Here at Craft Gin Club, we’re always looking for the best bottles of gin and the most interesting craft gin distillers around. But with so many gins out there, what separates craft gin from all the rest? It’s something we get asked a lot: what’s the difference between so-called craft gin and every other kind of gin?
Well, who better to answer all your questions on this topic than our very own founders of Craft Gin Club, Jon and John? Here, they give us the low-down on exactly what makes a craft gin, whether craft gin is better than other gin, and how you can tell a craft gin from other gins.
Right: what exactly is ‘craft’ gin?
Jon: So, there is no real set definition of what craft means! For us, it’s about the real people behind the gin and the individual care and attention that goes into recipes, sourcing ingredients, production and so on. It’s about embracing and championing products that are unique and have a sense of place and provenance.
John: If you’re a Craft Gin Club member, you’ll notice how many of our gin distillers have been husband and wife duos, close-knit family teams or a few good friends who came together over their love of gin and worked really hard to hone their expertise so they could produce something magical. If you’ve read any of our Gin of the Month features, you’ll know exactly what we mean.
Jon: Basically, if you can’t put a face and name to the distiller behind your craft gin bottle, then is it truly a ‘craft’ gin?
That makes sense. So is all craft gin small-batch gin, in that case?
Jon: For many craft gin distillers, the priority in making their spirit isn’t the money – it’s a passion that they’re grateful to get to pursue every single day; and because these teams are normally quite small, it’s not uncommon for a craft gin distiller to have just a few stills and make their gin in relatively small-sized batches.
So, while craft gin and small-batch gin aren’t exactly the same thing, there’s often an overlap.
John: Right - there’s no written law or definition for what constitutes a ‘small-batch’ gin, but if your favourite distiller isn’t churning out thousands and thousands of bottles every day, there’s a good chance they qualify as a small-batch and a craft gin producer!
Why did you want to create a craft gin club (not just a gin club)? Is craft gin better than other kinds of gin?
John: One of the things that Jon and I became friends over was our shared love of incredible food and drink - both of us to love to eat and drink as well as we can! But we are also both really interested in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs. So we see Craft Gin Club as a way to combine the two passions.
Jon: That’s right. Being able to work with small producers, telling their stories and helping them build their small business was something we were very excited about. That’s what real ‘craftsmanship’ is, for us.
Is the term 'craft gin' under threat from bigger companies adopting it for mass-produced drinks? Does it matter?
Jon: It’s not so much the term "craft" that's under threat but the gin itself, as the category broadens. Some of the innovation is great, but not all of it’s good and is really stretching the definition of what we mean by gin.
John: That said, some of the new flavoured gins, like Manchester Gin’s raspberry-infused pink gin, can act as a way to introduce new drinkers to the category for the first time, and that can only be a good thing. Ultimately, drinking gin is supposed to be fun!
Agreed! If I want to try to drink craft gin where possible, what should I look for when buying my gin?
Jon: Join Craft Gin Club! (Laughter from both!) No, in all honesty, we work very hard to make sure we’re selecting only the very best craft gins and gin distilleries from the UK and around the world for our members, and the feedback we get from our Clubbers shows that people can taste the difference.
John: We’re not snobs about it - we just get a real buzz about sharing our love of amazing craft gin with others!
Read John and Jon’s top three tips for spotting a craft gin below!
What is craft gin?
The gin distillers behind the bottle are real people. A huge part of what makes a gin a craft gin are the distillers behind it!
Craft gin is often small-batch gin (but not always). Craft gin producers are often making gin out of love, even if they can only produce it in small quantities.
Craft gin emphasises craftsmanship. Craft distillers handcraft their gins, know each and every botanical that goes into the product and what purpose it serves, are passionate and innovative in the way they approach gin. If you look into a gin’s distillers and learn their stories you’ll be able to tell the difference between a bog-standard gin and a craft gin easily!