Back in August I received an invite to the launch of a new gin, Brentingby. It looked delicious, sounded delicious, there was only one problem, the launch event was being held on The Mother Figure’s birthday. I played through a number of strategies in my head about the best way of approaching this. The first and most logical thought would be to invite her along, the problem there being that she absolutely loathes gin. (Yes I know, I know, I do often wonder if we are actually related!) After much deliberation I had worked out a game plan.
Brentingby Gin is distilled in Leicestershire, only about 20 minutes from where I grew up. Brentingby Gin is the brainchild of Bruce Midgely who was born in South Africa, which is where mum spent some of her childhood growing up. (See where I’m going with this…) She will obviously think this is fate and won’t mind spending her birthday on her own.
To be honest, all I actually had to do was tell Mum that I’d been invited to the launch and she told me that I absolutely couldn’t miss it and insisted that I go.
Disaster averted, the 11th September came around pretty quickly, I donned my glad rags and headed off into London Town. The launch was being held at Wolfpack which is close to Queens Park and I met the lovely Gin a Ding Ding at the station which made me feel much better, because as I walked up I must confess I did feel a tad overdressed. Once inside and upstairs I completely relaxed. The venue was cosy and inviting and despite being amongst the first to arrive, it wasn’t at all intimidating. Another perk of arriving on time was being able to catch up with friends and having the opportunity to have a proper chat with the brains behind the drink.
Bruce Midgely comes from a background of working in oil and gas, a career which involved much time away from home and a rather hectic schedule. Deciding it was time to wind things down a bit, Bruce turned to gin. His theory was simple, if you’re not going to be the best then what’s the point in trying. Not knowing too much about gin he applied his theory of being the best, and reached out to Tom Nichol, the former master distiller for Tanqueray, for some guidance. In my mind you don’t really get much better than that! To Bruce’s absolute delight, Tom agreed to come on board and the Brentinby dream started to become a reality. Bruce talked about how he had designed and built his own 10 plate copper column still, Ayanda, and that he had in fact needed to cut a hole in his roof so that she would fit in the distillery.
“You ought to see it!”
“Well, I am actually going to be back home in a couple of weeks…” I replied. “You gotta swing by!”…mental note to self to tap him up for this visit!!
I must confess that I did get a little over excited when I managed to have a long chat with Tom Nichol himself, and I did geek out and ask for a selfie…well, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
The launch, in my opinion, was wonderful. There was a real buzz about the place and the gin was absolutely beautiful. In true Tom Nichol style it features grapefruit as a botanical and you know how much I love my grapefruit. Alongside the grapefruit, sit a number of other botanicals, including hibiscus, birch, orange peel and liquorice root. Which together, create a very clean and thirst quenching drink which is juniper forward with a citrus twist. This gin made a great G&T and some mean cocktails. Bruce gave a speech, thanking everyone who had been involved and spoke of love, friendship and creating something British. Envisaging Brentingby being enjoyed at the polo, under parasols and alongside the cucumber sandwiches. Over the course of the evening I drank some utterly wonderful drinks and met some fabulous people, including Bruce’s gorgeous wife Sian. As the evening began to descend into nonsense and silliness, I grabbed my goodie bag and headed off to catch the train home.
I got home and gushed to Hubby about the gin and the venue and catching up with my Gin Girls and meeting Tom Nichol and of course about how fabulous Bruce and Sian were and how Bruce and pretty much invited us to the distillery and then went to bed.
For many people, this is where the love affair might end, but not me. Well, Bruce had said to swing by when I was up that way. So the next day I dropped him and Sian a message, saying thanks for such a great evening and to see if they were actually free the weekend we were heading up. THEY WERE!!
Brentingby Gin takes it’s name from the small village of Brentingby, where it is distilled, which is located just outside of Melton Mowbray. Having grown up in Loughborough, I still have friends in the area so manage to pop back up every now and again. Plans all firmed up I got a message from Bruce to confirm timings, it read…
“12:30 onwards suits us. 6 dogs, 5 geese, and 20 chickens await your arrival…and you can be one of the first to profile the Pink Gin.”
I was actually buzzing with excitement by the time the 2 weeks had passed and the Sunday finally arrived. The village is utterly beautiful and Bruce and Sian’s home is stunning. The distillery operates out of a smaller building on their grounds, but the house itself is a 14th Century church, complete with a tower.
When we arrived, we were indeed greeted by the 6 dogs and 20 chickens…and the ducks, and of course Bruce, who proudly showed us into the distillery.
A beautiful hand made, wooden bar sits at the front, with Ayanda standing resolute behind. Bruce was in the process of trying to bottle up a rather large order, so the distillery was awash with the stunning Brentingby copper bottles and on top of the bar sat an Erlenmeyer flask of beautiful pink liquid. Ever the perfect host, Bruce offered us both a gin, we were both really keen to see what Hubby thought as he hadn’t tried it before. Hubby and I have very different tastes when it comes to our preferred gins, he tends to like ones which are more juniper forward, while I prefer more citrus or floral flavours, generally grapefruit unites us, so I anticipated that Brentingby would be well received. I wasn’t wrong, Hubby absolutely loved the gin and immediately started asking Bruce a million questions, ones which I had pretty much already asked at the launch night.
While the boys were talking, my eyes were firmly on the pink, which I was desperate to try. In order to distract myself I took a little wander around to have a look at the set up…and check out the hole in the ceiling.
Nope, completely unable to wait any longer I headed back to my stool at the bar and picked up the flask of pink goodness. The Brentingby Pink features rooibos and baobab and I was desperate to try some. Bruce immediately grabbed a couple of glasses and told us that he was going to say nothing, just let us try and wait for our opinions. Hubby absolutely loved the stuff neat, a really rich start with a touch of floral and then some sweetness to finish, the sweet actually took him quite by surprise as the hit came right at the very end and he made lots of “pow-ing” and “wow-ing” noises. I preferred mine with just a splash of tonic to open up all the flavours a little more. Refreshing and lightly floral with a classic juniper feel. In my opinion not your stereotypical pink gin, which I often find to be very heavy on either sweet, floral or berry. Bruce had a little chuckle and said that our feedback was pretty much the split he had found so far, with many women having a similar reaction to me, while men reacted similarly to Hubby. Whichever way you choose to enjoy it, Brentingby Pink is a fabulous addition to the Brentingby family, which is still growing…
We had discussions about the Brentingby black bottle and what might be going into that and Hubby also took the opportunity to try some other Brentingby offerings, of which we were sworn to secrecy and can’t yet talk about! After Sian arrived home, we’d had a catch up, Juniper had herded some geese and Bruce and Hubby had ignited a bromance, it was sadly time to leave.
The future is certainly looking bright for Brentingby Gin, the order they were filling when we were at the distillery was for Harvey Nichols and they are also already being stocked in bars across London, including Bluebird and The Oliver Conquest. The Brentingby Pink was launched on the 1st October, just in time for Catford Gin Festival and it’s reception so far has been excellent.
If London and Leicestershire are a little too far for you and you too want a Brentingby fix, then fear not, as it is also available online from Master of Malt.
I wish Bruce, Sian and Brentingby Gin every success, I absolutely love the stuff and cannot rate it highly enough…plus they are lovely people, and that’s got to count for something! Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your own very special gin journey.