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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Gin guzzling gift ideas

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Give the gift of gin this Christmas. Christmas is a time to be joyous and merry, and traditionally involves sipping sherry! But hands up, who actually likes sherry? No, me neither! It’s all about gin these days and there’s lots of festive cocktails and concoctions to be made. I’m sure ‘Father Christmas’ would much rather have G&T to wash down his mince pie too…

If you’re stuck for gift ideas and stocking fillers, here’s a few suggestions to put a big fat festive smile on the face of the gin lover in your life…

Ginvent calendar. Make the countdown to Christmas a merry one indeed with a gin advent calendar. At last there’s a calendar for adults, a calendar to blow all cheap crappy chocolate calendars right out of the water… at £125 it is rather steep and indulgent, but if you can’t indulge at Christmas when can you…

Emergency gin keyring. We’ve all been in a situation where this would come in handy! Forget emergency first aid kits… break out of the office and break open the gin! Note: I’m not condoning this kind of behaviour, just saying…

Gin related gym gear. Now you know my blog is as much about the gym as it is drinking gin, I love both in equal measures! Well now you combine the two with quirky gym clobber.

Join a gin club. There’s a few of these around, where you join the club and get a different bottle of gin to sup and sample each month. Here’s a few to check out Craft Gin Club , The Gin Crowd , Five O’ Clock Club , I Love Gin. Being such a kind and generous lover or friend getting them this, they may just let you in on the monthly sampling action.

Get tickets for the gin festival. But of course you’ll have to buy two, a present for them and a present for you! I’ve been to a few festivals this year (as you may have read / seen), the festival in Manchester at Victoria Baths was by far my favourite, so much so I’ve already bought myself tickets for next year’s event (it’s already ticked off my wish list!).

101 gins to try before you die. A gin book to live by. A friend of mine who has this book made a pact with friends to get together and try a new gin each week, they are still going strong. What a great idea and excuse to sup and socialise with friends.     

Gin mug. Life isn’t a fairy tale; I have lost shoes (and on occasions my dignity) and it has been gin related! This is also true, gin is for life not just for Christmas.

Finally… if you’re still searching for the most fitting Christmas jumper for your office party, check out this beauty on the gin festival website!

In need of more ginspiration? Check out:

BuzzFeed gin gift list

Etsy gin gifts

Not on the high street gin gifts

** Heath, if you’re reading this the above is a BIG hint and help if you’re struggling for gift ideas! **

Gin-gle bells, gin-gle bells, gin all the way…

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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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Gin jaunts… lack of!

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Must drink more gin! There has been a serious lack of gin love in my life of late and that NEEDS to change! This blog is supposed to be about gym and gin love, in equal measures… I’ve been cheating on gin with gym for too long! Time to get planning, sipping and supping…

Looking back at the gin goals I set back in January, I’ve only ticked off 1! I went to Manchester Gin Festival back in March, you can read all about that here – awesome event! I haven’t got round to the other two I set, going to the Old Bell Inn and embarking on Manchester’s Gin Journey. I must tick both of these off and add to the list…

My Friday has been made very happy indeed this week, with the news that another gin festival is coming to Manchester city centre in September AND Manchester’s first gin school and distillery is opening next month!

Manchester Three Rivers Gin school and distillery opens its doors for the first gin experience tour on 18 August. Based under a railway arch on Red Bank, on the edge of the city centre, the craft distillery is already in action producing new small batch spirit ‘Manchester Three Rivers Gin’, and I can’t wait to sample it!

The Gin Society Festival is taking place at Manchester Cathedral on 2-3 September, day before my Birthday (4 Sept) – all my Birthday wishes come true at once! Tickets for this got purchased with my gin guzzling girls earlier today… can’t think of a better way to celebrate turning 30+2!

All suggestions for gin jaunts most definitely welcome… share and suggest on a post below!

I LOVE gin

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