Wow! I think May might have been my busiest and best month in gin ever. And I’m not even talking about #GinADayMay. I’m talking about visiting not one, not two, but three distilleries, The Gin Archive, Gin Live London and attending my very first Gin Guild dinner and installation! If you want to hear all about it, and see all the pics, read on…
Between #GinADayMay and everything else I’ve been up to, I haven’t been keeping a particularly close eye on the news of late, but I did spot the launch of The Gin Cooperative Scottish Gin Awards. With an equal number of judges representing the drinks industry, the gin community and consumers, entries will be tasted both neat and with tonic as well as being assessed on their packaging. The deadline for entries is 17th June and winners will be announced in August. Good luck to everyone involved!
New Gin Alerts
There have been loads of new gins released this month (and a deluge of Platinum Jubilee offerings) but the ones that have caught my eye have, mostly, come in pairs. Tarquin’s have released both a Pink Lemon, Grapefruit & Peppercorn Gin and a limited edition Passion Fruit & Peach Gin, while Holyrood Distillery have announced the addition of two new gins to their Height of Arrows range: Bright, which focuses on the natural flavourings of the juniper berry, and Heavy, which features roasted juniper and is sweetened in the Old Tom style. And, completing the rainbow below, York Gin have released a limited edition Mediterranean Lemon Gin described as “delightfully light, balanced and zesty”.
My Month in Gin
Naturally my month was mostly about #GinADayMay so thank you to everyone who took part and made it such a success. I was horribly unorganised but I made it through to the end (I mean I had to really, right?!) and got to celebrate with the amazing Gin A Day May Fizz cocktail Bombay Sapphire’s Senior Brand Ambassador, Sam Carter, created just for me! I’m hoping to write a proper #GinADayMay recap soon so I’ll share details of the recipe, and all the other highlights then.
One of the other undoubted highlights of my month had to be attending The Gin Guild’s Annual Industry Dinner and Spring Installation at Guildhall. A very posh affair, it was an honour to attend as a guest and watch friends – including Sipsmith’s Keli Rivers and Pete Lumber of 137 Gin – join the Guild as overseen by Grand Rectifier, and Hendrick’s Master Distiller, Lesley Gracie. We were also treated to the legendary (and very well stocked) Gin Guild bar, a delicious meal and a wonderful speech by Sipsmith co-founder Sam Galsworthy. As you can imagine, and probably judge from some of the photos below, the partying continued into the wee hours but I think I’ll keep what (little!) I remember of that to myself…
I also had the pleasure of judging alongside a great team for the Hard Seltzer Masters 2022. A category I don’t tend to indulge in often myself, I must admit I was really impressed with both the quality and variety. Congratulations to all the winners but especially to the Taste Master: Green Tea & Muscat Grape Young Heart Seltzer.
The first of my three distillery visits took me to Portsmouth’s eighteenth century Fort Cumberland. Located within the Historic England property, The Portsmouth Distillery Co. make a range of spirits including a very recently released three-year-old aged rum. Fort Gin – created with locally foraged botanicals including elderflower, gorse flowers and sea radish – was my pick of the bunch, but I was also super intrigued, and impressed, by Forum described as “a deliciously refined “Garden” Rum that’s made like a Gin”. If you’re remotely intrigued it’s well worth checking out.
The Gin Archive is another amazing, but top secret, location which I was delighted to visit with David T Smith. A private collection consisting of over 5,000 different gins from over 60 countries, and tons of fabulous paraphernalia, The Gin Archive is jaw-droppingly impressive and I could have lost days in there just taking it all in but my incredibly generous hosts also let me try some very special gins. Visits are, I’m afraid, strictly by invitation only but I highly recommend you follow The Gin Archive on Instagram to see their wonderful collection, some silly pics from my visit, and mine and David’s thoughts on Cambridge Distillery’s £2,500 Watenshi!
Back in London I was also delighted to return to one of the first distilleries I ever visited to celebrate Sipsmith’s partnership with The Wimbledon Championships. The distillery was beautifully bedecked with old tennis rackets, giant balls and even an umpires’ stand and, in addition to a delicious lunch, we were treated to a tasting of the limited edition 2022 Strawberry Smash Gin and a cocktail masterclass during which we got to stir up a Strawberry Smash Spritz and shake up a Strawberry Smash Club. I’ve yet to taste this year’s version alongside last year’s but, with the addition of a few raspberries, I think the 2022 version might just take it on the tie break. If you’re tempted to give it a try use coupon code Sarah5 for £5 off!
And, after all that fun, I still managed to make it to Gin Live London where I tried, and was very impressed by, both Xin Gin and the whole Henley Distillery range and revisited some old favourites including Broken Bones Gin, Crafty Distillery and Audemus Spirits (where I had so much fun catching up with Ian I completely forgot to take a single picture!).
Finally I finished off the month by joining the most incredible press trip to Hepple Spirits in Northumberland. It’s an area of the country I’ve only ever really passed through before so I was blown away by its beauty as we walked around the estate learning all about Walter Riddell’s natural regeneration plans and even planting our own teeny tiny baby juniper bushes! Of course I was equally excited by Master Distiller Chris Garden’s informative tour of their petite but pioneering distillery where they create their gin using a unique triple technique of copper pot distillation, glass vacuum distillation and supercritical extraction. And the icing on the cake had to be Hepple’s incredible generosity which included mid-afternoon martinis among their 300-year-old juniper bushes, sundowners on martini rock and an amazing dinner hidden away high on the hilltop.
Welcome to My Collection
Thank you so much to The River Test Distillery for their truly stunning new Sunset Citrus Gin featuring pink grapefruit, pomelo and rosehip, to Sipsmith for this amazing hamper celebrating their partnership with The Wimbledon Championships and including their 2022 Limited Edition Strawberry Smash Gin, and to Wild Thyme Spirits for the limited edition version of their Original Colonsay Gin featuring beautiful new artwork to mark their 5th anniversary. I also couldn’t resist purchasing a bottle each of Bombay Bramble and the new Bombay Citron Pressé to recreate the incredible Gin A Day May Fizz cocktail!
Thank you also to everyone who gifted me my Shed 1, Mermaid Gin and Cooper King tasting packs, G’Vine Gin de France and June Gin Liqueur miniatures and the rather exciting Procera Gin Blue Dot Vintage 2022.
Catching Up and Looking Forward
If you’ve not read it yet, why not check out my article for Spirits Beacon asking if Australian agave can take the spirits category in a new exciting direction? Looking forward, I will try to get my #GinADayMay recap published but I’m not making any promises as, on top of my regular writing commitments, I’m also attending The Gin Guild Ginposium (tickets are still available I believe) and celebrating World Gin Day, as tradition dictates, at Junipalooza! Maybe I’ll see you there?🍸🛎🛎