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.
As the nights draw in and the temperatures begin to drop, the promise of picking sloes from the hedgerows to transform into a deep mid-winter treat can set the spirits soaring. The first thing you’ll have to do, though, is find a Blackthorn tree – and if you’re not confident, please do some research. You really don’t want to end up with Deadly Nightshade gin by mistake! I picked mine in deepest, darkest Dorset with all the family, kids and dogs in tow (there’s nothing quite like a bit of child labour after all!), but if you can’t find them in the wild you should be able to pick them up at a market or even online.
Now, more than ever, people like to know the provenance of the food and drink they consume and you can’t argue with the provenance of Six O’Clock Gin. Six O’Clock Gin is produced by Bramley & Gage, a family-run business still going from strength to strength after 28 years. Now a working distillery based outside Bristol, Bramley & Gage was cultivated on a fruit farm in South Devon in the mid-1980s. The farm itself wasn’t doing particularly well so founders, Edward Bramley Kain and Penelope Gage, started experimenting with surplus fruit to make strawberry, raspberry and blackcurrant liqueurs using a traditional french maceration method. The liqueurs were a great success and it wasn’t long before a sloe gin was added to the range.