As you may know, I’m a big supporter of IOW Distillery. Our history goes back a long way, when I had only been writing the blog for a ahort time and I took a trip to meet Xav and see what they were about.

If you want to read that post from way back when, you can here.

Seeing as we go back, I like to keep up with what their doing and I love to see their progress. So, with this in mind, I was really pleased to receive this update on their latest victory:

31st October 2019

Plastic-free packaging prevails: The Isle of Wight Distillery celebrates international design award.

Just six months after the relaunch of Mermaid Gin, the island spirit has been presented with a prestigious international award. Coming up against competition from around the world, Mermaid Gin was awarded first place in the International Wine and Spirit Competition for its strikingly sculpted design, which is 100% plastic-free, with a wood topped cork and unique plant-based tamper proof seal.

Xavier Baker, co-founder at the Isle of Wight Distillery said:
“This award is proof that a commitment to being plastic-free and 100% recyclable doesn’t mean you have compromise on style. Thanks to a brilliant team and our partners, we’ve managed to balance both. This is such a prestigious award – we couldn’t be more pleased. It’s really an award for this innovative island as much as Mermaid.”

Watch the judges discuss their decision here.
Mermaid Gin is available to purchase at The Isle of Wight Distillery and from
http://www.isleofwightdistillery.com @iowdistillery (Twitter) / @isleofwightdistillery (IG) / @iowdistillery (FB) / http://www.isleofwightdistillery.com Mermaid Gin wholesalers: Enotria, Master of Malt, Amathus, Tolchards Drinks, Nectar Drinks, LWC.

Great work guys! I remember my last visit to the new distillery and bar, when you showed me the bottle for the first time. It’s such a gorgeous thing and clearly the product of a lot of thought, consideration and love. I’m not at all surprised that it’s doing so well. Keep up the good work!

Competition – Win a bottle of Pinkster!

Are you a Pinkster fan? Hopefully so. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s a lovely gin and very well established, taking it’s place in the market long before the boom in fruity ‘pink’ gins. Made with real raspberries, it’s lovely when served with light tonic and raspberry with mint garnish. As well as pioneers of pink, Pinkster are also keen on sustainability which is a hot topic at the moment. They recycle their gin soaked raspberries into their delicious ‘boozy berries’ and ‘gin jam’ and this year they released their ‘bag in a box’ Pinkster on tap. If you’d like to see a little more of what they do then pop across to their website. Whether you’ve already tried it or not, have I got a little treat for you! Read on to see how you can win a bottle.

Pinkster x Debretts 2

Pinkster have recently carried out some fun research with etiquette authority Debrett’s. Debrett’s are a professional coaching company, publisher and authority on etiquette. Established in 1769, they’ve seen all sorts of changes in society and social behaviour. Along with Pinkster, they have produced a fun guide which highlights the challenges of organising a girls’ night out and gives 10 top tips for avoiding etiquette pitfalls. Now I, for one, am not a one to be told what to do. However, I am also very much a one who suffers from foot in mouth. And, at times, a little social anxiety. So, I’d be very interested in seeing what tips it has to offer. So, to celebrate this helpful little thing, I’m running a competition across my social media to win a copy, along with a 70cl bottle of Pinkster gin.

Pinkster x Debretts Lifestyle 2

TEN GOLDEN RULES FOR A GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT, ACCORDING TO DEBRETT’S AND PINKSTER GIN

Phone amnesty, next day social sharing and other etiquette tips

Research commissioned by Pinkster Gin reveals that 83% of British women aged 25-55 find it stressful arranging a group night out. Nearly two thirds (63%) cited finding a date that suits everyone as the most common cause of stress, followed by getting friends to actually commit to the evening (46%).

People constantly on their phones (28%), friends suggesting somewhere too expensive (27%), and disputes over the bill (26%), were revealed as the biggest annoyances on the night itself, together with embarrassing photos being uploaded on social media (20%), too many selfies being taken (15%), and pals bragging about their children (14%).

These research findings have prompted Pinkster Gin join forces with etiquette authority Debrett’s and publish a handbook for taking the stress out of group gatherings.

The Girls’ Guide To Having Fun (In an Orderly Fashion) identifies the top ten party pitfalls and provides advice on how to avoid them.

Will Holt, director of Pinkster Gin, said: “We might be communicating with each other more than ever, but actually corralling and controlling a group of friends seems to be a minefield of social dilemmas.

“In a sign of the times, our research showed that the biggest bugbear on an evening out is friends being glued to their phones, ahead of disputes over splitting thebill.

“As the pink gin pioneer, we’ve fuelled many a girl’s night out and hopefully our practical tips will help ensure that your next get-together is the spirited success it deserves to be.”

Renée Kuo, managing director of Debrett’s said: “The Pinkster poll reveals that arranging a night out with friends can be fraught with challenges and that far from improving communication, our digital devices often hinder it instead.

“We were delighted to work with Pinkster on this new ten-point guide, which offers advice for overcoming a range of etiquette obstacles, including a meandering WhatsApp group, friends paying more attention to their phones than the conversation, and an unwelcome exposé of the night’s events on social media. This all goes to show that etiquette is as relevant now as it’s ever been.”

The guide light-heartedly highlights ten scenarios and how to tackle them:

The Whatsapp Planning Committee – go bold with dates and venues, and spare anyone who couldn’t make the evening a running commentary.

The Contagious Phone-Reach – agree a phone amnesty with devices out of sight at least for the meal, if not the whole evening.

The Unsplittable Bill – if you know certain pals are watching their spending, offer to knock a bit of their share, they can always turn you down if they prefer to keep it equal.

The Not-So Humble Brag – tempting as it may be to engage in one-up(wo)manship if someone starts waxing lyrical about her eldest’s glittering SAT results, simply smile and offer your congratulations.

How do you win? Well, I’ll be sharing this post across my social media platforms. All you need to do is comment underneath, tagging the 3 friends you’d like to enjoy a night with. I’ll be selecting one person to win a 70cl bottle of Pinkster, to get your night started and a copy of the guide to help you plan it.

Rules

  • Competition runs from 7pm Friday 20th September 2019 and closes 7pm Sunday 22nd September 2019.
  • Competition is open to UK residents, 18+ only.
  • Sorry, only one entry per person. If you’re found to be using a duplicate account, your entry will be void, so play fairly please!
  • No purchase required to win this. Simply tag 3 friends on either the Twitte, Facebook or Instagram post sharing this article.
  • Please be aware if you have been tagged, this doesn’t mean you’ve been entered. You’ll need to then tag 3 friends to be entered yourself.
  • Once the competition closes, I’ll select one winner at random. The winner will be announced on Monday 23rd September and I’ll get in touch to request an address for postage.

So, what are you waiting for? Get tagging!

ADI Judging of Craft Spirits 2020 – Registration Open!

ADI-logo

For those of you who remember, I was lucky enough to go to San Francisco earlier in the year to judge for the ADI, in their Judging of Craft Spirits. Luckily for me, they like what I do so I’ve been invited back for next year.

I’ve recently had word that registration to enter your spirit in the competition has opened!

As director of the American Distilling Institute’s Judging of Craft Spirits it is my privilege to tell you that registration for our 2020 competition is open. The Judging of Craft Spirits is the oldest and most respected spirits competition dedicated to producers of craft spirits. We accept US and International entries in all classes and categories of distilled spirits, RTDs, cocktail bitters, aperitif & fortified wines from ADI Members as well as non-member small and medium-scale producers.
Medals for both the spirit and packaging are awarded only to those judged worthy of recognition. All entrants will receive written feedback with comments from the spirit judges. And, all entrants are evaluated to see if they meet the standards for ADI’s Certification of Craft Spirits at no additional cost or paperwork. Award winners will receive physical awards as well as a digital renderings of all applicable medals, awards and certifications.
For any international spirit not yet exported to the US we also provide a free online COLA Waiver application which allows you to legally ship samples to our competition that do not have a certificate of label approval from the US Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. December 22, 2019 is the last day to apply for the waiver and all spirits registered before December 29, 2019 will automatically receive our early-bird discount, and save $50/spirit entered.
For more information, please go to www.distilling.com/judging, feel free to contact me directly, or click the link to Enter Today!

As well as this, I’ve had a further email offering discounts for certain spirits.

In addition, we have created a few discount codes for international producers who may not be members of ADI. If you know any international spirits that falls into one of the below categories please feel free to share a discount code with them.
Code Group
2020BNIA Armagnac
2020BNIC Cognac
2020IBRAC Cachaça
2020PISCO Pisco
2020AGAVE Mexican Spirits
These codes discount the entry fee for non-ADI members by $100/spirit, which is in addition to the $50/spirit early-bird discount if producers register before December 29, 2019.

I’ve been donning my judges hat at a few competitions now. And, the ADI Judging of Craft Spirits is one of my favourites. There are a fantastic crowd of industry people there, some top spirit connoisseurs. And, not only is it carried out professionally, but it’s friendly and really fun. I would thoroughly recommend checking out their site and considering entry. They receive entries of many different spirits from all over the world, and last year it was our very own Cotswolds Gin that took the gin title.

If you’ve got any questions, do feel free to ask. And, if I can’t answer, I’ll certainly put you in touch with someone who can.

News: Verdant Gin wins tender to supply gin to the House of Commons

I received a rather interesting email today from Ginger PR on behalf of Verdant Spirits and Avian:

 

 Order! Order! Verdant Gin Wins Tender to Supply Gin to the House of Commons.

The House of Commons has awarded Dundee distillery, Verdant Spirits, the contract to be their sole supplier of a House of Commons Gin with a special edition of their award-winning spirit. Verdant Spirits will not only provide their gin but will also deliver expert training and tastings for the House of Commons team and members.

Voted Scottish Gin of the Year at the inaugural Scottish Gin awards, Verdant Dry Gin, crafted in Dundee’s first distillery for almost 200 years, fought off a shortlist of five from a number of UK national brands including incumbent supplier, Sipsmith.

Verdant won the prestigious tender after scoring top marks in the blind taste test and wowing judges with their presentation at the Houses of Parliament. Their proposal, developed in collaboration with Dundee design agency Avian, put forward an entirely new visual treatment and packaging concept marrying the Verdant Spirits and House of Commons branding.

Verdant Spirits & House of Commons Pack Shot

Bespoke boxed packaging was created replacing Verdant’s original graphics with a specially designed House of Commons treatment, with feedback from the House of Commons stating the judges were ‘blown away by the whole package’.

Andrew Mackenzie, Founder and Managing Director at Verdant, said: “We spent two years researching and finessing the perfect dry gin and we firmly believe in our product, but it still felt fantastic to win out in the taste test. To really show our commitment to the process, we didn’t want to simply add a logo or brand to the bottle, we wanted to create a truly co-branded product.”

Scott McCallum, MD of Avian, said: “By creating an entirely new label and specialised packaging solely for the House of Commons, we retained the integrity of both the Verdant Spirits brand and the historic House of Commons identity, whilst also creating shelf appeal. This balance of both brands in one product really resonated with the judging panel as they recognised the all-out effort to secure this prestigious opportunity.”

Andrew added: “We hope that this exciting new development signals a significant opportunity for the Verdant Spirits brand to be elevated to the next level, and also highlights and encourages the further investment and partnership we are currently seeking.”

L-R Scott McCallum and Andrew Mackenzie
Scott McCallum and Andrew MacKenzie

This marks the second time the contract has been awarded since Sipsmith were chosen to serve back in 2016.

Verdant Dry Gin is distilled in small batches in a 500-litre pot still, embodying the spirit of its home city, Dundee, with the highest quality ingredients sourced globally reflecting the shipping and trading heritage of the city.

Verdant is available in a number of premium bars and restaurants and stocked in Harvey Nichols, The Kitchin and Montpeliers in Edinburgh, as well as a number of independent retail outlets.

For more information on Verdant Dry gin please visit: https://www.verdantspirits.co.uk/pages/about-us

 

Interesting stuff and it’s put me in a right pickle over how I feel. I love Sipsmith. Plus, considering their hand in the changes to legality that made such a huge contribution to the industry, it feels right that they held that spot. Then again, considering Scotland produces something like 70% of the UK’s gin and suffered at the implementation of various taxes on gin production over the centuries, it’s kind of nice that the spot has gone to a Scottish gin. What are your thoughts?

I do like to receive news. And, I’m am always happy to share under my news section, so if you’ve got any important announcements do send it my way.

Passion and Business – Junipalooza and Imbibe

Being a gin writer based outside of London isn’t always easy. Don’t get me wrong, there are great gin scenes happening all over the country. But, London is still a base and hot bed for shows, launches and other events.

And the last month has been particularly generous, what with two of the largest events on the calendar, Junipalooza and Imbibe. This year I was lucky enough to get to both. Here’s my round up.

Junipalooza

Junipalooza was an exciting event for me. I’ve been writing on gin for about four years. But, due to previous work commitments, this was the first one I’ve made it to and it was a real box ticked! Junipalooza is legendary in the gin world, it is some would say ‘the’ gin event of the year. Held at Tobacco Docks, a fabulous venue in London, it spans countless rooms with ninety odd stalls. Some were simple whereas others went all out, creating whole rooms like the Franklin and Sons experience room. The event was huge and I learnt the valuable trick that some people go to more than one session, a popular choice being the one Saturday session, then a Sunday session to break it up. I arrived slightly late and did an initial run round to get my bearings. Even doing this, and having a clearly marked map, and the event being incredibly well sign posted, I still managed to miss a whole room on the left hand side! I’m sorry guys!

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What I did make it to was great. As soon as I walked in I saw Xav’s happy face behind the IOW Mermaid gin stall. He had a new offering for me to try, getting on the pink train with the release of a strawberry Mermaid gin. Xav is a stickler for local produce so naturally the strawberries are sourced from the island. It’s a gorgeous spirit. The muddled sweetness of the fruit mingling ever so nicely with the elderflower and sicilian lemons of the gin. Their new bottle caused quite a stir yesterday and the new pink colouring for that edition is sure to be a definite hit. I also met a couple of lovely chaps from Belgium who are looking to launch their gin, the Drunken Horse, into the UK soon. It’s a good solid gin and I’ve got a little bottle to go into more details when it comes out so lets hold that thought for now.

Next up I sought out Jaisalamer. I have recently been sent a bottle which is in my reviewing queue. I was keen to see what it was about after trying Hapusa at Gin Live. It seems the terroir of Himalayan spirits add an element of mystical earth and spice and make for a beautiful and different style, built around fragrant notes and generous warm spices. The gentlemen on the stall were all lovely and serving a G&T with orange was a great serve indeed.

Taking a minute to contemplate the map, I was approached by Olivier and handed a mysterious plant. He has asked me to love it, nurture it and keep it alive for a project that Gin Foundry and Warner are working on, which should happen about August. I’d like to add that the plant, now identified as apple mint, is looking very happy on my windowsill, which is quite surprising considering my kittens love a nibble on a juicy plant.

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Boatyard Gin was certainly worth a visit. Having tried some of their vodka at a competition, I was surprised at the character, power and smoothness. It stood out to me so much, that a year down the line, I was immediately drawn to their stall. The chap there was lovely and keen to show me the gin wares. Their double juniper gin was incredible! So much flavour, really generous and a lovely mouthfeel. If you’ve not tried it yet then I suggest that you get on the case. I’m a big fan of their work. Speaking of overtly juniper gins, Never Never was another stall I discovered and their Juniper Freak gin has been making waves in the gin community and fellow bloggers have spoken very highly of it.

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One of the great things about the event was getting to meet people face to face that had only previously been voiced in email and social media. Bruce from Brentingby was a highlight for me and his grapefruit pomelo gin slushie was absolutely superb. The natural zing of the grapefruit was so refreshing on such a hot and busy day. Hats off to that Bruce, you’ve inspired me to try and source a slushie machine for home.

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I promised myself I’d sit in on a masterclass, just the one. It felt important to appreciate the offerings of the event, though I’ve held a few myself and the time felt too valuable to sit and learn stuff that I already knew. The Warner one seemed incredibly relevant for me. Tom Warner came to do a gin talk at the gin bar I worked in a few years ago, where I fell in love with it. I missed that class. And, even now, I feel like I missed out on something there, so I was keen to see him in person doing his thing. What a force of showmanship he is. After working on the Tinker stall for so long I do feel akin to people doing the job. It’s intense, repeating the same info, being asked the same follow up questions, and being able to do it with consistent energy and enthusiasm, treating the last set of customers with the same approach as the first. It really is a marathon and he didn’t let me down. He was informative, personable and funny. The room itself was gorgeous, with an incredible wall of flowers which they had built for a stand at the Chelsea flower show. Nature in a fundamental element of the botanicals and the process at Warner. They forage what they can in botanicals down at the farm, if they don’t find enough they’ll make less bottles, simple. That love and care really came out in the masterclass as well. Great stuff guys!

It was at this point I realised time was running out and discovered the missing room! I just had time to get in and see my chums at Bullards. Their London Dry is a favourite of mine, using Tonka beans which give it a wonderfully earthy, old cocoa/vanilla vibe, which is a contemporary twist but still very in keeping with what we want from a traditional London Dry, really well thought out flavour, that. And I managed to catch a brief chat with Martin from Pothecary, who is very much one of those online voices I engage with often, it was a pleasure to meet him in person.

There were so many stalls I missed! I’ve certainly learned my lesson. I’m making a full weekend of it next year. The vibe was just wonderful. Everyone was there for the gin. The crowds were friendly and it felt like a party, a party where we celebrated our mutual love of our favourite spirit. Next year I’m hitting a couple of sessions and I’m doing it properly.
Imbibe

In recent weeks I’ve lost a small sense of the urgency in my writing. I tend to find that whether it be a review or an event, I tend to sit and stew on the experience, giving time for the ideas to develop, much like leaving botanicals to macerate in a still. This tends to produce better writing. However, it does have draw backs, the most difficult to negotiate being the drive to complete the piece. I am trying to become more disciplined with this.

Saying that, I’m currently on a train heading home from London, where I came to Imbibe yesterday, and I am just compelled to write. This compulsion is one of the main reasons I write, the sentences flying out onto the screen quicker than I can comprehend them and my finger tips dance on words that fall away like the bricks of a path in a fantasy land.

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I went to Imbibe two years ago when I was working for Tinker and GinFestival.com. Dan and me drove down off the back of three days working at an event in Leeds. I was repping for PJ Gin at that event and it was one of largest in the season. Being on a stall promoting four gins to so many excitable people was hard and by the drive down I was losing my voice. Even so, when I walked into the Olympia for the first time, seeing that enormous space, chok full with every alcohol you could imagine, set ups of all sizes, I felt like I was in heaven. I remember saying that if the real world was that space, and walking around it was the every day, I’d be so happy. I promised myself I would go back one year as a punter, the other side of the bar and this year I got to fulfil that wish and it was glorious.

With so many stalls offering so many things, there’s really just not time to get around everyone and give them all the time that they deserve, but I tried my best. I found some great little gins there. The Old Curiosity Distillery with a Geranium and Mallow gin was a firm favourite of mine. The gentleman on the stall, another Bernie, was warm and spoke about the gins with great love. There are currently six in the range, all inspired by old recipes for medicines and tinctures, flavours like ‘lavender and echinacea’ and ‘chamomile and cornflower’ with all botanicals excluding the juniper, being grown on their‘almost organic’ farm. I do hope they send me a little something to review as the Geranium and Mallow was exquisite.

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It was great to see Greater Than Gin there too as it meant they also had a little set up for Hapusa. Mystic and fragrant, it’s a fantastic gin and one to get your hands on. The natural terroir of the Himalayas is just fab, as mentioned previously. Hapusa certainly leans more to the rich an fragrant aromatics, rather than Jaisalmers warm spice. The rep on the stall was fantastic. She was really passionate about the spirit and was a great example of how a rep can be just as enthusiastic as those that work in the distillery.

Masons had a lovely set up this year and it was such a pleasure to catch up with Luke Smith, formally of Poetic License, who had moved over to Masons last year. It was also an honour to meet ‘Mr Mason’ himself and finally try some of the Pink Peppered Pear, which has been on my radar for ages. Things seem to be going really well for them since the fire which is wonderful. They’re great company and they make fabulous gin. Their Yorkshire Tea Edition has always been a favourite of mine. It’s my go to tea at home and they do such a good job with the balance of it. If you’ve not tried it yet, put it on your list.

I hit up the Maverick Stall to say hello as I do a bit of writing for them. It was great to see they had the Boutique-y RTD range out which includes some right crackers, my favourite of which being the Spit Roasted Pineapple Mule, made with their pineapple gin, ginger ale and lime. It’s a gorgeous drink.

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Fancying something a little different I got chatting to a chap called Federico Pasian, Head of Mixology at Quaglino’s Mayfair. He made me an incredible cocktail called the Globetrotter. Made with Sauvelle vodka, Nocino de Modena, Oloroso, Banana, Peanut butter and Grapefruit. The flavour was absolutely amazing! Such unusual notes but mingling together in a beautiful smooth punchy sweetness. It was gorgeous.

I was super pleased to see Bruce at Breningtby again. After reviewing the Black Edition a few months ago, then meeting him at Junipalooza, it’s great to see him going for strength to strength with his gin. He’s recently launched an RTD of the Roobois and Baobab and it’s up there with my favourites on the market right now. Having missed out on the new barrel aged gin at Junipalooza, it was great to see it in the flesh and give it a go. I love an aged gin, but I find the balance needs to be just right, with enough juniper punching through. Brentingby is a boldly classic gin and holds it weight really well in the barrel ageing process. Sterling work Bruce!

As I final treat I got to say a quick hello to Steve Gould from Golden Moon Distillery, an American Distillery that I first discovered through a Boutique-y Gin collaboration. There were a great few products on the stall and it’s always a pleasure seeing Steve, as I catch him at a lot of gin competitions.

Before long I was feeling a little woozy, announcements were announcing the event was closed and staff were patiently ushering wobbly people towards the door. I’m sure local bars do a great trade today, the punters continuing the fun and discussion whilst the exhibitors are left to pack down their stalls, with the Olympia staff dismantling the set up around them. It’s really quite impressive how quickly it all disappears, until next year.

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It’s an interesting vibe at Imbibe. The event is aimed at trade and industry types and naturally this does mean a lot of the conversation comes down to business, rather than the love of distilling. This has the unfortunate setback in cultivating certain attitudes where words cost money. Let’s be honest, anyone selling the gin wants to make money. However, there were various instances where I was greeted with an attitude of ‘what can you do for me, is it worth me talking to you’. I was the lone blogger ignored at one stall and on another asked my credentials as if I had to prove my worth for being there. There were points where the speils ran dry quite quickly when they realised I wasn’t about to put a case a week on repeat order. Whilst I totally understand that it’s an industry event, and it takes a lot of stamina handling so many people, having been that side of the bar, I do feel it’s worth a gentle reminder that if you’re going deal with the hospitality trade, you should be hospitable. Still, I was already expecting some of this before I went and I don’t think it’s the fault of the event at all, it’s just the nature of business.

So, Junipalooza is mostly for the gin drinker and Imbibe is for trade. They’re two completely different experiences but are great none the less. There’s lots to be learnt and tried at each one. If I had I had to pick one of the two then Junipalooza would definitely be my preference. But, luckily for me, I don’t have too, so I’ll be going back to both next year. Just as a final note, I’d like to say a huge thank you to the organisers of both events. They’re just so big, it must take a lot of time to do it and we in the drinking world salute you.

Win! Tickets to the Taste of London Show, in association with Puerto de Indias!

Have I got a treat for you!

I’ve teamed up with to offer 2 lucky winners tickets to the Taste of London Show!

Puerto de Indias Strawberry Gin is giving you the chance to win 2 tickets to Taste of London next week! Join Puerto de Indias Strawberry Gin in Regents Park for the ultimate foodie paradise, with culinary masterclasses from world-class chefs, cocktail demonstrations and live entertainment!”

There is SO MUCH going on at this show. Rather than me list at all here, click here to be directed to the Taste of London website.

Each winner will win 2 tickets so they can go and take a friend. Tickets are for the evening session, 5.30pm – 9.30pm, Friday 21st June.

Puerto Image

“With spring in the air – finally! – there is no better time to treat yourself to a delicious G&T. Puerto de Indias, the distiller of Puerto de Indias premium gins, has officially launched its hugely popular Strawberry Gin to the UK this month, and its set to tickle customers pink.

With pink gin quickly becoming a favourite in recent months and a firm staple on drinks
shelves across the country, gin lovers will be delighted with the news. Gin has exploded in popularity over the last few years, and it doesn’t look set to stop any time soon.
Amazingly, the first batch of the gin was made by accident after brothers Jose Antonio and Francisco Rodriguez Fernandez were trying to create a strawberry liqueur which resulted in this fashionably fruit-forward Spanish gin.

Puerto de Indias Strawberry Gin is crafted in traditional copper stills in Seville’s oldest
distillery. The worldwide bestseller is made with delicious strawberries grown locally in Seville, with 100% natural ingredients and boasts a deliciously sweet, smooth taste with hints of citrus and aniseed as well as the iconic strawberry flavour. On the nose, the gin explodes with strawberry flavour and a touch of juniper and aniseed, making it the perfect pairing for a premium tonic water.

With a crowd of loyal customers in native Spain amassing sales of six million bottles in 2018 alone, it is the fourth bestselling gin in Spain and ranks on the list of top ten gins worldwide.

The gin takes on the stunning pink colour of the strawberries, giving it a vibrant look, which guarantees to grab attention. The perfect serve for Puerto de Indias Strawberry Gin is over ice, garnished with fresh strawberry slices and a wedge of lime, topped up with premium tonic water.”

So how do you go about winning this glorious prize?

I’ve shared this post via a tweet. Find the tweet (it’s probably what’s led you here, if not you’ll find it pinned to the top of my Twitter profile), comment on it with who you would take and share.

T&Cs: The competition opens 9pm Friday 14th June 19 and closes 9pm Sunday 16th June 19. The 2 winners will be announced Monday, each winning 2 tickets, when I will also contact you for your address to send them. Do keep an eye on your social media as we want to get them out first class asap Monday to ensure they arrive in time for Friday 21st June. One entry per person. Over 18s only.

Happy Giniversary to me! – Four years since my first post!

Four years ago today, I posted my first post on this blog, and what a wonderful four years it has been!

Although it feels peculiar, and maybe a little self indulgent, to write about me rather than someone else, it feels right to take a moment of reflection and to size up my progress. Reading my first ever post, a brief introduction to the blog and how I was at that point just falling into love with gin, is actually quite emotional. Initially I spoke to distillers that came into the bar I worked in. One of the first pieces I wrote on a distiller and their gin was Paul Bower of Twisted Nose. Although I was lucky to have the access to distillers that I did through my job, I was keen to get further afield to visit some distilleries. In those early days I would contact distillers through Twitter and ask if I could visit. Sometimes I would hear back, sometimes I wouldn’t. Of those that let me arrange a visit, some would treat me like royalty, others would give me ten minutes and seemed suspicious that I was only in it for the booze, quite certain that they were never going to hear from me again. And no, I won’t divulge who.

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A rather happy girl. This is when I received the semi finalist for remote tasting in the World Gin Awards 18. 

Now, I absolutely understood that it would be this way until I built a reputation and I tried very hard to build a good one. I am a conscientious writer. Despite my cheeky nature, I try to be fair and respectful in what I say, both in my posts and my social media. I like to encourage and motivate others to do well in their gins and their blogs too. It was important to me to be reliable and early on, writing those first few reviews, I actually sent them off to the distiller to look over, as I was concerned that perhaps I had made a mistake with a detail and was terrified of putting up something that was ‘incorrect’. I know, I know. I lacked confidence back then. That all changed when I met Alfie Amayo, who at the time, was working as a Brand Ambassador of COLD. I had an amazing night in the distillery talking shop with him. At the end I asked if I could send him my article to check. He looked at me, saying nothing for a short while. Eventually he said “No. I don’t want you to send it to me. It’s your work, it’s your thoughts. You shouldn’t ever send it to anyone. You put it up for you.” That really resonated with me. In the early days you feel that you were doing it for others, but really, you’re doing it for you. That moment changed everything for me. That’s when I really started to feel like Under the Ginfluence was mine.

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Alfie Amayo of COLD and myself after a long night of talking shop, as you can tell from my eyes!

Blogging is very much a labour of love. You do it because you love it. Not because you’re trying to make anything from it. I think that if you did, you would lose patience. It took time toiling over posts to get a like, perhaps a share. There were points when I would feel disheartened. But, I somehow found myself seeking out the next gin to write about. I had a compelling curiosity to find out the information for me. And, I just love to write so sharing came naturally. I found I revelled in storytelling, in sharing my rather infectious enthusiasm with others.

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Gin of the Year at Bombay Sapphire Distillery. Left is Ginadingding, myself, Whatskatiedoing and Steph from Boutigue-y Gin

The first brand to contact me to write on their gin was Batch, and in June 2015 they sent me a bottle of their Premium Gin. I still remember how excited I was, how my hands clumsily unwrapped the package and cradled the bottle as if some sort of trophy. I had the most fabulous day trying it with different mixers to see which worked best. I was so proud of the fact that I’d been contacted, rather than contacting other people. It was a sign that things were starting to grow.

And grow they did. Especially when I met David T Smith, Gin Expert and Historian, on the deck of HMS Victory, for the opening ceremony of HMS Victory Cask Aged Gin. I was fascinated with his knowledge and we met up to talk about gin. I was hoping to write a feature on him for my blog, but as it happens we never got to that. He was more interested in what projects I could help him with. He has been intrinsic to a lot of opportunity for me, especially the judging. I owe you a big thank you, David.

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On HMS Victory for the opening ceremony for the first cask on HMS Victory Cask Aged Gin. Some of the staves were wood from the Victory herself. A very special gin.

The judging has been an incredible development. David picked up on my ability to taste and asked me to help out at Gin of the Year, held at Bombay Sapphire Distillery. Visiting the distillery alone was a joy and I felt really privileged to be a judge. I found I really enjoyed getting stuck into the differences in flavour, and how the gin worked. I loved sussing out the quality and seeing how the gin alludes to what it claims to be. It really was the start of something special. I still do Gin of the Year, and now also the World Gin Awards, have recently judged at the American Distilling Institutes Judging of Craft Spirits in San Francisco (there are nine posts on my blog, one for each day of the trip and you can find the first one here). And, in July I’ll be at the IWSC for all four days of the gin judging, which is a big box tick for me. Judging has become a key part of what I do. It has allowed me to taste such a huge variety of gin and really pay attention to each one. It’s also been fantastic for networking. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, the gin industry is incredibly friendly. I now have a little gin family spread far and wide and bumping into any of them at an event is a delight.

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Judging for the American Distilling Institute in San Francisco. Definitely one of the best adventures that I’ve had.

Networking opportunities also grew during my time working for GinFestival.com. Almost every week I’d be in a different city, with different brands on stalls. I made the most of that to talk to them all, try all the gin and look to arrange write ups. One of my favourites from this period was Cotswolds Distillery. Written in June 2017, the article hardly seems relevant now, but I still love it. Since that was posted they’ve released their whisky to great acclaim and have finished building their visitor centre. I’ve got a lot of love for their distillery and they know it. As well as Networking, GinFestival.com taught me the valuable skill of the masterclass. A few years ago I was scared to get on stage and read my poetry. At GFs height, I was holding masterclasses for almost 200 people a time.

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Masterclass at Gin Festival Portsmouth. Photo courtesy of Tom Marshall photography. http://www.hobotomphotography.com

I should add as well, that GF brought me my Gin Festival family who were the most amazing set of people to work with. We worked hard and played hard. The year I had touring around with them will always have a massive place in my heart. I love you team.

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Pack down of a GinFestival was often followed by a great after party, normally held in the lobby of a hotel.

Blogging is a beast. Always there begging for attention and for nurturing. My life has become more and more about gin. Anything I was doing, could it go on the blog? Sitting down to a meal with a gin, I’m asking if should I take a photo to upload? Will it help my social media? I find it hard to leave things alone, even to my detriment and it all became a little obsessive. In the years since I started blogging, my life has become much more busy. I’ve studied and completed a BA in English and Creative Writing, I’m now half way through an MA in CW, and I’m now a self employed writer, as well as working at the University. So, I’ve had to lay a few rules to myself as otherwise it could all get a little too much. Sometimes the social media goes quiet for a few days. It’s ok, I’m just doing other life things. I used to stress myself out trying to turnaround a review in a matter of days. Now if someone contacts me, I give them an idea of lead time and give myself plenty of time to do it. I’ve learnt to relax in what I’m doing. It’s my ship. I’m in control. I’ll tell people how I work, rather than try and work like them. Taking these steps have been hugely beneficial to my mental well being and my productivity.

So, if you made it to the end of this, thank you! Here we are. I had other work to do today. Yet, I’ve just spent the last four hours sat here, writing this. It is a compulsion. I am compelled to write. I do it because I love it. I do it because I love gin.

Bringing it Home – The Gin Sessions, Hayling Island, Saturday 1st June 2019

I’m very pleased to say I’ll be dusting off my masterclass hat to make a special appearance at a great event lined up for Hayling Island on Saturday 1st June.

Now you may have read my previous post on The Gin Sessions, if not then I recommend you get the background on The Gin Sessions and it’s importance to me here. Unfortunately I was unable to attend last year as I was at a family event. But now, my time has come and I’m thoroughly looking forward to teaching a little gin history.

As well as the gin bars, Brockmans will have a stand for you to indulge in their trademark decadent spirit. And, there will also be an appearance from the recently launched Portsmouth Distillery and their gin. Based in Fort Cumberland, Eastney, this is a great opportunity to meet them and get to know their spirit, Fort gin, and what else they are up to.

I had a quick catch up with Gin Sessions herself, Naomi Good:

I’m really looking forward to returning to Hayling Island, and sharing my love of gin. We will have all the usual antics, live music, street food, over sixty gins, a cocktail bar, masterclasses, and industry experts.

For those of you who don’t know, Hayling Island is a gorgeous little retreat on the South Coast. The picturesque backdrop for parts of both Naomi and my childhoods, it has a special sentimental value to me and I’m going to take great pleasure in bring some of my knowledge to the party. It’ll be a great day, for sure.

You can get tickets for the event through Eventbrite. Hope to see you there!

Thunderflower Gin – Mystic Elixir

I’ve had Thunderflower Gin on my radar ever since I saw discerning gin drinker and ‘fellow blogger Sarah of Gin A Ding Ding singing it’s praises online. So, I’ve been patiently whispering words, waiting for the day to come when some would appear for me and behold, my quiet incantations have come good.

And, what a lovely little thing it is. Made in a nano distillery in Teignmouth, Devon, it was originally created by Dominic and Annica O’Nions, a husband and wife team. The original inspiration was a gin for their own personal drinking pleasure. Good on them! They have created something really special! For two whole years they kept this treasure to themselves before releasing it for sale in 2018. They upgraded to a 200L still and now distil proudly using the one-shot method. All the botanicals are infused in a vapour basket and only spring water to dilute the spirit down to 42%. Marvellous.

Even the name had a certain ‘mystical’ pull to it. Thunderflowers are small white flowers that grow on cottage roofs down Devon way. It’s said that they can ward of both Thunder and witchcraft. They sound like rather handy things to have around and they’re rather pretty too. They are slightly illusive online but that could be my researching skills. If anyone does have any further information on where these early fables come from please do let me know. I’d love to learn the story behind that.

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So what does it taste like? Well, firstly, don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s floral. There’s so much more to it than that. There is a wonderful kick of spice with botanicals like pink peppercorn and cardamom. And, sage and heather give a fantastic herbal quality that makes it a bold expression of the countryside. There’s a strength residing under such tranquillity. There’s something magical about it too. Something almost ancient. I can imagine it contained in bulbous glass bottles. An elixir, held on the shelves of witches or warlocks. A potion to cure all ills, and to lift the spirits of the ailed.

And, what is the recommended serve with this gin? I’m going to put it out there that for me, this gin is just so complex and it’s balanced, but busy.  This has made me a little particular on serves. Sipping this on it’s own is absolutely amazing and with a slight, light tonic, or even sparkling water just to pull the flavour out ever so slightly, it really is beautiful. My preferred garnish with with a slender wedge of lime to compliment it’s balance.

For cocktails, I would prefer to keep it simple, you don’t want that beautiful flavour to get too lost amongst any other elements. Maybe something like a gimlet, but with a hint of honey, as opposed to sugar, to respect the wild and natural concept of the spirit. You could try something with just a hint of lemon and thyme, to accent it’s herbacious qualities. That said, I think there is room to experiment a little in alchemy and create an amazing cocktail. But, you’d need to be very conscious not to overpower it with what you put in. I made a martini with this and Sacred English Dry Vermouth and I found that it works really rather well, with Sacred having a similar natural and wholesome essence to their vermouths. Lime is served as a perfect twist here. Please excuse my lack of martini glasses! I’ve collected a lot of little port and brandy style night cap glasses but need to work on martini and coupe glasses post haste.

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So as an overall opinion? I love it! Every aspect of this is a great gin to me. It’s flavour profile is spectacular, being wonderfully balanced yet complex and humble to the local terroir, including the ode to a local plant inspiring it’s identity. The genuine nature of the story of it’s conception and evolution from home hobby to business. It’s a wonderful example of modern gin in all it’s glory, yet strangely evocative of ancient times. It’s spectacularly done. Now then, I’m off to fix myself another martini.

You can buy Thunderflower from their online shop, along with other products such as Thunderflower granola. You can follow their Twitter here, and their Facebook here.

 

 

News – Hussingtree Gin – Asparagus Edition

Pleased to receive an email from Hussingtree Gin today with some news on a new release. Always happy to share new releases so do feel free to email me with news! Not sure how I feel about Asparagus gin, although I’m very curious as to how it could be used in cocktails:

We’re really excited to announce that the new addition to our range is Asparagus Dry Gin. A truly unique premium dry gin using Worcestershire asparagus as a main botanical.

Numerous distillers in the past have attempted to incorporate asparagus into their gins, but with varied success. We have spent over six months experimenting with distilling processes and botanical blends, to understand the best way to unlock the vegetable’s flavour. And we’re thrilled with the result.
Distilled using the one shot method in a traditional alembic copper still, the result is an incredibly smooth, distinctive dry gin.
Through distillation the asparagus delivers an earthy, nutty-sweetness on the palate. Our blend of botanicals, enhanced by local brine salt that’s added during the distillation process, complements its characteristics wonderfully.

Garnish your Hussingtree Asparagus G&T with a couple of fresh mint leaves. Perfect for springtime.

We’ll be launching our Asparagus Dry Gin to coincide with the British Asparagus Festival, which kicks off on 23rd April at The Fleece Inn, Bretforton. We’ll then be at a number of events during the subsequent weeks, including The Worcester Gin Festival and The Three Counties Spring Show. Visit the events page on our website by clicking here to find out more. A few new dates will be added shortly.

Bottles of our Asparagus Gin will be on the shelves at a select number of bars, hotels, venues and retailers. And of course, you can purchase a bottle (available as both 350ml and 700ml) from our website when it’s available later in the month. We’ll drop you an email to let you know when it’s online for purchase.

You may also notice in the pic above that our labels have evolved. 

These are being launched at the same time as our Asparagus Gin. The new labels provide greater stand out on shelf and improved differentiation between the variants in our growing gin range.

Enjoy your next tipple!
The Hussingtree Team