How can this time be upon me so soon? I’m sure it was only a week or so ago that I was frantically ensuring all my data was on the system, support plans were up to date and lunch boxes had all been taken home. I know us teachers have fabulously long summer breaks, but just one more week surely wouldn’t do anyone any harm, I not ready to go back yet…just one more week? Pretty please?
My summer has been GINcredible, and it seemed somewhat fitting that my holiday should end the way it began, with gin. I know the middle part was largely filled with this to, usually in double measures and the occasional Spanish free-pour. The Ginpourium Gin Fight marked the first weekend of summer and a visit to Gin Festival London was marking my penultimate summer holiday weekend. Plus, there was a bank holiday on the Monday, so this time Hubby could come and get his booze on too.
I hold my hands up now and shamefully confess, I had never been to a Gin Festival event before. Loads of my friends have been and come back telling me that I simply must go and I just never quite got round to it.
This will never happen again!
If you haven’t been to a Gin Festival event but you love gin, you lovely lot seriously need to get yourselves to one. I command you now, go to their website and find an event near you! Ticket prices depend on the location, but for the London event my ticket cost a measly £18. For which I got:
- a Gin Festival Copa Balloon Glass
- a Gin Festival Explorers Guide which gives details of all the gins at the festival
- a Gin Festival Pouch, to keep my glass and goodies inside
- a Gin Festival Badge
- a Gin Festival Pen
Four and a half hours of access to over 100 different gins!!! Including entry to the sample rooms, admittance to gin workshops offered by various brands, access to the food market and a whole evening of music and dancing. What is not to love? The bars operate on a ticket system, each ticket is £5 and one ticket will get you one G&T, cocktails cost two tickets.
I would be here for days if I were to talk about all the gins I tried and as we have already established, I’m going back to work next week (actually, by the time this is published, I will have already done my first day back!) So I’ve decided to choose my two WOW gins to talk about in detail now, and I’ll be mentioning a couple of others which I’ll be posting some quick fire reviews about in my new Gin Shots area.
Hubby grabbed me from one sample stand and insisted that I simply had to try this gin, I hadn’t seen him this animated about a gin for a long time, so figured it must be good. He took me to the Tinker Gin stand where I got chatting to the gorgeous Bernadette who is not only involved with Gin Festival and Tinker gin, but also writes a fantastic blog, under the ginfluence. As I have said many a time, I love a good story, and Tinker has a great one. It was created Jym and Marie Harris who are also the founders of Gin Festival. They decided to try their hand at gin making and ‘tinkered’ around for several months, experimenting with different botanical flavours, before perfecting their recipe, a recipe which tasted too good to keep to themselves. They used crowd funding to gain capital and start production, offering different rewards depending on the level on contribution. In December 2016, less than a month after launching their appeal, they had surpassed their target and the Tinker dream became a reality.
A British gin created in a Spanish style, Tinker steps away from the traditional dry, juniper heavy flavour and towards a more modern botanical mix. Tinker’s not so secret ingredient is elderberry, which not only cuts through the slight spice of liquorice and nutmeg, but is also a natural antiviral. Yup, you heard right, Tinker gin is actually good for your health…or at least that’s what I’m going for! Tinker is a great gin, so good in fact that Hubby and I bought a bottle to take home with us that day, even before Dan’s amazing 20 minute workshop. Tinker is currently sold exclusively on the Gin Festival website, so click here if you fancy buying a bottle, believe me, you will not be disappointed.
Black Tomato Gin
I was so excited to find the Black Tomato Gin stand in the sample room, it’s a gin I’ve been wanting to try for a while now, but I never quite got round to it. A product of the Netherlands, Black Tomato Gin combines undisclosed botanicals with Sicilian grown black tomatoes and a few drops of fresh salt water from the Oosterschelde National Park. This gin is like nothing I’ve ever tried before, clear and unassuming to the eye, but bringing the sample glass to my nose I was hit by a strong smokey scent. On tasting, the gin itself felt velvety, seeming almost thicker and creamier than other gins I’ve tried. The flavours were utterly magnificent, an initial herbaceous hint, quickly followed by a beautifully sweet tomato taste. I just wanted more! Thankfully I was having a great chat with the lovely chap who was serving on the sample table, he then suggested I try
it with their recommended garnish of basil…more Black Tomato Gin, well I don’t mind if I do. We all know that basil and tomato beautifully compliment each other, it’s a pairing regularly used in cooking, and this truly was a perfect match. On World Gin Day I set myself a food challenge to eat gin in every meal, including my snacks. I cooked with pasta sauce with Gin Mare and made soup using Cruxland, both of which have strong herbaceous flavours. However this, almost savoury gin, is definitely a game changer. Black Tomato Gin is going to open up some fascinating avenues for pairing gins with food, the way many of us already do with wine and I can’t wait to see how this notion develops.
A big shout out to Charlie at Fever-Tree who put on a fantastic workshop about the history of gin and tonic, whilst promoting the Fever-Tree Aromatic and Mediterranean tonics. Similarly, the wonderful lady from Poetic License, whose workshop I only caught the end of, but her passion, enthusiasm and animation was evident just from those final few minutes! A special mention to the superb chap on the Masons Gin sample stand, who was completely on his own, standing under what felt like a greenhouse, sweating buckets, and surrounded by thirsty gin drinkers, but who took the time to talk to me about Masons Yorkshire Tea gin and Lavender gin. Lastly, a mention to the lovely Cosmo from Still on the Move, I first met Cosmo and his 1937 VW Pickup ‘Ginny’ at Ginpourium back in July. Ginny is loaded up with an Italian copper still, a plethora of spices and botanicals and is ready to distill, bottle and label your gin at any event. Cosmo and Ginny were was distilling Gin Festival gin on site throughout the event and drew quite a crowd. A personal highlight was when one lady asked him…
“What are those gin berries made of? You know, those gin berries that they put in at the end, just before they give you your gin and tonic?”
Gin shots about Skully Wasabi Gin and PJ Apple gin to follow!