On Friday night I went along* to the first night of Gin Festival, which was taking over Bristol’s Paintworks for three days of gin-filled fun.When it comes to spirits, gin isn’t something I have really tried before (I definitely consider myself a bit of a novice!), but I was interested to discover what all the fuss is about so called “Mother’s Ruin”.
Gin Festival was started in 2012 by husband and wife team Jym and Marie Harris. Run all over the country, with the idea of showcasing the very best in juniper-based spirits, Gin Festival is described as the original, biggest and best gin festival in the UK – not much to live up to then!
I’ve not been to a drinks festival before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, although I thought there would certainly be the chance to enjoy a sample or two. When my two friends and I arrived at the venue, we were each given a rather lovely branded copa glass (which I was informed we would need to use for all of our drinks during the evening), and a guide that detailed all of the gins available to buy on the bars, as well as the companies behind them. We were also told that we would need to buy “tokens” to use at all of the bars (priced at £5 each), and that there would be several masterclass sessions run by some of the gin producers that were present.
Needless to say, we were excited to get tasting some of the gins on offer!
The first gin I tried was Pinkster – the bright pink colour of it caught my eye straight away. Produced in Cambridge using fresh raspberries, Pinkster is a dry gin that has a soft fruity flavour and is also gluten free too! The sample was delicious, it was really smooth and easy to drink, which was perfect for a gin-newbie like me.
Another gin I hadn’t heard of before was Brockmans from Birmingham, so I decided to sample their wares next. Another fruity gin, this time created with the use of blackberries and blueberries, I loved its sweetness and I also thought the design of their bottle was pretty cool too. The sample I was given was mixed with lemon, which tasted amazing!
After enjoying the tasters I made my way to one of the bars, where I decided to order a Brockmans G&T, as I had particularly enjoyed their sample. The process involved informing the bar staff which gin took your fancy and handing over your token for them to take as “payment”. You were then served the gin of choice in your copa glass, along with garnishes including raspberries, blueberries, lemon and orange slices and mint leaves. You then simply topped up your glass with as much (or as little…) Fever-Tree Tonic as you liked, with both original and light varieties available.
After enjoying my first G&T, it was time for a masterclass. I went along to the 8:30pm session with Masons, a gin producer based in Yorkshire. Here, a lovely lady called Sophie talked about the history of gin, how Masons started and we were then offered even more samples to try – the Tea Edition (distilled with Yorkshire Tea, what else) certainly got a thumbs up from me!
My favourite gin that I tried during the evening was definitely Brockmans – I loved the taste and could totally imagine drinking a glass on a hot, sunny day. I’ll certainly be buying a bottle to enjoy at home.
Before visiting Gin Festival I was only aware of big name brands such as Gordon’s and Hendrick’s, and was surprised to see how many different varieties and flavours there were during the evening. For a newbie like myself, I found that the guide book was really helpful in finding out how to create the perfect G&T too (FYI a shot or two of gin, lots of ice, 3/4 quality tonic and a garnish, all served in a stemmed glass to keep it cold – delicious!)
I can safely say that I really enjoyed my evening at Gin Festival. It was a well run event with a good atmosphere. I also loved the photo booth, food and music that they had there too! I am happy to report that I am now definitely a fan of gin and I look forward to enjoying another G&T very soon!
Have you been to one of the Gin Festivals before, or did you go along to the one at the Paintworks over the weekend too? I’d love to know what you thought – let me know by commenting below.
*Although I was invited to visit Gin Festival for the purpose of a review, the words, thoughts and opinions stated here are all my own.