Increasing numbers are studying to become distillers, delegates are told at this year’s Ginposium in London
With a continuing wave of new craft spirits coming on to the market, the number of people seeking a professional qualification in distilling is on the rise. The Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD) has seen an 80% increase in the number of candidates sitting its General Certificate in Distilling since 2010 – reaching 223 this year. Another 159 are going on to take the next stage Diploma in Distilling – a rise of 65%. This provides distillers with the knowledge to compete in an increasingly crowded spirits market, according to the IBD. Its president-elect, Professor Katherine Smart (pictured), speaking at the Gin Guild’s Ginposium in London this month, said: “We welcome the new wave of craft gin makers, who have attracted a wider consumer base and reinvigorated the category. However, it’s important that these new distillers equip themselves with the right level of technical knowledge to produce a consistently high-quality spirit.”
Katherine was one of 11 speakers at the event – now in its third year. They included leading distillers such as Joanne Moore of G&J Distillers, who spoke about the importance of alcoholic volume for gin, and Dr Anne Brock of Bermondsey Distillery who discussed the effects of different botanical fixatives on gin. Bernard Gormley and Tony Enoch of Nude Design discussed how to market a new product and the importance of bottle design, culminating in the launch of Newmarket Gin.
The Ginposium comes at a time of great investment in new distilleries such as North Star Distillery which was launched in April in Conwy in north Wales with Merywen Welsh Gin as its first product, and the new Edinburgh Gin Distillery which was opened this month in Leith by Spencerfield Spirits, under head distiller David Wilkinson. The makers of Portobello Road Gin have announced they are investing in a new distillery which will open in November in Portobello Road in west London – complete with a bar, restaurant, hotel accommodation and The Ginstitute, the blending and tasting destination that has been such a success above the Portobello Star in Portobello Road.
According to HM Revenue & Customs, the number of distilleries in the UK has doubled over the past five years, up from 117 to 233. Last year saw 49 new distilleries, an increase of 50%, which the HMRC said was mostly down to boutique gin making. To meet this demand, the IBD is increasing its range of qualifications which also include Fundamentals of Distilling designed for non-technical personnel working in the distilling industry who would benefit from background knowledge in spirits production. It has now also launched a new Master Distiller qualification, aimed at senior managers, which will see the first series of examinations in June 2017.
With all 120 delegate places sold out in advance for this year’s Ginposium (pictured below), The Gin Guild is planning to make it bigger next year. Its director general Nicholas Cook said: “The event sold out this year and we are looking into booking a larger venue next year to meet the increased demand.”