A weekend of gin tasting – one gin is not enough as their flyer says! – in afternoon or evening sessions. Book in plenty of time as the Sunday evening session was the only one left when I booked in July – all week they sent email reminders saying they would refund ticket price of £7.81 if I couldn’t get there as they had a waiting list. I could see why.
Over 300 people there, mostly couples or groups although I was quite happy solo, with a lively, buzzing atmosphere even while waiting to get in at 6.30pm. It is very well organised, lots of staff to welcome you and go through the procedure. They give you a very large glass + pen + booklet about all the gins available (100 to choose from). You pay £5 per G&T you intend to buy (but can top this up as you need to!), generally £20 to start, choose the gins you fancy from the descriptions in the booklet, then off you go.
You get half a glass of ice, the gin measure plus a slice, then they suggest you try it neat before you start adding tonic water. There is as much free tonic water as you want, just help yourself, so you can add it as you go or drink just tonic to spread the alcoholic effects over the evening (if necessary). There was a Masterclass during the evening although this was packed so I didn’t go in. A hot food counter serving chips, curry etc, made sure that you were not drinking on an empty stomach, so all in all they really tried to make it an enjoyable experience without making people ill.
My choices with my £20 ticket? Tried a Cardiff gin first –“Limbeck” 45% – but this was a bit too herby and earthy for me. The next English gin “Slingsby” 42% from Harrogate was much smoother, really nice ‘initial burst of citrus’ which only needed a little tonic. Then moved on to the International bar for “La Vita E’Bella” 40% from Italy – lovely aroma of lemon, orange, elderflower – which was very pleasant but I needed tonic to really enjoy it.
Final bar was the flavoured gins. Lots to choose from here, including strawberry, gooseberry, rhubarb & ginger, but I went for the “Zymgorium sweet violet” 19%. Let’s just say it was a good job I didn’t start at this bar otherwise I might have spent even more! A wonderful smell of parma violets and definitely no need for tonic. It is sweet, so if you like a very dry gin it won’t be for you, but I admit I could drink this quite easily! The girl behind the bar said if I liked this I should try the Rose Petal, so I made a sacrifice in the name of research and bought another £5 token. Was it worth it? Of course – Turkish Delight in a glass, divine. I was then obliged to buy a bottle of this, although I was aware that it was probably not to my husband’s taste, so for £24.50 I got a bottle of this unusual gin, two free bottles of tonic water, and a fabric bag to carry it home in. They even gave you a bag to put your glass in to take home so that you didn’t have to walk down the street looking desperate!
This is a different experience, very interesting, and I can’t believe so many people booked for all the sessions from Thursday to Sunday. It was a great evening, so if you like a G&T and see the event advertised, then go. I did last until 8.30pm but then toddled off to the Ibis. Brilliant.