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SB Voices: Has ‘ginnovation’ gone too far?

From gin-flavoured yoghurts to gin-infused soap, the category is stirring up fevor outside of its traditional bar setting. Annie Hayes has her doubts about such so-called ‘ginnovations’.

Have we reached peak gin?

According to the WSTA’s Market Report, gin was the off-trade’s “standout performer” in the year ending 17 June 2017, with sales up by 16% to reach a whopping £687 million. Gin is big business.

It’s of no real surprise, then, that UK supermarkets are awash with all manner of gin-spiked foods. Take a trip down the isles and you’ll find gin crisps, gin-flavoured cheese, gin ice cream, gin sauce; even gin-infused Scottish smoked salmon.

The obsession doesn’t stop at food. There are gin-scented candles, gin and tonic-flavoured shower gels, juniper-infused perfumes, gin and tonic lip balms, gin-flavoured teabags.

I’m all for innovation, and – as any one of my colleagues will profess – I’m an absolute sucker for a gimmick, but there’s a line between creating something genuinely exciting and seeking to cash in on a trend by any means possible.

WSET certified spirits educator, Nick King, believes you’d have to be “some kind of god-like taster” to detect the gin flavours in many of those foods.

“They’re not necessarily very strongly flavoured – not least because if it’s in the yoghurt aisle and it’s notably alcoholic, there might be confusion at the till,” he said as part of commentary on the WSTA’s Market Report.

“As an idea, it makes perfect sense in cashing in on and appealing to those people. Gin will be around when our grandchildren are talking about it, but whether gin ice cream will be is another thing altogether.”

‘Ginnovations’ are going nowhere for the time being, but I think I’ll stick with the liquid version for now.

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