One of the original pioneers of the UK gin boom, 6 O’Clock Gin is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a series of new releases, promotions and events to mark a decade of helping to lead the UK gin trend and has miraculously thrived during the current COVID-19 crisis.
The brand is owned and operated by the family-run artisan spirit company Bramley & Gage, which is based on the outskirts of Bristol, and was one of only 23 spirit distilleries in England that ten years ago, set about changing the way we drank gin and was a pioneering force behind the successful rise in popularity of the spirit.
We now find ourselves today in an era where artisanal gin is one of the UK’s most popular drinks and there are now over 440 distilleries across the UK.
6 O’clock Gin is distilled in small batches using traditional skills and only the best quality natural ingredients. It quickly became known for its carefully selected botanicals, led by juniper, precisely balanced for a refreshingly clean taste.
In the late 1980s Edward and Penny Kain looked to diversify their Devon fruit farm and started putting their surplus fruit to good use by making, bottling and selling delicious liqueurs before setting up a distilling company Bramley & Gage.
Then in 2007 Michael and Felicity took over their parents’ now thriving distillery and moved the business to Bristol. Their father, Edward, remained very much involved in the business as Master Distiller, bringing his experience and skills to the challenge of creating a new artisan gin for the premium spirits market. And as for the name? Well 6 O’clock Gin was inspired by the Kain’s long-held family tradition of indulging in the first G&T of the evening at 6 o’clock, a custom that is still enjoyed at the distillery and shared by gin-lovers around the world.
Fast forward a decade and the company is thriving, selling its gin both nationally and globally, with a particular focus on the large and lucrative US market. As well as marketing its signature London Dry Gin in its iconic Bristol-blue glass bottle, the brand has expanded its range to include its exquisitely engineered export strength Brunel Gin, as well as two fruit gins, Sloe Gin and Damson Gin. Then two years ago, 6 O’clock Gin collaborated with another Bristol business, Jekka’s Herb Farm, to create the limited edition Jekka’s Gin and more recently, the brand moved into the ready to drink market with a London Dry Gin & Tonic along with a low calorie, low alcohol version.
Two new products will be launched this year to mark the tenth anniversary. The first is Romy’s Edition Gin, which is a limited edition mango, ginger and lime flavoured gin, which will be available from June through to November. This new gin is a collaboration between 6 O’clock Gin and renowned British Indian Chef, Chef Romy Gill and is inspired by Romy’s memories of his summers spent in India.
In July, three new RTD flavours will be launched. An Exotic Orange, Damson & Ginger and Light, making the perfect accompaniment to any al fresco cocktail party, picnic or barbeque.
The anniversary will be rounded off with a number of celebrations, the fist taking place in September, when the brand will be offering a free G & T from 6pm on Friday to 6pm on Sunday in participating pubs and bars in the South West throughout the month. Gin lovers outside Bristol will get the opportunity to meet with the 6 O’clock team at over ten regional food and drink festivals and events across the country.
The distillery itself is still paving the way for new trends within the industry, while staying close to its artisanal roots. It was one of the first solar powered and energy neutral gin distilleries in the country, giving power back to the grid as well as implementing a variety of green initiatives, such as bottle refills, compostable disposables and sustainable uses of spent fruit.
Distillery tours, led by the brand’s experts, are a unique draw to the area and help contribute to Bristol’s and South West England’s tourism industry. For more information on the distillery and its artisan gins, please visit www.6oclockgin.com
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Bramley & Gage