My Top 5 Gins plus a review of the Gin Festival

Guildford Gin Festival – a slick, well organised event – sold out I am told in that they added a 3rd evening.  Held nationwide, these Gin Festivals are organised by a couple from Yorkshire who also are obviously huge fans of this juniper based spirit and go mad for the garnish too!

There were 100 mainly artisan gins on offer divided into 3 sections – British, International and Fruit based eg Sloe, Damson etc.  The event was sponsored by Fevertree – not a Gordon’s and Schweppes in sight!

I was keen to stick with the British and as you can imagine, I did my research to ensure I selected gins I had never tried before and would potentially like.  The Gin Guidebook featured a good description and tasting notes for each gin, where it was from, which botanicals were used in the distillation and which garnish/tonic was recommended to accompany it.

So here goes, my Top 5 favourite gins:

1/ Sir Robin of Locksley Gin, Sheffield, Yorkshire, 40.5% – named after Robin Hood! Slightly sweeter than some with infusions of elderflower, pink grapefruit and dandelion….can be drunk neat but was recommended with the Mediterraean or Elderflower Fevertree Tonic.  A favourite with alot of people.   Locksley Distillers

2/ Rock Rose Gin, North Scotland, 41% – this one was extremely aromatic with strong juniper notes and tasted amazing with a fresh rosemary and orange garnish.  Check that combination out!

3/ Whittakers Gin, Harrogate, Yorkshire, 42% – mmm going to Harrogate soon, must get some!   Loving the rabbit label on this one!  You can smell the juniper and spice on the nose and a first for me, it was actually served with a couple of juniper berries and some thyme as the garnish.  Naturally light tonic of course.  Delicious.

4/  Bathtub Gin, from my county of birth, Kent, 43.4% – billed as an ‘exciting concoction’ and great with lime!  As well as the juniper, coriander, cloves and cardamom – this one contains sweet orange and comes in an orange bottle!

5/ Wicked Wolf Exmoor Gin, North Devon, 42% – the Kaffir line, hibiscus, citrus, pepper, coriander drew me in.  A very clean gin and served with thyme and lime.  I can feel a theme coming on here….

Other gins worthy of mention – Surrey’s Silent Pool Gin which I blogged about following my visit to their distillery earlier this year.  Gaining momentum and should now be stocked in Majestic Stores nationwide.  Everyone talks about their sublime bottle.

Gin Mare from Guadalajara in Spain – loved this aromatic gin and have seen it in British supermarkets and wine merchants.

No 209 – I discovered this on a trip to the wine regions of California as it is made by the Rudd Vineyard in the Sonoma Valley and is available here in the UK.  All my friends said they enjoyed this one.

And finally, a gin cum whisky – served neat – and does what it says on the tin – Strathearn Oaked Highland Gin.  A great way to finish off the evening…..

For more information, visit Gin Festival 

Can you recommend any amazing gins?









A visit to the haunted Silent Pool Gin Distillery

According to the Wine & Spirit Association, gin sales in the UK have grown by 35% since 2010 and are set to hit the £1 billion mark next year.  The fascinating book I have been reading   ‘Gin Glorious Gin’  written by Olivia Williams tells us about the history of gin and what she refers to as the ‘Ginaissance‘ and it was this which inspired me visit to my local gin distillery last week – Silent Pool in the beautiful Surrey Hills.

The British have been drinking gin for 300 years and if you are lover of gin as I am, you will be familiar with the traditional names in gin – Gordons, Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray and last summer, you probably enjoyed a Hendricks and tonic with a slice of cucumber along with many of the new, younger fans of the spirit.  Apparently, Gordons still supply around 50% of our gin but unbelievably, it was only in 2009 that Sipsmith became the first new-wave distiller to set up shop in London so it has only been in the last 7 years, that we have seen so many newcomers and artisan gin distillers, such as Silent Pool come onto the scene.

The Silent Pool Gin Distillery started up in 2014 and was created by a small team of business people and industry specialists – including American gin expert Cory Mason.  Cory carried out a huge amount of research before coming up with the complex formula for their gin containing everything from black juniper imported from Bosnia to chamomile grown locally on the land around Silent Pool to kaffir lime leaves which are specially grown in Essex.  Something like 24 botanicals in total are steeped in alcohol for around 24 hours to draw the oils out and then the liquid is heated and pumped through a beautiful a series of beautiful copper distillation tanks and then finally, water from the silent pool is added to produce each batch of gin (around 400 bottles).

I love the design of the bottle and @ 43% proof, Silent Pool gin is stronger than other gins however, it goes perfectly in a tall glass with Fevertree tonic and a slice of lime.  I have been impressed at how quickly the gin has become available in my local wine bars, restaurants and wine merchants and Majestic tell me that they will soon be selling it all over the country.

Oh and the ghost!  Yes, legend has it that Silent Pool is haunted by the ghost of a woodcutters daughter who drowned along with the hat of a local nobleman.

Not surprising no one wants to work the late shift!

Silent Pool gin us available on line at Silent Pool and in merchants throughout Surrey and will soon be available at Majestic.  Olivier Williams book Gin Glorious Gin available at Amazon.

Let me know what you think and what is your favourite gin cocktail?