What is the history of gin in Serbia?
Gin is only now beginning to become popular due to the worldwide boom these last number of years. Serbia is traditionally a Rakia (Serbian version of Schnapps) drinking country. Hajduk Spirit is the first distillery to bring a premium craft gin to the market and is the only distillery to have created a gin exclusively from local ingredients.
What is the Serbian gin industry like now?
The industry is in its infancy but is looking to take off in the coming year. More distilleries are developing gin recipes or on the verge of releasing their product onto the market. The appearance of a gin market is due to the general world trend that has reached the inner city 24-40 year old market.
Do Serbian gins have a distinctive style?
The Hajduk Spirit London Dry Gin is unique in a couple of ways. Firstly it doesn’t include any botanicals that do not grow in Serbia, this was the first rule the founder and creator of Hajduks Spirit set out. The second is the choice of botanicals that are used don’t appear in many gins around the world. The signature botanical is wild bilberry hand picked in the south-western mountains of Serbia as well as Gentian and Yarrow, both of which are extensively used in traditional Serbian medicine.
Which Serbian gins should international gin lovers get there hands on first?
Currently on the market there is only one premium craft gin, the Hajduk Spirit London Dry Gin.
How to people like to serve gin in Serbia?
Predominantely as a G&T with either a twist of orange peel or a slice of lemon. In Belgrade a number of very good cocktail bars have appeared that do great Negronis as well as other gin-centric cocktails.
What gins from outside of Serbia are most popular there?
You can find Beefeater Gin & Gordon's Gin being used a lot as house gins while in the premium range you'll find Hendrick's Gin, The Botanist Gin, Monkey 47 Gin and the like. The range is still limited because the market is in its infancy and the gin range reflects what major importers have on their lists. In Serbia the main players are Pernod Ricard and Coca Cola. There are a few importers of other premium products but they are only just breaking into the market now.
Are there any gin events/festivals or gin bars in Serbia that you would recommend?
There are no festivals as yet but these will surely appear in the next 12 months or so. The market is there and growing rapidly. As for gin bars there is only one dedicated to gin, Leticia Gin Bar in Belgrade (Krunska 61). Other top cocktail bars that are definitely worth a visit are Bitters Bar (Kapetan Mišina 16) as well as the Sky Lounge Belgrade located on the roof of the Hilton Hotel (Kralja Milana 35)
Where do you see the Serbian gin industry going next?
It will take off in the next 12 to 48 months. The gin boom has reached Serbia’s inner city people and they are hungry to try new things. Also there is a move away from the traditional rakia and lager beer mentality that has ruled for hundreds of years. People's palates are becoming more sophisticated and so they expect more. In the liquor business existing distilleries are preparing products for the market and the growth in craft businesses is on the rise.