As the UK enters the 9th week of lockdown caused by the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic all events for the summer are rightly cancelled or postponed until we can safely reduce social distancing. If you are anything like me, as well as sorely missing your family & friends, you are also sad to not be attending food and drink festivals as you normally would & making new discoveries.
Thankfully the food and drink world is innately innovative and there are creative ideas popping up all the time! One of those is the switch to online, virtual gin festivals by individual distillers and the drinks industry events teams. When I spotted a Virtual Gin Festival hosted by Prosecco & Gin Events for the bank holiday weekend I couldn’t resist signing up for the tasting for a fun (virtual) evening with an equally gin loving friend!
How it works
After registering and paying for the event on the website, you receive a confirmation email detailing when to expect your gin delivery the week before the tasting. You will be provided with the details for a private Facebook group to join ahead of the event. You will need to prove you purchased a pack to join, but this is very easy to do.
The kit itself contains 4 x 50ml of featured distillery gins and 4 cans of Fentimans tonic. This will be sufficient for the equivalent of 8 G&T’s, so the packs are suitable for 2 people or allow you to try the serving and the cocktail options. There is also a a well-written & detailed tasting guide including a list of the suggested garnishes you will want to have for the evening. Plus remember to have a good meal/snacks available as it is a fairly substantial amount of alcohol in 2 hours if you are keeping up with the sessions!
On the night, you simply log in to the exclusive event to stream the four 30 minute sessions from each distiller as they talk you through their journey to gin distilling, the flavour profiles, the perfect G&T serving and also a cocktail for each gin! The videos are saved so you can rewatch them at a later date, or if you have any internet issues on the day.
The week before the event the distilleries who would be hosting the sessions were revealed & I was very excited that 3 of the 4 would be new discoveries for me! Ready with all of my garnishes, gins, tonic and glasses I logged in to the sessions ready to learn more and expand my gin knowledge!
First up was the one gin I have tried several times before, Pinkster Gin. A natural dry gin flavoured by using fresh raspberries which are then macerated and muddled to create a refreshing drink with a soft mouth feel. The gin has a strong crisp juniper flavour which is painstakingly balanced with some peppery undertones and the sweetness of the raspberry that also give it it’s natural blush colour.
The perfect serve is Pinkster gin mixed with either an Indian or light tonic, with plenty of ice, raspberry and a sprig of well-spanked fresh mint. Yes you read the correctly, the technical term is ‘spanked’ mint rather than bruised! One thing I learnt is that submerged garnishes are largely for decoration, but those which are on the surface enhance flavours. That’s why it’s important to activate the mint to release the oils for the aroma and flavour.
I also used half of the miniature to make my take on the Pinkster Gimlet demonstrated. I adapted mine as I unfortunately didn’t have all the necessary ingredients. Instead I mixed 25ml of Pinkster gin, 10ml sugar syrup, juice of half a lime, the raspberries from my G&T (now infused!) and ice. Once shaken I topped up with a little soda water for a vibrant fresh cocktail.
Only launched in 2019, North 42 gin was the brain child of restaurant owners Sally & Joanna. After months of tweaking using their combined food knowledge and love of pairing gin with delicious dishes they were able to launch Rhubarb & Blood Orange North 42 Gin.
The number 42 has many meanings to them as it’s the 42nd gin they stocked at their restaurant, it’s address and it’s 42% ABV! The gin is made using all natural ingredients, carrying a natural pink hue, although when you add ginger ale it will turn orange in colour!
The perfect G&T serve for this delicious gin is with a light Indian tonic, ice and an orange slice (either fresh or dehydrated). Before adding the tonic we were encourage to try the gin neat and it is smooth enough that you could definitely drink it this way – although do remember it’s strength! The first taste is definitely rhubarb, warmth from the coriander seed and then the afternote is the blood orange. Plus as they like to pair gin with food, it apparently would work beautifully with a prawn dish.
I think I will have to add the Leceister based North Bar & Restauarant to my travel wish list as after tasting this gin I would love to see what else they pair together in their tasting menus with paired gins!
Returning from an exciting trip around Southeast Asia in 2014, Sherwin & Tim decided to distill the essence of the the brilliant food and culture they had discovered. I have to agree with them that there is a distinct lack of gin distilled in Asia, apart from Filipino gin that actually makes up 43% of world consumption, but is rarely exported outside of the Philipines!! Therefore the uniqueness of Asian flavours is definitely missing from the gin scene, until now!
The Southeast Asian dry gin contains 4 ingredients to give it the taste of Asia, one from each country they visited. Calamansi, Thai sweet basil, Galangal and Kampot Pepper. These give the gin a citrus lead, with spice undertones and a long peppery finish. This makes the perfect serve with a slice of lime and a slice of ginger.
The gin gets it name from the small primate the Tarsier, which is super cute! It’s big eyes are actually bigger than it’s brain ad it’s only found in Southeast Asia. 10% of the profits of the company are committed to conservation projects to help protect this endangered species. As if you needed another reason to buy such a wonderful gin!
The cocktail serve for this was one I had to try, a Saigon Southside. This combines 20ml lime juice, 20ml sugar syrup, 50ml of Tarsier gin, plus 4 spanked mint and 2 kaffir lime leaves before shaking. You can add lemongrass, ginger or chilli if you wish too. Shake, strain and top with soda water to serve. A very refreshing martini or long drink!
Locksley Distilling Co.
The final gin of the evening was the Sir Robin of Locksley, the flagship product from Locksley Distilling Co. This gin was designed to be sweeter than a regular dry gin, but not quite at the levels of an Old Tom, which makes it a perfect neat sipping gin. The range features several unique style of gin like a Raspberry & Cardamom pink gin and a VSOT which combines the idea of a Navy Strength & an Old Tom gin in one.
There were two suggestions for the perfect serve as the smooth nature of the gin works well in several ways. Firstly with light Indian tonic and dehydrated grapefruit, this is better than fresh as fresh citrus can inhibit the efferversence of the tonic. The other alternative is to pair with an elderflower tonic, which will enhance the sweetness of the gin.
I had such a fun evening at the Virtual Gin Festival! Video chat has come into its own and I loved being able to ‘share’ the festival with a friend, as I think that is a huge part of the experience. Whilst it doesn’t replace attending one in person, this was a great way to connect with distillers and try some new delicious gins. If you are looking for an enjoyable ‘night out’ with some friends I’d definitely recommend this and I’ll be on the lookout for more virtual events to keep me entertained!
Cost: £25 per pack – this makes 8 single G&T’s.
Website: Prosecco & Gin Events
Date: May 2020