I have attended my first Gin Festival experience at the Custard Factory last weekend. The event was sold out and I was lucky enough to visit it as a press guest. Gin is definitely my favourite spirit and I am always surprised by how much can we learn about this fine distilled spirit.
I am glad that festivals like this one come to Birmingham (and all over the UK) to present brands, cocktails and a lot of fun to gin enthusiastic like me. They also choose wicked venues to present the festival, and it couldn’t be in another place than the Custard Factory, in Digbeth, to feature the Brummie Gin fest.
The Gin Festival has the reputation of being the best event of its kind in the UK. A successful project that began in 2013 with husband and wife, Jym and Marie Harris, taking their passion for gin and turned it into a festival focused on this fine distilled drink.
The idea is creating a space where people drink and experiment with new and exciting gins, learn more about the spirits. Sounds great! And it is actually great!
If you never have been to the Gin Festival before, don’t worry. Right in the entrance, you have a brief (and effective) explanation of how the whole experiences works, together with a welcoming package that contains an exclusive glass, tote bag with the Gin Explorer Book with information about all exhibiting brands. As a blogger invited to the event, I got £20 in tokens which means four drinks freebie. Lovely!
So, we were ready to enjoy the day with these essential tools.
With the help of the book and some extra tokens that were providers to us, I have started the gindulgence of the day. There were over 100 brands from all over Europe. But I have learnt very quick which gin to try first. Plus, the best garnish and Fever tree tonic mixer to go with it. Brilliant!
I have to confess that getting a sample of different brands of gin brands, certainly, helped me to understand how diverse this distilled is, from small producers awarded-winning brands. And it is fascinating to see how many people, not just in Birmingham, are so excited about gin as well.
The Gin Festival is presented in London, Sheffield, Liverpool, Cardiff and several other cities across the country. There is no excuse to get into the fascinating world of gin.
The path for this incredible Gin journey was that dead-easy. You have stands A, B, C and D where premium gin brands from the UK and around the world are presented. The selection is published in the “Gin Book”, as well as, where you also find the information about the brand, garnish and best fever tree mixer to pour on it.
By the way, Fever-tree has a big part at the festival as well with a stand with all new products and plenty of mixers to go with your favourite gin of the day. Love it!
The Gin tour: My special glass was filled with a dose of 5th Gin Fire. I wanted something sweet and Spanish to start it. Besides, the colour is fantastic. Summer was well represented here. Meanwhile, my other half went straight to the Skully Smooth Wasaby from the Netherlands. I can`t blame him. It is classic London Dry with some interesting combination here: mint, ginger and wasabi. Great start!
The second round was all about the British ones such as Da Mhile Seaweed Gin made in Wales and Two Birds in Leicestershire. I confess I was so curious about the seaweed gin that I also had a sip of it as well.
Did you know that? The UK is the largest exporter of gin in the world with approximately 70% of UK production worth £373M going overseas to some 139 countries around the world.
We wanted to taste more European gin, so we headed straight to the Stand C there were brands such as Black Tomato gin and K-25. Spain is the largest market in the EU and the third largest in the world. You need to respect and appreciate those data. I think K-25 got straight to the point here with its citrusy taste.
Black Tomato Gin was one of the highlights of this festival with its first world`s gin ever made of black tomato. I confess, I never tried anything like this before and I am looking for more. The unique flavour of black tomato together with other botanicals makes a perfect combination here.
Another highlight was the local brand Brockmans Gin. The fine combination of botanicals is distilled in a 100-year-old traditional copper still in Langley Distillery in the Black Country. It is certainly one of the most successful brands of this event.
I had a chat with Mike Whatmough, the Brand Ambassador of Brockmans:
“We are based in the Black Country and now sending our gin to 33 countries. Brazil is one of our markets too. Brockmans is one of the most popular brands of the Gin Festival. We are participating since the beginning of this festival and our distillery is so closed to here as well.
The home for cocktails has been always London, Manchester and Leeds, but I really think Birmingham is really flourishing. A lot of great bars opened here recently and the bartenders and consumers here know a lot of about their gin as well.”
Heading to the cocktail bar we tried the Rhubarb Rumble and the Tipsy Rocket. All prepared by the bartender Nattiel Lynch. Here are a few his skills:
Time to eat!
It is important to remember that festivals like this demand food stands. So, between a gin and other, it is important to have a pit stop for eating. Drinking with responsibility is one of the best advisers we have in life. At the Gin Festival, there is always great street food options to tuck in. No excuses to skip it! The boar burger was a winner!
Finally, we had the last gin sipping of the day with more four to try: Braeckman Vanilla Jenever . A soft and creamy liqueur. The Sweet Potato Plum Gin Liqueur by The Sweet Potato Spirit Co. The Boe Violet Gin from Scotland and PJ Gin Elderflower.
Music and gin masterclasses:
It’s not everything about gin here. Oh well, it is. But quality music was also present at Custard Factory during the event.
It was great to check the Brockmans Gin masterclass to finish the special day of gin indulgence. There are several masterclasses during the day and it is a great opportunity to meet outstanding Gin brands and understand its market. Not to mention, it means more free samples of awarded gin as well, folks.
The whole experience:
That was by far the most well-organised festival I have been to. It was a pleasure to be a brummie blogger invited to this event and I hope Birmingham embrace the Gin Festival the way we did. It is an outstanding event that has been proved its success since it began in 2013, in Leeds.
I have to remember there are over 100 fine types of gin to try during this festival. It is impossible to get a sip of all of them during a single visiting. So, we will be back for more next year!
NB: I was a press guest at the Gin Festival, but my review about the festival itself is based purely on my honest experience in the event. Check out the following Gin Festival events here.