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.
Most of us have done it; criticised a product, declared we could do better and dreamed of making it big. Few of us have the guts and wherewithal to give it a go, fewer still the talent to make it a success. But two friends from Dorset have done just that and set the gin world alight. In a true rags-to-riches tail, Lukasz Dwornik and Martin Jennings have, in little more than 18 months, gone from bemoaning the average gins on offer in their local pub to producing one of the most critically acclaimed British gins on the market.
Many people would raise their eyebrows at the notion of drinking gin before midday, and many more would raise objections to drinking neat gin at 11am. But not the ginthusiasts who descended upon Wapping early this morning and formed a long snaking queue to gain entry to Junipalooza at Tobacco Docks. And if they needed an excuse they were conveniently given one in the guise of World Gin Day.