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.
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…
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.