World Gin Day is coming up next week (Saturday, 12 June) and 2021 looks set to be a bumper year. A global celebration of all things gin, the day is a chance for brands and gin lovers everywhere to connect through tours, tastings, cocktail-making classes and more.
With the Covid-19 pandemic likely to bring many of the day’s events online this year, it presents a great opportunity to meet gin makers and other gin fans from far-flung places from the comfort of your own home, whether you are tuning in from Melbourne, Manchester or Mumbai.
We caught up with Emma Stokes, the global coordinator of World Day Gin, to find out what we can expect this year.
Bethany Whymark (BW): When and how did World Gin Day start?
Emma Stokes (ES): World Gin Day was founded by Neil Houston in 2009, the original idea being to bring all his friends together to drink gin. Over time it grew into a global celebration of the spirit. I first got involved in 2010, and in 2013 I formally took over the organisation of the day; I set up a website so that people could list events and started the #worldginday hashtag for brands and bars to tag their activities, to bring everything together in one feed for people to follow.
The aim of the day is simple: to spread the love of gin to every corner of the globe. My role is to facilitate this – to give everyone the platform they need to be able to spread that love.
BW: How did you get involved?
ES: There’s a bar in London, Graphic, which at that time was the city’s ‘hub’ of gin. When Neil, who I’d known for a while, would visit London, we’d spend a lot of time there, often attending gin tastings hosted by different brands. On the second annual World Gin Day, in 2010, he organised for a few of us gin aficionados to meet there to talk about gin. I think we declared it the American Gin Summit at the time; we were primarily tasting new gins from the states. Over the next few years, as Neil was based in Birmingham and I in London, it made sense that I got more involved to engage the London ‘hub’ in the gin industry – whether that was talking to brands, promoting World Gin Day, trying to get people to put on events, or educating people about gin and gin brands.
BW: How big is the global footprint of World Gin Day now?
ES: It gets bigger every year! 2020 was an amazing example of this, despite everything having to move online due to Covid-19. I had a full schedule the whole World Gin Day itself; going live in interviews with people in India, Japan and Australia, and even joining in with Sipsmith master distiller Jared Brown during their 24-hour ‘great martini throw-a-thon’.
Over the years a huge number of countries all over the world have held events for World Gin Day, and there’s pockets of gin lovers you never realised existed. For example, a few years ago in the Philippines, there was a huge event where Ginebra San Miguel sponsored their local basketball team and got them to wear World Gin Day jerseys in the warm-ups for all their matches. From tiny tropical islands to big bustling cities, everyone has really embraced World Gin Day, and I think that’s because it’s such a great platform to spread love and awareness of gin.
I’ve also recruited Caroline Ashford, AKA The Gin Queen, down in Australia, as my World Gin Day ambassador. Caroline completely understands what World Gin Day is, and with Australia being a huge emerging gin market, it just made sense to get her on board to help out locally.
BW: What are the main goals of World Gin Day?
ES: To get as many people as possible celebrating, drinking and enjoying everything that’s great about the juniper spirit. For me it’s very important to create a platform that brands, bars and the industry can use to create value for their consumers and their fans. World Gin Day is open to everybody; there’s no fee to get involved, it only has to be an event for the general public and it should provide value for gin lovers and those who enjoy a gin cocktail or two.
GM: How has World Gin Day adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic?
ES: Covid-19 threw a rather large spanner into the works in 2020, in terms of getting people together in person, but it was a great opportunity to connect more consumers with brands directly. Once the industry took some events online, it didn’t matter where in the world you were – you could join a virtual tour of a gin distillery halfway across the globe. It was also many brands’ first foray into virtual events; their feedback was that they realised the value of direct connection with their consumers, and they’ve continued to do these events since. These adaptations are here to stay across many industries, and I think gin will certainly be one of them.
To find out what’s happening in your area or country for World Gin Day (12 June 2021), go to worldginday.com, and follow the #worldginday hashtag on social media to stay up to date with content, activities and events.
Emma can be found celebrating all things gin on social media @ginmonkeyuk.