In the recent article Gin Time, Cheers Magazine reports on the increasing popularity of gin, attributing it to a combination of classic cocktails and the rise of New Western gins like Bluecoat, Beefeater 24 and Aviation. They have it half right. Classic cocktails are the foundation of gin’s rise in popularity. Interest in all the classics like the Negroni, Pimms Cup and, of course the martini, have all contributed to gin’s recent popularity.
However, excellent cocktails demand a flavorful gin, and the focus on New Western gins is misguided. A martini without the woodsy elegance of juniper is disappointing at the least, and evolves into flavored vodka at the worst. Juniper defines gin. Distillers can play with the botanicals around the juniper to create innovative new gins. However, the less juniper you have, the less gin you have. New Western gins can function as “starter gins” for the fearful. However, gin needs juniper and, as the article states, “juniper-forward gin brands continue to lead the gin category.”