Kathryn Nicholson from the Asda Innovations team blogs about the growing trend for craft gin – and why it's an ideal festive flavour...


As part of the Innovations team at Asda I’m responsible for identifying food trends that will really excite our customers. This Christmas we know gin is a big trend. It’s in everything!

I’ve worked with teams across Asda to bring the gin trend to life for our customers – like our delicious Extra Special Gin and Sloe Gin Chocolate Truffles that you may have seen in our Christmas ad. Liquor chocolates always go down well at Christmas.

We've seen a trend emerge in the confectionary market for more adult sweets like Prosecco Jellies, so we’ve created Sloe Gin Jellies. And on the savoury side we've added a sloe gin glaze on our Extra Special Ham Joint as it gives a really special twist to the product for Christmas.

The gin trend has been building in the UK over the last five or six years. The number of distilleries has more than doubled from 135 in 2010 to nearly 300 today.

There are a few reasons why I think it’s grown so quickly. Firstly we’ve seen a trend for local produce with people wanting to experience food and drink from the place where they live.

Gin is quintessentially British and we’ve seen a big trend in people wanting to buy British food and drink. In the innovations team we’ll often look to the US and take influences from New York and LA but the gin trend is different because it originated here. Often with food trends we draw on non-edible consumer trends, and natural botanicals is something we’ve seen in fragrances too.

When you’re making craft gin the alcohol is distilled with the botanicals so that all the essential oils go into the gin. That’s why you can tailor it to a certain place and play around with flavour profiles. For example, there’s a gin on the Isle of Harris that’s made with sea kelp.

A new trend coming up is from countries that haven’t produced gin before. Just as we saw New World wines we’re now starting to see New World gins from places like Australia, where they've also started blending wine with gin.

More and more people are getting into gin geekery! We’re seeing “sipping gins” as a trend – people enjoying less alcohol but better quality so that when they do drink they want it to be really good. Sipping gins are developed to enjoy neat. You can be an expert in your own home and enjoy reading tasting notes as you sip.

It’s not just G&Ts any more – we’ve seen a revival in gin cocktails and in our Christmas range at Asda we’ve also got a mulled gin kit. Hot gin ties in with Christmas and the idea of mulled wine. It’s come from the German markets, looking at continental Alpine apres ski drinks and marrying that with the gin trend. You warm cranberry juice with the mulled spice kit and add the gin before drinking.

Gin can be something that divides people, but if you don’t like gin and tonic it might be the tonic you don’t like not the gin! One of the trends we’ve also seen is around the tonic element. We’ve seen a lot of new flavours appearing in tonics – flavoured with different fruits. Matching the right tonic to the right gin is another huge area – there are so many different tonics available now.

The craft movement is all about producing things locally with better ingredients and more expertise. And because of the move to reduce alcohol consumption the craft tonic fulfils two functions – you can also enjoy it as a soft drink on its own in a glass with all the special garnishes and ice and it feels more of a special drink.

This Christmas I’ll be with family. We always stay at Mum and Dad’s house and my husband’s parents come and stay too. My husband and I always do Christmas Eve dinner which is usually a big ham. This year I’ll definitely be doing a gin glaze! And I’ve already been talking to Mum about doing a range of gin cocktails.

My favourite way to enjoy gin at the moment is to add a wedge of pink grapefruit and two or three star anise – and of course lots of ice. My favourite is the Extra Special Triple Distilled Gin. Christmas is all about trying new things and I really want to push the boat out and have something a bit special.

Find our great range of gins here.