Part of my job involves making up new words. The world is changing rapidly, so it is helpful to find new ways to describe it. But if I have learned one thing, it is that a made-up word only works if you are using it to describe something that already exists but for which words have, historically, failed.
Collagin is not a good example of this. Yes, it is made up, but it reads more like a typographical error. Collagin is gin that contains collagen. It is the invention of two young gintrepreuners (also their word) from Oxford, whose label is called Young in Spirit (also theirs). They mix – and I quote – “beauty and booze together” to create a relatively local product, distilled in the Midlands and bottled in Lancashire. Collagen, which is meant to be good for your skin, is literally added in powdered form during the distillery process. You cannot taste it, and the alcohol does not destroy it.
Now, it is worth mentioning that while collagen is a protein that provides energy, the idea of drinking it in a gin and tonic is problematic; trying to direct collagen towards the skin with a drink is like trying to divert the Nile with a spoon. The Canadian professor Timothy Caulfield, a man who spends his time debunking beauty cons, once told me: “We are always looking for an easy fix and I think these ingestibles have intuitive appeal. If we age because our collagen is breaking down, well, perhaps eating collagen will help! But, alas, our bodies don’t work that way.”
Still, the ingestible-beauty-products industry is projected to be worth £160bn worldwide by 2022 and collagen remains something of a wellness buzzword – which is probably why Collagin secured a £50,000 investment for a 30% share of the business on Dragons’ Den earlier this month. It is now sold in John Lewis.
I mixed it with Fever-Tree tonic which, like gin, has fallen to the marketers – the world may have gone to the dogs but the posh tonic brand remains one of Britain’s best-performing companies. It tastes fine – I got notes of juniper, a bit of orange and something floral. But it was the aftertaste – a universal fear of getting old mixed with a collective desire to mask that fear by getting smashed – that really lingered in my mouth.
Until recently, I couldn’t drink gin. It was my “tequila” – we all have “a tequila” – and this was entirely my fault. In the early noughties I went to a party in a field and drank too much of it neat. I wasn’t sick, but it meant I didn’t drink gin for some time afterwards. I do now. And would probably drink this again. But not if you told me what it was.