way, the rise in gin producers has been testament to its popularity. Back in 2008, there was only one distillery in London, but as of 2018 that number had hit 24. The UK has more than 300 spread across the country.

And if you scour the shelves, you'll be spoilt for choice, with at least 100 gin brands on the market - double the number back in 2011.

"Gin is growing everywhere at the moment," explains James Hayman.  He'd know. He runs one of London's oldest craft gin makers, Haymans. The business has been passed down the family through the generations and he says they've never been busier.

Booze enthusiasts are making craft gin like never before (CREDIT: AP)

Booze enthusiasts are making craft gin like never before (CREDIT: AP)

"Business is great," he tells CGTN, adding "More and more people are actually trying it now and thinking this is a wonderful drink, so let's drink more of it. I think it really comes down to - for something to be popular, people like us.. distillers.. we really have to go and educate people and tell them how it's made and it's really returning gin back to a craft."

Indeed, the craft scene is taking off globally - especially in China, where they have a real taste for the drink. Head to the bars of Shanghai, for example, and you'll be spoilt for choice. 

But one brand stands out in particular - because it is made in China, from Chinese ingredients. Peddlers Gin is actually the product of a group of expats who fell in love with Shanghai.

Ryan McLeod, the co-founder explains:  "We are gin enthusiasts living in China. While traveling the diverse regions and understanding the exotic flavors offered and used in cooking and that from all over China, we kind of realized that there was an opportunity to create a craft gin."

Even Prince Charles can't say no to a sip of the juniperry stuff (CREDIT:AP)

Even Prince Charles can't say no to a sip of the juniperry stuff (CREDIT:AP)

"So first and foremost, we wanted to create a really high quality product that was palatable for the locals, representing the region and also for foreigners. So you can drink it straight, in cocktails and with the Shanghai angle, it was nice and exotic and diverse."

"We went on the hunt for what we thought was the perfect fit to represent this region, as a whole, as a craft gin. So we played around with a lot of different ingredients and landed on Sichuan pepper as our hero ingredient."

And so the UK - and much of the world - raises a metaphorical glass to an old favorite. But one with a whole new lease of life.