GYM & TONEIC

Swimming in gin at Victoria Baths

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Same month, second festival – living it up to the gin-lush label! On Saturday 25 March I attended my second gin festival of 2017, second festival in the same month… I was invited along to the Gin Festival at Victoria Baths in Manchester, to sup and sample gin and blog about the event.

This was by far my most gin-fuelled fête to date, another fantastic festival that has just got bigger and better each year. I had my partner, Heath, my good friend, Nicola (crazy marathon runner), my little sister, Grace, and her boyfriend, Tom, in tow. I dragged them there kicking and screaming… they snapped my hand off to come along, all being massive gin lushes like me!         

On arrival, I was greeted with a bloggers gift bag, including 4 free drinks tokens (wahoo!), the gin book; a gin bible listing all gins to be sampled and so much more! A gin festival pin badge, pen (you can never have too many pens), and a handy gin goblet carrier bag (a great idea). We then got straight to it; supping and sampling in the sampling pool. We tried all the gins on offer, there were a lot more gins to sample than the previous year (if truth be told I was well on my way before we’d even begun!). A firm favourite for all was the latest gin on the scene, Tinker, a light and fruity, Spanish style gin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Spain make great gins! This may not be made in Spain, but it’s Spanish inspired, and I’m a big fan of light and fruity gins.

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To the main gin room I stumbled… as per previous years gins were split by bar, A, B, C and D, all listed in the gin bible, with a description of the botanicals each is made with and the garnish each should be supped with. We all flicked through the book and circled gins we’d like to sample, and split up in search of our chosen gins. As always, I’ve looked to sample gins I hadn’t supped before, always seeking out new favourites.

Gins I supped and sampled…  

White Rose Leeds Gin. A gin produced in Yorkshire, made with juniper berries, cassia, apricot and the subtle aroma of Yorkshire’s famous white rose petals. Best served with an apple garnish. I have to admit I wasn’t as impressed with this gin as I thought I would be… I felt it was quite a strong-tasting gin, and was expecting it to be a lot lighter and fruity.

Wight Mermaid Gin. A gin produced on the Isle of Wight, made with rock samphire handpicked from the chalk cliffs and Isle of Wight grown Boadicea hops. A gin that is slightly sweet with a touch of sweet pepper and hints of lemon citrus. I loved the sound of this gin, mermaid was the selling point, and being made by the sea. Again, I wasn’t as impressed with this as I thought I would be, another strong gin, that was a little too strong for me. I couldn’t taste the citrussy elements, pepper was most dominant to taste.

Black Tomato Gin. A gin produced in the Netherlands, made with signature black tomatoes which are grown near the distillery, a splash of local sea water and peppery juniper. I didn’t try this with tonic, I had this in a Red Snapper cocktail, gins own Bloody Mary. I LOVE a Bloody Mary, like a meal in a glass, a healthy cocktail in my mind with tomatoes being so good for you. This went down a treat, they even added beetroot to the mix, again very healthy ad good for you. This got a big thumbs up! Not sure I would’ve enjoyed it quite the same with tonic, I’ll have to try it again at some point in the future and let you know.

Tinker Gin. A Spanish inspired gin produced in Leeds, made with liquorice and elderberries, orange and lemon. Best served with a slice of pear. This was a firm favourite of mine in the sampling pool and only left me wanting more… so of course this had to be supped as one of my selection. A gin that is light and fruity, easy and pleasing on the palate. We bought a bottle to take home, for further supping and sampling, and it didn’t last long!

With all the above gins supped and LOTS of gins sampled in the sampling pool, I was very tipsy indeed, we all were! This was the booziest festival I’ve been to, and it just gets bigger and better each year! On top of the hundreds of gins to be sampled, there was a great selection of street food to choose from to soak up all the booze. If you’ve not experienced the Gin Festival yet, you must! I will be there again next year for sure… seeking out new gins and no doubt loving it even more.

Check out ginfestival.com to find upcoming events, buy tickets and gin!                         

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The Gin Society Festival 2017

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On Friday 3 March I went to my first festival of 2017… A gin festival of course! I attended The Gin Society festival at the iconic Manchester Cathedral once again, but this time with my gin twin and fellow foody, fashion and boozy blogger, Dawn (check out her blog Just Mee Dee).

Back for the second year, the festival was bigger and better, as expected, with the gin-revolution still showing no signs of slowing – praise the lord! There were more gins to be supped and sampled, more producers sharing their wares and more guys and girls guzzling the good stuff.

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On arrival, we were given a gin goblet and guide, a fancy printed feature listing all gins to be sampled; fruit gins, world gins, British gins and gin cocktails, as well as a brief history lesson of gin. We flicked through the guide in search of new gins that tickled our fancy, made a note and then marched off (in different directions). As I’ve mentioned before, me and Dawn share a whole lot a love for gin, but have very different tastes when it comes to the supping. She prefers the tough stuff (that I can’t handle even the smell of), whereas I prefer light and fruity gins that are easy on palate and nose.

I have to say, I was disappointed once again that the first 2 gins I selected to sample were out of stock. The first gin that grabbed my attention was ‘Mom – God save the gin’, which would’ve been a perfect and very fitting festival opener (looks as though everyone else thought so too!). The second gin I wanted to sample was ‘Tinto’, a sweet and sour Portuguese gin, red in colour. It was the colour that grabbed my attention, and the sweet and sour combo that intrigued. But hey-ho, I’ll have to sample these at another festival! 😉

Drink gin to repent sin! On to the gins that I did try…

Dutch Courage from Holland, the historical home of gin, another fitting festival opener! A gin citrusy on the nose and palate, with a spicy taste and notes of violet, anise and juniper. A full-bodied gin with a bittersweet and intense finish. Best served with ice and a slice of lime. I have to say the description lured me in, I really liked the sound of it, but wasn’t so keen on the taste, a bit bland in my opinion.

Boodles – Mulberry a British gin, that combines mulberries with notes of raspberry and currant to create a sweet and subtle medley. The addition of rosemary and sage botanicals, create a balance and complexity of flavour. Best served with fresh mint. I enjoyed this sup, but it’s very sweet. Not a gin I could sup all night, one or two and that would do.

Filliers Dry Gin 28 – Pine Blossom a Belgian gin, that I had to try after reading the first descriptive line. ‘Featuring a breeze of pine blossom running through its centre’, the word breeze has a special place in my centre, working on the awesome women’s cycling initiative, Breeze, for so many years. A creamy, earthy and intensely refreshing gin, best served with rosemary (I’m a big fan of gins served with a rosemary garnish).

Last but by no means least…

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Alnwick Gin a British gin, new to the scene, produced in Northumberland. Hand-crafted and expertly infused with locally foraged botanicals and exotic spices for a crisp, aromatic taste with a smoky finish. A unique taste of wild and rural sophistication, best served with grapefruit and rosemary. However, I supped mine with apple and cinnamon, a taste sensation, like drinking apple pie. This was by far my favourite of the night, so much so I purchased a bottle for the road.

We had lots of fun at the festival, it was great to see its growing success and to get to speak to more producers. Who couldn’t sing more praise for the event organisers and hosts, who’d catered so well to their needs. One of the things that stood out from discussions, was that this is a festival supporting small start-ups, by not charging them a small fortune to share their wares, like many other festivals do. Expansion, growth and popularity is all good, but out price your producers and they’ll go elsewhere… then you’re left with the big brands that can pay the big bucks, as the only ones in attendance and you lose your audience! People like me, who always want to try something new, the latest gin on the market, looking to find my new favourite sup. You’ll never catch me asking for a Gordons, a Bombay or a Tanqueray or wanting to try the same gin twice. The Gin Society festival has still got a local, artisan feel, that’s not showing signs of becoming cutthroat and corporate any time soon.

If you’ve not experienced a gin festival yet, then this is a must! You can find more information and tickets for upcoming events here. I’m going again in a couple of weeks’ time, to the Buxton event with my other half, Heath, who’s a lover of gin. Another stunning venue, that’s a bit closer to home. I’ll be sure to report back on new gins we sup and sample.

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