If you love gin then there’s only one place you’re likely to be this weekend — Junipalooza London. The connoisseur’s gin event returns for it’s fifth year to mark World Gin Day over two days (9th & 10th June) at Tobacco Dock. Gin is in! Sales of the drink (which used to be referred to as Mother’s Ruin) have shot up in recent years. And, with our love for the British drink growing, distilleries have been popping up with speed. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience gins from over 60 distillers from around the world from as far afield as Australia and the US. There will be 35 exhibitors from the UK, one of which is London-based gin brand Hidden Curiosities.
Hidden Curiosities was founded by Jenny Meguro and she is one of a small number of female distillers that are making a mark in the industry. The fashion entrepreneur turned distiller has developed a small batch handcrafted artisan gin which is already stocked in Harvey Nichols. Which is amazing, considering the brand is only a year old. We were lucky enough to catch up with the busy business owner just before she jetted off to Japan for a work trip…
WTYB: Your USP is that you create small batch artisan gin. As the brand grows in popularity, how do you intend to make sure that it still stays true to its roots?
Jenny Meguro: Well, craft gins are generally small batch (hence “craft”), and the USP for Hidden Curiosities gin is that it’s a multifaceted, complex and very unique tasting gin which changes on the palate and transforms depending on how you serve it. However, I intend to keep the small batch element for as long as it’s physically possible, to maintain quality, integrity and its unique identity.
You only launched in 2017. What has been the most rude awakening since your launch?
Currently, it’s just myself involved in this business. So, I’ve realised it’s much more full on than the other business I run! Constantly lifting and moving 10kg cases of gin around everyday is physically exerting, and trying to keep up with how the business is growing means I’m working around the clock a lot of the time.
You have a background in fashion retail – namely silk cravats. In what way did that prepare you for the day-to-day responsibilities of running a gin brand?
I’ve been running Cravat Club for four years now. So, this experience of running a business by myself has helped hugely to start the Hidden Curiosities gin business. I also have a background in marketing, and a passion for craft gin, which I think has helped me too.
You use 20 botanicals as opposed to the average 14. For readers that are perhaps not gin experts (including myself ) what does that essentially mean?
Craft gins can range from just 6 (namely the most common botanicals needed to create a gin) to an abundance of botanicals — for example, there are 47 botanicals in Monkey 47 — it all depends on what you’re trying to create. After extensive research and sampling over 100 craft gins, and from living in Japan for 5 years, I developed my perfect recipe which happened to have 20 botanicals. From these carefully selected botanicals, I have created a complex yet smooth, well-balanced and full-flavoured gin, which is extremely easy to drink neat.
What is your favourite part of the process?
My favourite part is testing it on the market; introducing to individuals who haven’t tried it yet, seeing their reactions and hearing all the feedback in person. So far it’s all been overwhelmingly positive, which is always a thrill for me.
You’ve said that the best way to enjoy Hidden Curiosities is neat over ice or with a splash of Fever-Tree tonic, pink peppercorns and green cardamom. If you had to have the gin as the base of a cocktail which would it be and why?
Hidden Curiosities gin is multifaceted and full of flavour, so there’s a lot you can work with. For example, violet is one of the botanicals so it works very well as an Aviation cocktail. But, ultimately I think it’s best to let the gin shine through, so my recommended cocktail would be a simple Martini with a twist of lemon.
As a female in the drinks trade do you feel that you face challenges that a man wouldn’t?
Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t really consider being female a disadvantage or setback in the industry whatsoever. It all boils down to how you conduct yourself, how hard you work, and prove your product is worthy enough to be recognised. If you believe in what you’ve created and work hard there’s very little stopping you.
You currently run two businesses – the cravats and the gin. If you hadn’t launched the gin what do you think you’d be doing with all that free time?
I never had a huge amount of free time running Cravat Club. I’ve just had to work a great deal harder, longer hours and weekends in order to be able to do both.
I read an article listing several mistakes people make when drinking gin. One of them was to drink it with a straw and another was adding a lemon or lime slice. Are they just being “extra” or is there some truth to this?
Drinking with a straw isn’t an issue (as long as it’s an environmentally friendly one – I sell reusable copper plated ones via the online store). It’s more to do with the glass you’re using more than anything. A copa balloon glass is ideal for drinking gin with as you can take in the aroma from the botanicals used in the gin; which is a huge part of fully tasting the gin.
In regards to simply adding a lemon or lime slice to any gin, that’s completely true. Gin should be garnished in order to enhance and complement the botanicals used, so a lemon or lime slice may not suit the gin and it’s a waste not to make the most of the gin’s potential through carefully selected garnishes.
Jenny will be exhibiting at Junipalooza this weekend. If you fancy sampling Hidden Curiosities and other artisan gins then tickets can be found here: Junipalooza.
(Please note tickets or passes will not be available to purchase on the door).