Last year I raved about Junipalooza London and said the one thing the organisers shouldn’t do is make it any bigger. And lo, this year Gin Foundry promised us “better, not bigger”. Better began before you even stepped through the door, with the promise of an extended Newcomer zone, additional experiential zones and also a digitised show guide to help you plan your visit in advance. And the doors have changed too! Gone is the slightly underwhelming entrance opposite a building site on Pennington Street, and instead people were greeted by the tall ships at Tobacco Dock before passing through the bespoke branded archway.
Wow, what a month! I knew #GinADayMay would keep me busy but I didn’t expect it to be quite that bonkers. And then there were the gin releases, gin events and gin deliveries… Read on if you, like me, need a bit of a reminder of what happened this May.
Between celebrating a big birthday and despairing over (what I like to call Bloody) Brexit, March has been a seriously boozy month for me! So when better to start my new gin monthly column? The idea is to have a personal round-up of what has caught my eye and tickled my tastebuds this month. It’s a bit of a work in progress, so I’d love to hear your feedback below about what you like, what could be improved, and which gins you’ve enjoyed this month.
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 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.
The world of gin is a fast-paced one and there are few places where that is more evident than at Junipalooza. Last year, I attended as a lucky competition winner and it was that experience that spurred me on to start this blog. This year, I was fortunate enough to be invited back as a “gin-sider”, so to speak. And I’m not the only one: last year Finlay and Eileen Geekie attended as members of the public; this year they were behind the stall of their very own, highly acclaimed, Colonsay Gin.
With the boom in gin showing no sign of abating, the number of subscription services continues to grow. There is now a wealth of choice in the miniatures market with five companies, including Gin Explorer and Little Gin Box, launching in 2016. Until recently though the Craft Gin Club, launched in January 2015, was the only gin subscription service offering full size bottles delivered to your doorstep. Now The Juniper Club is squaring up to them.
Now renowned for its salmon fishing and wonderful scenery, the Blackwater River in south-east Ireland was once at the heart of the Empire built on gin. White’s of Waterford were, in the Victorian period, one of the largest importers of spices in the British Isles. Their vessels would return to Waterford from the far east with new teas, herbs and botanicals which would then be sent by steamer up the Blackwater River. They were landed at the pier in Cappoquin, barely a kilometre from today’s Blackwater Distillery.