2019 Round Up

2 January 2020

Another year comes to an end and what a year it has been. With new products and experiences launching for both Portobello Road Gin and The Distillery, it’s been an exciting time for the business despite what has been a turbulent year for the industry and Britain as a whole.

2019 has seen Portobello Road Gin grow further on an international scale and is now available in 28 countries, with fantastic partners assisting to grow the brand globally. Adding a successful launch in China this year and some exciting discussions already underway for next year, 2020 is looking bright.

In February, The Agave Sessions launched in partnership with Herradura Tequila. A masterclass in the spirits of the agave plant and a truly unique experience, celebrating both the drinks and food of Mexico. The team’s first foray into a non-gin related territory, it was a natural step for the masterminds behind the highly acclaimed Ginstitute, with the premium tequila market growing at a rapid rate. What was seen as just a spirit to shot, it has been adopted by the more discerning drinkers as a sophisticated sipper or cocktail ingredient, thanks to educational experiences such as The Agave Sessions. It has been a joy to open the spirit category up to enthusiastic imbibers and we look forward to entertaining more guests in 2020 with the wonders of the agave plant.

With categories such as fruit flavourings and ’low and no’ on a steep incline in the market, Directors Jake, Ged and Tom decided to explore Portobello Road’s potential in these developing markets and decided to enter the low category. After months of experimentation, Temperance was born. Sticking to our roots and traditional based recipes, the new lower alcohol spirit uses the same botanicals as our London Dry and is designed to be used where one might want a lower alcohol equivalent to gin. Tagged by The Spirits Business as one to watch for 2020, Temperance has an exciting time ahead as we see how the category grows.

Hot off the back of low alcohol, we decided to scale up the production of an old Distillery favourite, Celebrated Butter Gin. Joining the Portobello Road Gin range, the recipe is in fact our London Dry recipe, put back into a copper still and redistilled with 10 blocks of unsalted butter, before resting in casks for 2 weeks. Inspired by the tales of Charles Dickens: Sketches by Boz, Master Distiller, Jake Burger came up with the recipe a few years back and in a market now overrun with fruit and sugar-based gins, decided the time was nigh for something a little different. A smooth, creamy texture rather than an actual flavour of butter makes for a very pleasant gin indeed.

The third in our Local Heroes Gin Series launched in March of this year with the legendary guitarist, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. A passionate gin fan and former Notting Hill local, Mark worked with Portobello Road Gin’s co-founder, Jake F. Burger to create Local Heroes No.3, which is a bold gin that combines Portobello Road Gin’s nine signature botanicals with lime zest, fresh cucumber peel and olive oil.

Another booming market and one of only three industries significantly contributing to the UK economy is whiskey. The global whiskey market is growing at a rapid rate with the Japanese distilleries rivalling that of Scotland and Ireland, so what better time to launch an educational masterclass?

With research trips to Scotland and exploring the current formats of traditional whiskey education, the team announced ‘The Whiskey Thing’ in November of this year. The winning formula of the highly acclaimed Ginstitute experience and its continued success put the team in good stead to ensure an afternoon to remember and yet another engaging and immersive masterclass for previous visitors and those new to The Distillery.

With sessions beginning in January of 2020, the experience will demystify the category with a fresh new take, designed for everyone from established whiskey fans to those new to the spirit. Looking at the production process and history followed by a comprehensive tasting of international whiskies to help guests better understand different flavour profiles, Jake wanted to go against the grain of traditional tastings and embrace the spirit of change within the category.

A big thanks goes to our Distillery team, suppliers, accounts and customers, without whom we could not continue this exciting journey, which we have now been on for 8 years. 2020 holds lots more exciting launches and progress of which we cannot wait to share but for now, we hope you’ve had a great festive season and a very happy new year to all.