We were promised bigger and better at Catford Gin Festival this year and it certainly did not disappoint! It’s a measure of how much Team Catford value this small but perfectly formed event in their efforts to drive regeneration that, in the space of a year, the festival has moved from 2017’s empty retail unit down the road, to the Art Deco grandeur of Catford’s Broadway Theatre. With the imposing venue came higher ticket prices but, with a brochure, copa de balon glass and tote bag for every attendee as well as free tasters of all the gins available, it still offered excellent value for money. Especially with such an impressive line-up!
In my last review I asked ‘what’s in a name?’. But in this day and age of social media, visual identity matters too. So today I’m taking a closer look at labels; specifically the stunning label wrapped around the squat, square bottle of Hidden Curiosities Gin. I love the striking circus font with hints of Victoriana and the eye-catching copper foiling detail. It’s a handsome affair which, I think, will attract consumers whether online, in a shop or behind a bar. Better still, turn the bottle around and you are greeted with the very definition of a hidden curiosity; the eccentric wolf and dodo woodland scene after which the gin was named (and the design of which originated from the other business – the Cravat Club – that the gin’s founder runs). For me this aesthetically appealing bottle displays real passion and would make a great gift.
What’s in a name, asked Shakespeare? Well, rather a lot actually in this day and age of the booming gin industry, brand awareness and trademark tussles. As Tiger Gin found out when Heineken Asia Pacific PTE challenged their trademark application, claiming it was too similar to that of Tiger Beer. But, against the odds, they won. And since then, David has turned Goliath and, despite the recognition on their website that “Everyone hates a bully”, they recently took the tiny Capreolus Distillery, and their Garden Tiger Gin, to court over a trademark violation. And, as you may have guessed given the title of this piece, they won again.
Gin is booming, without a doubt, but we’re also starting to see something of a backlash. A backlash against gin-and-tonic everything (see #StopFuckingWithGin), a backlash against flavoured gin (see Hayman’s Call Time on Fake Gin campaign) and a backlash against both a lack of transparency and the misuse of terminology such as “artisan” and “handcrafted”. There are certainly people out there making small scale craft gin by hand, but they have to compete against the big brands – brands with money and trademarks, many of which are not even making their own gin – just to get noticed. I believe that now, more than ever, these small businesses and micro-distilleries deserve a bigger platform and greater promotion, to which I hope to contribute. One such producer is Deerness Distillery.
I never dreamt of becoming a blogger. I didn’t really know what it meant to be a blogger and I certainly never read any blogs. It all started in the summer of 2014 when I won two tickets to Gin Journey’s London Gin Experience. The following year I won 10 bottles of premium gin from 31 Dover and in 2016 two tickets to Junipalooza. Having dabbled in writing about my neck of the woods, I finally decided to take the plunge and write about gin.
Now celebrating its fifth year, Junipalooza London promised to be bigger and better in 2018 than ever before. And it did not disappoint! With over 70 distilleries, literally hundreds of gins, the inaugural newcomer tasting zone and four experiential rooms, Junipalooza was set to burst out of the confines of the beautiful ground floor of Tobacco Docks.
There’s nothing quite like a G&T at the end of a long day, but do you have a favourite place to enjoy yours? For me, it’s in my hammock in the back of my little London garden. But for travel-loving couple Ben and Kate Marston, it’s all about being in the great outdoors, ideally under the stars and beside a glowing campfire. It was this shared love of outdoor pursuits, adventure and gin, alongside experience in tourism and design, that inspired Ben and Kate to create their perfect Campfire Gin and, in so doing, establish Hertfordshire’s first distillery in 2014.
There appears to be no end to the long list of “International Days of This” and “World Days of That”, but they are certainly not all created equal. No one can argue with the aspirations of Random Acts of Kindness Day (17th February), while it’s relatively easy to understand the appeal of Hug Your Cat Day (4th June) or World Nutella Day (5th February). On the other hand, fewer (surely) will get too excited about World Toothache Day (9th February) or World Toilet Day (19th November). But World Gin Day? That’s the real deal! Sensibly scheduled for the second Saturday in June – to avoid any unwise school-night drinking – and now celebrating its tenth year, it couldn’t be in better, or more capable, hands than Emma Stokes AKA Gin Monkey.
Since I visited in late 2016, Bimber have opened the doors of their relatively small North Acton distillery to the public, allowing everyone to get to know this forward-thinking company that, nonetheless, still respects its past. In homage to its Polish heritage, Bimber produce a wide range of vodkas, including a number of fruit-infused versions. However, these are a cut above the homely Polish home-brew from which Bimber gets its name, as their host of awards – including several medals from this year’s inaugural Bartender’s Brand Awards – testify.