GYM & TONEIC

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: ginfestival.com.

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

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Gin tasting World Record – sign me up!

Photo by Nic Taylor

My second gin jaunt of 2016 was to take part in a gin tasting Guinness World Records attempt – how cool is that! No sooner than I’d heard whispers (been tagged a hundred times in a Facebook post) about the gin tasting record attempt, happening at The Botanist bar chain, I was in touch to ask for an invite.

Me being me (cheeky), I had to try my luck and ask to be involved, I couldn’t not! Not every day you get to be part of something like this, and I’m no stranger to setting Guinness World Records, this being the second title to my name, not one to gloat *cough*, I’ll share that story another time.

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The Botanist (New World Trading Company), have a number of record titles under their belt too. For ale tasting and having the largest collection of rums commercially available, but this was for gin, glorious gin. They drank their way into the record books once again, by hosting the world’s biggest gin-tasting night to celebrate their new perfect serve gin list. The attempt saw 100 people at each of the nine sites, from London to Glasgow try three gins from sponsors – Tanqueray 10, Whitley Neill and Caorunn.

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My plus one, fellow gin-fanatic and fashion blogger, Dawn, and I propped-up the Deansgate bar – taking the attempt and tasting with utmost seriousness of course (before the celebrations kicked in!). Every tasting is an education – new gins tried and tested, learning about the botanicals and most fitting accompaniments (increasing my gin-snobbery). My favourite on the night was Caorunn, served with tonic and apple slices – delish!

Following the attempt a celebratory party was thrown, which we were more than happy to get involved with, loving the live music, nibbles, gin cocktails, and yet more gin tasting… we had a ball!

Feedback from gin jaunt number two – awesome night, awesome atmosphere, awesome company, awesome!

In case you wondered…
The other Guinness World Records title I have to my name is for the most mechanical energy produced by pedalling on static bicycles in one hour – 4,821.40 watts! Which I coordinated and took part in, alongside 120 awesome women for British Cycling’s Breeze – proud!

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The ultimate test of will power!

The girls

My first gin jaunt of 2016, and guess what… I couldn’t touch a drop! With just 3 days left of dry January, one of my oldest, nearest and dearest friends, Becky, decides to throw a gin tasting shindig for all the girls on 29 January – thanks Becky!

She asked everyone, bar me (still sulking!), to do their research and bring a different bottle of gin, along with the appropriate accompaniments and a tapas style dish – because we’re ‘sensible’ in our old age and know that drinking on an empty stomach never ends well!

Gin night at Bexs

The gins brought and supped were:

  • Hoxton gin with cranberry juice – a gin with an exotic twist, distilled with coconut and grapefruit. There was a lot of surprise and delight with this gin, the first one supped and was a big hit!
  • Edgerton pink gin with Seville orange and pomegranate pressé – a gin blended with fifteen exotic ingredients including pomegranate. Presented in pink, to make the girls wink! Another big hit.
  • Opihr gin with ginger ale – a spiced gin, distilled with peppers, cumin, coriander and oranges. This gin was one of my personal favourites over Christmas, it didn’t go down so well with the group.
  • Masons Yorkshire gin with tonic – a gin blended with secret botanicals, there were no grumbles here.
  • Edinburgh gin with tonic – two types were supped, rhubarb and ginger and elderflower, lots of gin appreciation for both.
  • A home-brewed plum gin with tonic, brewed by my friend’s hubby – this went down like a lead balloon, I think the word ‘paint stripper’ was used! One of the commandos managed to ride it out and drink the full glass, a true gin warrior. The others sniffed and turned up their noses. The vile taste was found all the more funny with the misspelled labelling of plum ‘plumb’, brilliant! Perhaps there was some truth in the misspelling and it was in fact plumbed, as opposed to distilled – giving it it’s industrial flavouring, in which case it was on point!
  • Greenalls wild berry gin with tonic and fresh berries – a gin distilled with blackberries and raspberries. It went down well – let’s face it, anything would after plumb gin!
  • A few sipping gins were then thrown in for good measure…

I can only look at the positives from this torture…

  • I’ve not consumed the boozy calories.
  • I’m not hungover.
  • They’ve done the legwork; I can just go straight in and try the preferred gins.
  • I’m thankful to have a big group of friends that love gin as much as me; who I’m sure will happily do this again – when I can join in!
  • I didn’t crack and break dry January; if I’m going to transform my physique and fitness, will power is what I need a lot of – being stubborn isn’t always a bad thing!
  • I got to spend time with my fabulous friends – I will take my revenge and get them all back at some point!

I hope they’re all hungover to hell today!

I’m off to treat myself to a Thai massage for having the will power of a warrior and completing yet another dry Jan! Relax, de-stress and loosen up my aching muscles… just what I need.

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