If I had to choose just one alcoholic drink for the rest of my life, it would probably be a G&T. Not only is it actually pretty low in calories, but it’s also delicious, refreshing and there are just so many different variations to choose from. My favourite from an off the shelf range of gin is usually a Hendricks with cucumber garnish and a lemon tonic. However, one of the most delicious more unusual gins I’ve had recently is a pink pepper gin with a slightly spicy tonic and a good wedge of lime.
Gin seems to be very much the spirit of the moment, with gin bars popping up in every town and pubs offering far more than the usual Gordan’s. This is partly where, over the last few years, gin festivals have also come onto the scene.
Therefore this post is an introduction to what to expect at a gin festival, after Adam and I visited the one that travelled to Torquay recently. The Friday night we had tickets was the night after we’d moved into the house, and though hesitant with so much to unpack and move, we had both also really been looking forward to a night out, exploring a new-to-us town and tasting some pretty unusual and special gin! We had a pretty effortless journey, despite having to get three separate trains from Saltash (our new little local station) and arriving after the initial rush as recommended meant we entered swiftly and easily without any delay.
When you first arrive at a gin festival, you’re presented with a balloon glass, filled with your gin bible and some other useful info. You then head into the main hall where you can purchase extra tokens for trying different gins. In the drinks hall, the gins are laid out in 4 categories – A, B, C, D with different groups of gins in each. You can consult your gin bible, choose the gin you want, head to the bar it’s listed under and then they will pour it for you, accompanied by the specified garnish and recommendations for tonics. I really liked that you pour your own tonic, and it’s unlimited. I also loved that they only provide Fever Tree, and all varieties of them! I especially love the lemon tonic and the spiced.
The queues at each bar went down really quickly and all the bar staff were so friendly and knowledgeable about the gins they were serving, I could have happily tried one of everything! (and ended up on the floor no doubt) – even trying 3 different gins (plus a few sneaky brand tasters) made me tipsy enough!
We also wanted to try out some of the tasty looking street food, choosing meatballs and cous cous with tasty kebabs – really reasonable at just £4 per meal!
Throughout the evening there was live music and really interesting masterclasses from gin distillers about how they started their businesses. You also have the opportunity to sample more gin and chat to brands upstairs in the mezzanine.
There really is so much choice of gin types, many of which I’ve never heard of! Initially I went for a fruity rhubarb gin, which was served with raspberries, and Adam chose a quince gin which actually turned out to be a favourite for both of us!
My second choice was a wildcard Mediterranean gin with rosemary and pine, but although I loved the sound of it, I found the taste a bit too strong and not the usual fruity, fresh, or floral that I’d like. A good lesson to learn though, and Adam’s second choice was a good strong dry gin that was very fresh and liquoricey.
The end of the evening came around far faster than either of us expected, but we had to dash back to get our train, and the final chocolate gin was one we figured we’d never have tried otherwise, especially as it was served without a garnish, and with orange juice! It was actually delicious! Chocolate + orange + gin would never have been on my list if I hadn’t been to the festival, and though I probably won’t be buying a specific bottle any time soon, I was really pleased I’d tried it!
Are you a lover of gin? If so, hit me up with some recommendations!
*** I was given a complimentary ticket to the gin festival, but all opinion and love of gin is my own!***