Junipalooza will run from 6-8 June

Junipalooza will run from 6-8 June

It is billed as the UK's biggest gin show to date, and when the three-day Junipalooza opens on 6 June in the east end of London, some of the brightest new names in the industry will present samplings and masterclasses. just-drinks caught up with a few of the attendees to grill them on the future of gin, and whether they'd be willing to cash in on their success if the big companies came knocking.

just-drinks: What will be the next big gin market?

Tom Warner, co-founder of Warner Edwards: Belgium is just starting to boil.

Olivier & Emile Ward, Gin Foundry founders and organisers of Junipalooza: Germany. They are just starting to go nuts for it. 

Miranda Hayman, director of Hayman's Gin: Germany is becoming a vibrant gin market.

Tom Warner, co-founder of Warner Edwards

Tarquin Leadbetter, founder of Southwestern Distillery

Jon Hillgren, founder & distiller of Hernö Gin

Olivier (left) & Emile Ward, Gin Foundry founders

j-d: What lies ahead for the industry?

Tarquin Leadbetter, founder of Southwestern Distillery, which makes Tarquin’s Gin: At the premium end, I expect a continued shift away from multinational and contract-distilled brands towards local producers. While the micro gin distilling marketing will continue to grow, after a few years we will see a corresponding rise in the numbers going bust as the market saturates.

j-d: Is the gin boom real or a marketing myth?

Tom Warner: Globally, gin is the least exciting spirit category to look at because it's in decline and two-thirds of the world's consumption is in the Philippines. However, premium gin in certain markets is in double-digit growth.

Olivier & Emile: It's granular. Premium gin is booming, the rest are finding it slow.

Jamie Baxter, distiller at the East London Liquor Company: There is a boom of sorts in super premium gins, but the category as a whole is shrinking. The number of brands, though, is increasing, and I see this continuing, with many more, but much smaller brands competing happily.

Jon Hillgren, founder & distiller of Hernö Gin: It is a boom. Perhaps not in total sales, but in the way people talk, drink and enjoy gin.

Tarquin Leadbetter: The boom in the number of gin producers is very real.

j-d: Name gin's biggest obstacle

Jamie Baxter: The definition of gin stifles innovation and yet does not sufficiently protect the character of gin.

Jon Hillgren: There are a few brands launching gin that do not have juniper as a predominant taste. This effects the consumers perception on what gin is.

Tom Warner: Vodka! 

j-d: Big gin brands: friend or foe?

Tom Warner: Friends! They can’t produce the quality the small guys can but they can bring more people into the category.

Olivier & Emile: Friends. There would be no Sipsmith without Hendrick's and no Hendrick's without Bombay Sapphire. 

Jamie Baxter: Friends. There is a reason that many of these big brands have been around for such a long time - they make great products.

j-d: Would you ever sell to a big company?

Tarquin Leadbetter: If I can make a living out of it, and go surfing every day, there’ll be no need to sell!

Miranda Hayman: Why? Hayman’s Gin has not been created to sell to a big company, but because we wanted to continue our family tradition of distilling gin. And, it is a lot of fun.

Jamie Baxter: If I was offered gazillions I would probably consider it.

j-d: What has gin done wrong in the past 20 years?  

Miranda Hayman: Gin lost its provenance and excitement. The quality of serve had deteriorated, therefore the younger generation didn’t embrace the category. Fortunately, that is now changing.

Jamie Baxter: It failed to innovate.

Jon Hillgren: Perhaps it has been too conservative. On the other hand, the consumers have also been so.

Junipalooza will run from 6-8 June at London’s Shoreditch, Factory 7. For information and tickets, click here.

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