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

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All praise the superior spirit… gin! Gin gods, goddesses and worshipers came together to show, share and sample the good stuff in Manchester once again this weekend, at the first Gin Society Festival, and of course as a gindisciple ever keen to know and learn more I attended mass.

This being the second gin festival I’ve attended in the city, it was hosted at another historic and beautifully iconic landmark, Manchester Cathedral, the perfect place for worship and gin-appreciation!

The festival was held over two days, 2 & 3 September, I went to the evening session on Saturday (the day before my Birthday!) with my gin guzzling gals to celebrate turning 30 +2, all my Birthday wishes come true…

On arrival we were greeted with a goblet and gin guide, which listed over 70 gins to try from producers throughout the UK and Europe. We then purchased our drink tokens, which cost a very reasonable £5 per drink. Once again I had that liver capacity dilemma… I couldn’t try them all, so I flicked through the guide and selected gins I liked the sound of that I hadn’t sampled before. I have to say, I was a little disappointed to hear they had run out of stock of the first two gins I wanted to try, Ginvinity and 5th Fire – Red Fruits… opening the festival by losing my Ginvinity would’ve been the perfect way to start, but I guess lots of other gin-lovers had the same idea 😉

Gins I supped included…

Warner Edwards – Rhubarb an English fruit gin that I was told was a good substitute for the two gins I initially picked that I couldn’t sample. This gin combines Harrington Dry Gin with a rhubarb infusion, rhubarb that was originally grown in the gardens of Queen Victoria’s estate in the 1800’s! I drank this with ginger ale instead of tonic, as rhubarb and ginger go together perfectly, and was very impressed.

Manchester Gin a gin that’s produced in Chorlton, South Manchester (where I lived for a good while). Another relatively new gin on Manchester’s scene, made by a couple that met and fell in love over a gin and tonic! I loved the love story as much as I liked the sound of the botanicals, Dandelion and Burdock Root. I supped it with orange and rosemary garnish and was very impressed indeed; Manchester’s proving to be a great city for good times and great gins!

Batch gin from Burnley. I chose to try this as Burnley is just up’th road from my hometown of Ramsbottom, also because my nephew Alfie is the biggest Burnley FC fan. This gin contains nutmeg, frankincense and myrrh giving it a Christmassy flavour. Contrary to the flavour, the garnishes you sup it with give it a summery twist… lime and strawberry! I was very impressed with this lovely Lancashire liquor; I highly recommend giving it a try.

Sharish Blue Magic produced in Portugal. This fruit gin gets its colour from the blue pea flower, other botanicals include strawberry, cinnamon, lemon peel, ginger and liquorice. The magic happens when you pour on the tonic and the gin turns from blue to pink! Not only does this gin look lush, it tastes it too… best served with a lime garnish.

Good time Gin Guzzling Gals
Good times with my gin guzzling gals

I had a fab night with fabulous friends… supping lots of lush gins most definitely took the edge off my increasing age!

For a first festival it was really good, stunning location and lots of great gins to be sampled… only feedback from me would be, to have more stock (no running out!) and have a wider variety of food on offer… however with gin domination showing no signs of slowing, I’m sure it’ll be bigger and even better next year!

Find out more about The Gin Society festival and follow them on social Facebook and Twitter.

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