Manchester Gin Festival

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A festival of gin, I’m in! As soon as details of the 3rd annual gin festival were announced, the date, location and exact time (to the second), that tickets would go on sale got etched in the diary. This was an event that had mine and my gin twin’s name all over. After missing out on tickets last year, there was no way I was missing out again…

We managed to bag tickets for the afternoon session on Saturday 26 March, what better way to spend Easter weekend, supping on the good stuff in stunning surroundings! The festival took place at the grade II* listed Victoria Baths, where more than 100 different gins were showcased from craft distilleries across Britain and beyond.

Decisions decisions… so many gins, too little time!

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On arrival we were given a gin glass the size of your head and a gin book (bible), listing all of the gins available to try. I’ve always been a girl that studies last minute or wings it, however, had I had this book a day or two before the event I would’ve studied it cover to cover!

Unfortunately we didn’t have the time (or liver capacity) to try 100 gins; although I’m sure we’d give it a bloody good go given half the chance! We scanned the book and each picked 4 gins we’d not tried before to taste.

Gins I supped included:

  • Pinksters – a pink gin made with 5 botanicals, most notable fresh raspberries. This is a dry gin, with a soft and fruity finish. Best served with fresh mint and raspberries to bring out the flavours. It’s also gluten-free, as the creator has a wheat allergy. I liked this a lot, very easy on the palate, perfect to sip in summer.
  • K-25 – a Spanish gin made in the Basque country, this is a citrusy gin with a cool blue tone. Distilled 14 times, with bitter and sweet orange, lemon, mandarin and coriander. Best served with Rosemary to bring out the flavours. I wasn’t sure about the look of this one at first with it being blue, it reminded me of a blue WKD (brings back BAD memories of many BAD decisions made in my youth!). However, I was tempted by the botanicals and curious about the rosemary accompaniment, and was very pleasantly surprised indeed. A great decision to try and taste (30+ older and much wiser). Rosemary and gin is a great combo!
  • Sikkim Bilberry – another Spanish gin, inspired by the mountainous state of India, famed for rooibos tea. This is a dry gin, with the sweetness and depth of fresh blueberries and blackberries. Best served with fresh blueberries to bring out the flavours. I picked this one because I liked the purple bottle and because blueberries are a superfood, making it a ‘healthy gin’ (I’m going with that anyway!). Very nice indeed, another great drink for summer.
  • Ely Dark Chocolate – a dark chocolate and gin liqueur, rich with cocoa it has a woody fruitiness. Best served neat on ice or with fresh orange juice, no garnish. I picked this one as it was like having a dessert, this being the final gin I supped of the day. Also because it’s Easter weekend, and all about sweet treats! I drank it neat, and loved every sip.

Throughout the event we mixed and mingled with fellow gin lovers, and were treated to live entertainment, talks from gin industry experts aka gin gods, and feasted on tasty treats to soak up all the booze.

Gin lessons learnt at the gin festival

  • I definitely prefer light and fruity gins over the tough stuff! Whereas Dawn, my gin twin, prefers the stuff that’ll put hairs on your chest, she can handle her gin…
  • Rosemary is an amazing garnish (with suitable gins)
  • Spain produces great gin!

This was my third gin jaunt of 2016, a fantastic festival that I highly recommend fellow gin lovers attend. A total bargain in my mind, tickets cost £7.50 and then drinks tokens cost £5 a drink (which is pretty standard for a G&T). There’s a number of events taking place throughout the UK in 2016, but be warned tickets sell quick! Find out more and get involved:

Check out more pictures from the event over on my Facebook page

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