Popping our Gin Festival Cherry
It is hard to believe, but up until as recently as this weekend we had not yet had chance to experience the phenomenon that is ‘The Gin Festival’. Many people had recommended the festival to us but unfortunately the dates had always clashed with events we were attending; but that all changed with a last minute decision and lucky ticket sourcing for The Gin Festival London at Tobacco Dock on Saturday 17th February.
The Gin Festival concept was founded by a gin loving husband and wife team who wanted a better gin tasting experience. Their festival events now take place in a variety of locations every year, bringing together the best juniper based spirits, perfect serves and experts from the field. Not surprisingly they have become extremely popular; we attended along with approximately 1500 people on Saturday afternoon, with a second sitting due of the same volume in the evening!
On arrival we joined a queue of excitable gin fanatics and were swiftly admitted and sent to the welcome area. Here you are given an introduction to the festival by a friendly host and are equipt with your essential copa glass, official gin book and goodie bag complete with badge. The festival operates a token system to buy drinks, so next stop was to stock up on plenty of gin tokens. A single token is £5 and buys you a single gin with Fever Tree mixer and complementing garnish – which for premium gins we felt was good value (two tokens for a double or a cocktail was perhaps creeping up a bit though).
There was a ‘Brand’ area set up with about a dozen different distillers all sharing information and samples of their respective gins. We squeezed in straight away and worked our way around this area. Some brands were well known to us but there were also some very new and different distilleries, such as Black Tomato Gin (made from actual Black Tomatoes) and a very new gin called Tinker, sharing samples of batch number one. This Tinker Gin caught our fancy, with its Spanish inspired easy drinking flavour so later we attended their masterclass to find out more. They use traditional botanicals with a modern Spanish twist and the gentle elderberry and sherbet flavours were delicious with Fever Tree Light tonic and a pear slice garnish. We will certainly be looking to get hold of some more of this gin!
The main area of the festival is essentially set up as a massive gin bar with a huge selection of different gins. One could peruse the gin book to see what gins and their recommended serves caught your fancy, or an eyes closed and random pick approach would probably work just as well! We worked hard that afternoon to try as many different gins as possible and had a fantastic time. Some favourites included White Rose Leeds Gin, Willem Barentsz, Nordes and Two Birds.
The tasty gin selection, accompanied by a variety of live music acts made for a great atmosphere and when the call for last orders came it felt as though the afternoon had gone very quickly indeed! If the opportunity arises we would certainly attend a Gin Festival again.