Wow! That is was all I could say last Saturday evening as I tried to describe my afternoon at Junipalooza to my husband, it took me a good few hours to calm down and articulate just how amazing the experience of the day had been. Hats off to the organisers Gin Foundry (http://www.ginfoundry.com/) for organising such a fantastic event, having been to many a gin festival this tops them all for experience and would be the one I’d recommend to fellow gin lovers.
I have to say I had did have several reservations going into it, would it be too crowded? I can verify the answer is no, enough people to create a great atmosphere, but not too many people meaning you could get to all of stands & chat easily to the makers. I also had reservations about my stamina, so many gins, so little time, would I be able to get around them all and would I remember to use the spittoon? Being Welsh throwing away free booze doesn’t come naturally but on the day I found it did. There were so many spittoons placed in the rooms and all of the vendors totally understand if you don’t want to finish the sample they give you – none were offended when I failed to finish but some were just too good to throw away! I ended up sampling around 30 different gins which was at the higher end of the limit but plenty of water and a big breakfast kept me going, just about!
Like many other attendees I had carefully planned my route prior to arriving, but it wasn’t long before that plan went out of the window. My advice for next year would be to plan 10 must see distilleries and then see where the day takes you or even better, book for both the Saturday and Sunday sessions – I know I will be. After a few hours my notes became a little sporadic but after a lot of consideration here are my top 5 distilleries from the weekend:
The passion and knowledge the team brought was incredible. It was hard not to get excited about their products. My pick was the Navy strength, punchy citrus notes mean you don’t taste the strength of the alcohol – you wouldn’t want many of these to get your night started but a bottle will soon be finding a way to my shelves!
A distillery that I stumbled across on the day, I arrived 15 minutes before last orders on the Saturday and the stall was empty so I had plenty of time to chat with them. Lovely lovely people, the dry gin counts Tonka beans as a botanical, pungent with juniper and citrus the Tonka beans brings a creaminess to the palette. Not normally one for flavoured gins it was the strawberry and black pepper gin that stole the show for me, the pepper balances out the sweetness & juniper is certainly still making for an overall dry finish, I can’t wait to experiment with this in the coming weeks.
Puddingstone – Campfire Gin
A gin I’ve been wanting to try for a long time, extremely passionate and knowledge couple Ben and Kate have created 3 fantastic gins. The navy strength was excellent and I can see a bottle making its way into a hipflask ready for the Cheltenham Race Festival next year but it was the Oak Aged gin that stood out for me. Rested for just long enough for the gin to take on some of the cask characteristics I can see this working very well as an alternative to whisky in a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
Anyone who read my Grain to Glass post a few days ago will know that I really enjoyed this gin. Extremely smooth and creamy the wheat base come through in the final finish. They also had the vodka on show and it could have easily turned me into a vodka drinker – it got me thinking of a fantastic vesper I had in Bristol a few months ago. I’d love to see them start selling 20cl bottles of both as a gift set.
Wild Thyme Spirits
My first taste of Scottish gin (Hendrcks and Tanquery aside) was Isle of Harris, it awakened a passion for gin and this gin has the ability to do the same. Having moved to this small island from Oxford this husband and wife team have created a gin lover’s retreat (where do I sign up??) I came away with a bottle of their pre-mixed red snapper which I’m hoping rejuvenates me after a pre-wedding dinner in a few weeks time!!
Special mentions have to go to
Old Bakery – for the story alone
Hapusa – I’ll be eagerly awaiting the arrival of this spicy Indian gin on British shores – perfect over ice with some Bombay mix.
Curiosity gin – one I’ve wanted to try for a long time. The bottle design deserves a special mention and Jenny the creator is such a lovely lady.
Cuckoo gin – if the weather forecasters are correct then get your order in for the summer gin now! Perfect for sipping whilst sunbathing a sunny day.
The Duchess – over the last year or so there has been a marked increase in alcohol free drinks in the UK which is a good thing, however I massively object to paying the same price for a non-alcoholic drink as I do an alcoholic one. Not only have the Duchess got the taste right the price matches too, maybe with few of these in the fridge I’ll finally be able to go dry Mon-Wed!!
Franklin and Sons – it was great to see Franklin and Sons sponsor the event, I’m a huge fan of this tonic and now I know that Tesco has started to stock them I’ll be heading there this week to stock up!
With so many gins on so it was inevitable that I wouldn’t be able to get around them all and I’ve got big regrets that I missed out on:
- Four Pillars 2018 Bloody Shiraz
- 58 Gin
- The Warner Edwards Live Distillation
58 gin is an easy one to resolve with a quick trip to Hackney, but the others will just have to wait.
Keep an eye out on my pages over the next few weeks for more reviews and hopefully some distillery visits too. And my tops tips for next year?
- Arrive early
- Make use of the spittoons
- Do try to plan a route prior to arrival but don’t let it rule your day