10 weird ingredients that have been used in gin

With domestic sales and exports of UK gin hitting £2.2 billion and the total transformation of the category in recent years, it seems there are few things that haven’t found their way into gin…

In just 10 years, gin has been transformed from a spirit made by a handful of large distillers to a category now represented by producers of all shapes and sizes.

While many have predicted a slow-down in key markets such as the United Kingdom, the spirit continues to grow, with gin produced in the UK representing nearly three quarters of total market in the EU in 2017, according to the latest government figures.

As such, many brands have thought outside the box in order to stand-out, adding an astonishing array of unusual botanicals to their products from around the world. As was mentioned in latest gin feature in the drinks business, quirky ingredients in gin is not exactly new. Pre-Prohibition America was responsible for a series of weird and wacky ‘medicinal gins’, including Buchu Gin (a herb used in perfume and medicine) made by the likes of The Bouvier Speciality Company and Friedenwald, or asparagus gin, by the Rothenburg Company and the Folsom Company.

What is different now, however, is the increase in the number of producers from across the world using unique botanicals from their native countries to bring something new to the market.

Take the bottles on my desk as an example, though granted, as a gin-loving drinks writer, I don’t exactly represent the typical supermarket shelf. Sitting in front of me now are a bottle of Danish gin made from botanicals including seaweed and saltwort (a plant that grows in salt marshes); a Brazilian gin using pitanga or Brazilian cherry leaves, a Swedish gin that has been aged in Juniper casks and a Japanese gin that has apparently been made with “the world’s smallest satsumas and mandarins”.

Botanicals such as tea, herbs, ginger and horseradish have all been used in gin, and consumers are willing to try them. We’ve had gin that has been to the moon, gin inspired by perfumes and hybrid gins – such as Bordeaux-born winemaker François Lurton’s gin made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes or gins made with hops from the likes of Eden Mill and Tarquin’s.

There are some gins, however, that have been a surprise to even us cynics at the drinks business. Here we round up 10 of the weird and wackiest gin botanicals that have graced our front page.

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