It’s no secret that the UK gin market has become overcrowded. While reports of ‘gin fatigue’ were suggested last year, CGA’s In the Pink: Big trends in the gin market report, published last year, suggests 8.9 million people consumed gin outside their homes in the year to 18th May 2019. An increase of 2.3 million, year-on-year. The report also highlighted the fact that mainstream gin brands grew by 80 per cent over the year, as premium gin rose 24.9 per cent and super-premium brands leapt by 46.3 per cent.
While household names continue to grow, an exponential rate of premium expressions have been introduced over the past five years, making it harder for newcomers to standout. To do so, they must be genuinely exceptional. Some reports suggest consumers look for familiarity when shopping for premium gins, typically opting for classic, well-known brands, or “double trading-up” in favour of ‘super premium’ spirits. This has brought newfound demand for sipping gins which strive to prove the clear, juniper-based spirit can be as elegant and refined as high end whiskies and Cognacs – if not even more so.
Launched in 2011, with founder Jon Hillgren having developed a taste for gin on a trip to London towards the end of the 1990s, Hernö Gin Distillery was Sweden’s first dedicated gin distillery and the world’s northernmost. Operating from a site in the village of Dala, near the the City of Härnösand in Ångermanland, the artisan gin is inspired by the natural beauty of the UNESCO world heritage area, The High Coast, which is home to the distillery. Now available in 25 countries around the world, Hernö was the most awarded gin in Europe between 2012-2017, with Jon Hillgren having been inducted into the ‘Gin Hall of Fame’ in 2019. Produced with the finest botanicals, the flagship Hernö Dry Gin is joined by a range of expressions including Navy Strength Gin, Juniper Cask Gin, and Old Tom; plus a series of limited releases.
Towards the end of 2019, Hernö launched two brand new expressions: Hernö Sipping Gin #1.3 ex-Ardbeg Casks and Hernö Blackcurrant Gin. A unique project set up by Hernö, hoping to strengthen the tourism in their region and attract visitors to their corner of the world, Hernö launches a sipping series each year, featuring gin that’s cask-matured in barrels previously used to age and refine other spirits. Following the success of previous expressions aged in casks formerly used for the likes of Laphroaig, Box Sherry, and Box Whisky, the new limited release is aged in casks formerly used by Ardbeg.
On the launch of both Hernö Sipping Gin #1.3 ex-Ardbeg Casks and Hernö Blackcurrant Gin, Samantha Burke, Managing Director of Love Drinks, said: “With an incredible reputation around the world for its quality and innovation, Hernö continues to lead the way when it comes to unique craft gins that really capture the imagination of mixologists and consumers alike. Even in the face of a fierce and competitive category, Hernö goes from strength to strength so we’re excited to bring Jon’s latest creations to the UK.”
Specifically designed for savouring neat, Hernö Sipping Gin #1.3 ex-Ardbeg Casks is distilled to 49.1 per cent ABV, unfiltered and limited to just 1,904 bottles. Ideally sipped neat over ice, the gin has a clear, light straw complexion with prominent notes of juniper joined by some slight smokiness alongside elegant floral aromas, pine and trace vanilla. On the palate, the gin is remarkably smooth and relatively savoury with a creamy texture. Upfront juniper notes are accompanied by some peppery spice, pear and further peat smoke that lingers on the long, dry finish complete with a pleasant suggestion of salt. An exceptional sipping gin.
Hernö Sipping Gin #1.3 ex-Ardbeg Casks is available from Masters of Malt, The Whisky Exchange and Nickolls & Perks, RRP £87.95, 50cl.