I’ll be honest gin has not been my ‘go to’ drink since an over indulgence on £1 gin slings back in my student days. But a decade (ok maybe a tad more) has passed and when we were invited to the Gin Festival in Hull last weekend I saw it as a great opportunity to build bridges with gin and rekindle the love I once had for it. Unfortunately, Mr ESLT, who works on call, got called in. Luckily for me, my friend JB – a self proclaimed gin aficionado happily stepped in and accompanied me to the event. The Gin Festival was held at The Guildhall in Hull City Centre. The Festival was split into three sessions: Friday 27th May evening, Saturday 28th afternoon and the session we attended Saturday 28th evening. The fact that there were three sessions and only a limited number of tickets were sold for each meant that it didn’t become stupidly packed and we didn’t have to queue for ages to get our hands on the good stuff!
We received a lovely warm welcome from the Gin Festival staff and were given an amazing great big glass which we were to use all evening (and could take home as a memento) together with a really informative booklet which offered descriptions of all the 100+ gins available. Yes, you read that right…over 100 different gins! Who knew?! JB eagerly started pawing at his booklet picking out his favourites and making notes next to the ones he wanted to try. I on the other hand circled the ‘pink one’.
We headed into the main hall and found on one side was the bar with all the gins, one side a cocktail bar, one side stalls set up by some of the brands offering information and samples and the last an off licence where you could buy any/all of the gins available there that day as well as other gin related paraphernalia. Oh and crisps, the all important snack when boozing! First thing first was to arm ourselves with tokens, the currency of the evening, as the bars did not accept cash. This was done at the off licence where £5 got you one token and one token got you one drink (2 tokens for cocktails).
Drinks in hand we hit the stalls to find out more about some of the gins available. I instantly spotted the ‘pink one’ which was actually Pinkster, a dry gin produced with fresh raspberries. Samples downed I added it to my list of ones to come back to. We milled about chatting to the brand ambassadors and learning so much about gin and the recent uprising of craft gins, swigging the samples as we went. As many of the brands we spoke to were small, yet growing, companies they were very passionate about their product, which was great to see.
We managed to catch two of the three ‘Masterclasses’ that were available to attend throughout the evening. The first was by James from Sir Robin of Locksley who gave a great talk regarding the history of the company, the different types of gin available together with what constitutes what type of gin and what APB they must be. Proving that all those years ago the gin that I had knocked back merrily was in fact more than likely just a cheap spirit with juniper favouring added to it rather than brewed from juniper berries as gin should be.
The second was by Sophie from Masons Yorkshire Gin. Being a Yorkshire lass myself I really wanted to love their gin and guess what I did, especially the tea (yes tea!) gin. Sophie gave a very entertaining talk detailing the history of gin and the meaning behind gins alternative name ‘mothers ruin’. Unfortunatley, we didn’t have time to listen to the Brockmans talk as we had to catch the last train, which was such as shame as it was my favourite gin of the evening!
So with that being said, here’s our Top 5 Gins we tried (and we tried quite a few):-
Before we left we had the chance to swing by the off licence once more (having already made a crips dash half way through the evening) in order for JB to purchase a bottle of the Edinburgh Elderflower which came in a funky Gin Festival tote bag. We also had the opportunity to speak to the lovely Charlie from the Gin Explorer, who offer a great subscription box. Basically you sign up to have gin delivered to your door every month for £24.99 – what a great idea!
With live music from 9.00pm the atmosphere was great, everyone seemed very relaxed as they sipped their gins and chatted away. Tickets cost £7.50 which includes your souvenir glass. The Gin Festival still has plenty of events planned throughout England this year so why not check one out for yourselves. I hope it returns to Hull next year as I’ll be first in the queue. I think it’s safe to say gin and I are friends again and I for one am looking forward to a gin and tonic or 2 this coming weekend especially as it is World Gin Day on Saturday (11th June 2016).
• Thank you to the Gin Festival for providing us with complimentary tickets in exchange for review.