I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Gin Festival in Newcastle last night. The original and biggest gin festival in the UK.
We arrived just before opening at 6.30 where we were greeted by small queue of excited gin lovers. Once the doors were opened we were welcomed through the doors towards a group of hosts waiting with a pretty gin glass for every visitor. As well as the take home glasses, everyone is issued upon entry with ‘The Gin Book’ – a small book jam packed with information about The Gin Festival, a menu and short blub on all of the drinks featuring at the event and tips about what to do. We were also given a handy little pin badge which allows entry in and out of the venue should you wish to pop outside.
The unique CastleGate in Newcastle city was a surprisingly good venue choice for the event. The vast ceilings looked more homely with strings of twinkling fairy lights strung above giving the room a cosy atmosphere
Right next to the entrance was a place to buy your tokens (none of the bars within the gin festival accept cards or cash). Each token is £5 which covers the price of one 25ml measure of gin and an unlimited amount of Fever-Tree mixer. Cocktail lovers don’t need to worry either, there’s a small but perfect formed cocktail bar. Each cocktail costs £10 (2 tokens) which may seem a little pricey, but I absolutely loved the one I tried.
One side of the room is home to the brands, each stand offering lots of information about their products and a free flow of samples to try. The other side has a row of bars, each signposted with a letter from A through to D. The bars are separated by types of gin. Each houses a range of gins of a similar ilk. A and B (UK brands), bar C (international brands) and bar D (flavoured and sloe gins).
We decided to check out the brands before we chose any drinks, chatting with Sophie from Bedale based Masons who was so enthusiastic and full of great gin related facts. I got to try their Lavender edition gin which is delicious – it’s definitely one worth checking out.
Hidden away in the corner was Sunderland based Poetic License who were keen to talk about their absolutely delicious strawberries and cream limited edition gin. It’s a complete must for the Summer! Poetic License brew underneath their Roker based pub in an independent small batch distillery which is open to public viewing. We’re going to pop through for a visit (and buy a bottle of their limited edition gin before it disappears). Editors Note - No need to make the trip to Sunderland, you can grab a bottle from GinFestival.com/shop
Back to the gins, first up for me was the Zymurgorium Sweet Violet Gin, a beautiful light floral gin which is a pretty pastel purple colour. I knew I’d like it before I even tasted it. It smells and tastes just like parma violets. It was delicious neat, but I thought I’d end up drinking it too quickly so I topped it up with Fever-Tree lemonade and enjoyed it as a long drink. The percentage is just over 18% so that means you can drink more of it, right?
Next up was the Isle of Wight Mermaid gin. Much more of a gin that tastes like gin! I drank mine with tonic, garnished with cucumber and juniper – two things I‘d NEVER had in my gin before. It was a very smooth gin, very clear with a slightly citrus tang to it.
During the course of the evening some of the brands ran master classes in a room away from the main hall. We attended both the Masons and Lakes Distillery classes and enjoyed learning more about the brands and listening to the industry experts explain their processes and history.
After much deliberation and a bag of crisps I was ready for my next choice – Daffy’s gin. A Scottish gin, full of flavour that has quite a strong woody scent. I really enjoyed this with a dash of tonic water and mint and lime garnish. It’s something I’d drink on an evening at home whilst relaxing in front of the TV. I opted for a cocktail next. After a quick peruse of the cocktail menu, I chose the Rhubarb Rumble. It was delicious – the perfect combination of Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger Gin, advocaat, apple juice and lemon juice. I MUST learn how to make this at home.
My last choice of the evening was the Williams Chase Seville Orange Gin. This was the only gin that didn’t really work for me. It was a little too heavy for me and lacked the citrus kick I’d expected.
As well as the huge range of gins on offer there was also a food stall and an ‘off-licence’ where you could buy gin-related products and of course, a bottle of your favourite tipple of the night.
Hubby and I really enjoyed our evening, it was completely unique compared to what we’d usually do on a child free night. It was great learning more about gin and of course sampling loads of new flavours. We’ll definitely be going to the next Newcastle event.
Cat is a family and lifestyle blogger from the North East. She blogs over at www.rockandrollpussycat.co.uk where she shares tips, trips and lots of photographs. She loves the sunshine, red lipstick and trips to the seaside. Life is so much more interesting with a glass of gin!
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