If there has ever been a gin festival in a more incongruous location, I’m yet to hear of it. The newest addition to the festival scene opened its doors in Catford in south east London; a priority area for regeneration in the Borough of Lewisham. More unusually, those doors opened into an empty retail unit located in Catford Shopping Centre, which was purchased by the council in 2010 as a sign of commitment to the transformation of the local area. And things got stranger still when you made your way into the bar on the top floor, which opened out directly into the enormous shopping centre car park where the festival’s street food vendors had set up stall!
Gin-lovers, I find, are a friendly bunch and if there’s one thing we love almost as much as drinking gin it’s introducing our friends (and their friends!) to our latest discoveries and favourite tipples. So what better way to share the passion, and show the gin-lover in your life just how much you love them, than with a gorgeous gin gift box? Bottle in a Box offer just such a service and I was lucky enough to receive one of their beautiful boxes.
In a recent interview with The Gin Guide I was asked what my top tip was for people just starting to discover gin. My answer? Get yourself to a gin festival; quite probably the most fun and relaxing way to learn about gin and discover what you like, love and occasionally even loathe! There are, thankfully, plenty of festivals taking place up and down the country nowadays, and each one tends to have a slightly different set-up, but one of the newest and most exciting has got to be The Catford Gin Festival in south east London.
There is something of the perfectionist apparent in the packaging of the 6 O’Clock Gin range, with its clean lines and bold yet intricate cog pattern. And little wonder really. 6 O’Clock gin was inspired by the engineer Edward Kain, great-grandfather of the founder, Michael. Mr Kain sr was clearly a man with a fine eye for detail – as well as a great fondness for gin – he once said that any intricate blueprint demands and deserves balance, poise and precision; the mantra by which 6 O’Clock Gin is still created.
If you’re anything like me, then your heart most likely skips a beat every time you spot a new gin on social media. And then sinks a little with the realisation that there is yet another product you have to add to your must-try list and attempt to track down. And it’s hard enough to keep up with just the UK gins. Don’t even get me started on the European and worldwide gins. It is nigh on impossible to keep up with the insatiable growth in the market at the moment but a new gin subscription service from Master of Malt may just keep you one step ahead of most of the rest of us.
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a mixologist, Think Gin Club could be the gin subscription service you’ve been looking for. At £40 a box, Think Gin Club offers equivalent value for money to Craft Gin Club and The Spirits Society but, in addition to the usual full-size bottle of craft gin, mixers and snacks, members also receive a mixology tool with every box.
The Drifters knew what they were talking about when they wrote Up On The Roof. And Gin Mare clearly know everything is all right up top too, as they launched their second annual Med Rooftops event in London on 20 July 2017. This year’s stunning event took place at The Institute of Engineering and Technology on Savoy Place overlooking the Thames. In keeping with the gin’s Mediterranean theme – its botanicals feature olives from Spain, thyme from Turkey, rosemary from Greece and basil from Italy – the rooftop was bedecked with olive trees, fragrant herbs and, of course, plenty of gin!
Imbibe Live is Europe’s largest on-trade drinks exhibition, showcasing an intimidating number of beers, wines, ciders and spirits. Even with my gin googles firmly on, there were more distilleries present than I could shake an empty glass at. With so much to see and so little time, I opted to skip past some of the more familiar (at least to me) and well-established brands, such as Sipsmith and Southwestern Distillery, but also, regrettably, missed out a few of the newer kids on the block like One Gin. Nonetheless, I definitely still succeeded in trying more gins than is probably wise on a Monday afternoon!
Gin is big in Spain. And so is the way they serve it. The instantly recognisable Gin Tonica is extravagantly served in a large fishbowl glass with generous mountains of ice and a tempting array of garnishes. Now one of Spain’s signature serves is making it big over here too with The Distillery’s Gin Tonica Bar launching last year. But if you can’t make it over to Spain, or indeed to West London, David T. Smith has just launched his own Gin Tonica book to help you make your very own Spanish cocktails at home.