Take a tour de Yorkshire gin of your own this weekend with Gin Festival and some of our favourite spirits from God's own country.
Being based in Yorkshire, in an old mill no less, the team at Gin Festival is getting ready this weekend to enjoy some world class cycling at the Tour De Yorkshire.
One of the most beautiful cycle races in the world, the Tour De Yorkshire takes in the stunning scenery of the Yorkshire countryside; its rugged moors, its rolling dales, its picturesque towns and more than a few gin distilleries.
But if all that sweating seems like hard work, then why not join in with the gin by sipping some top notch Yorkshire tipples as we take you on a journey through some amazing craft distilleries.
Starting and ending at the Yorkshire coast, Day 1 moves from the charming seaside town of Bridlington in-land to begin some of the most challenging climbs of the race. Taking a sharp turn at Pocklington (make a right at the massive 15th-century church, you can't miss it) the riders wil soon pass Malton, home to Raisthorpe Manor Oak Aged Gin.
Raisthorpe Manor has been a shooting park longer than it's been making gin, with Raisthorpe Flyers offering simulated game shooting and fine food. Very fine food it turns out, because the raspberry gin they made to serve to guests proved so popular they turned it into a business producing all manner of spirits and liqueurs.
Their oak aged gin stands out for us. A peppery London dry, as the name suggests, it is rested in oak barrels to impart some of the mellow flavours of the wood. The end result is actually close to a Jenever in flavour; very malty, very ginny and very smooth.
Soon after Malton the riders swing by Barton-le-Willows, home to Sloemotion. These wonderfully punny liqueur producers still make everything by hand, using mostly locally gown and sustainably produced Yorkshire fruit or wild foraged ingredients. Their Sloe Gin named the company but it's their Damson Gin that you have to try. Much drier and sharper than a sloe gin, it has a strong burst of plum followed by cherries and a hint of almonds.
Starting at Tadcaster and crossing the famous bridge (which reopened this year after more than a year of repairs, finally reuniting the town) Stage 2 takes a circuitous route round some lovely mill towns and 3 of our favourite gin producers.
First on the journey is Bedale's Masons Yorkshire Gins who produce 4 outstanding gins that are very different from each other. Their Yorkshire Dry is a classic London Dry but executed beautifully, very smooth with light spicy notes. More unusual is Masons Gin Yorkshire Tea Edition, made by distilling some strong builders tea with their Yorkshire dry gin. It doesn't really taste of tea, instead the tea adds richness and robustness. It's so delicious we named it our favourite new gin of 2015.
The tour of the Dales ends up in Harrogate, home to a famous spa reputed to have healing waters. And wherever you get great spa water you get distillers who want to make great spirits with it. No surprise then that 2 Gin Festival favourites are based near Harrogate.
Slingsby doubles down on the Yorkshire connection with liberal use of rhubarb, that iconic Yorkshire fruit (or is it a veegtable?) as a botanical. Their original Artisan Gin had a long finish of candied rhubarb but starts out as a more conventional gin, led by juniper and anise notes that mellow into deeper, fruitier flavours. Their Rhubarb Gin though, is positively bursting with rhubarb and raspberry!
Whittaker's distil in a converted farm building and make great use of locally foraged botanicals such as whortleberries, hawthorne berries, bog myrtle and Yorkshire thyme. Their aim is to really reflect the Yorkshire countryside in a glass, something we think they've nailed!
The last day of the Tour De Yorkshire starts in Bradford, a historically important town home to many important figures of the Industrial revolution. Bradford has a strong tradition of temperance so brewing and distilling have never been big industries here, something that's not the case in nearby rival Leeds.
Basically a one-woman operation, Leeds Gin is distilled, bottled, marketed, and everythinged by Sara Birkinshaw, a Leeds transplant who wants to honour her adoptive home with excellent gins featuring very Yorkshire ingredients like rhubarb (again) in her original Leeds Gin and white roses in Leeds Gin White Rose, which is only available at Gin Festival.
Once the race gets going past Ilkley Moor (be sure to wear a hat) it swings through Addingham, a lovely little market town where lives Fiona Mann, another one woman operation that makes the gorgeous range of Addingham Fruit Liqueurs.
The last stop on the race for gin fans is Keighley, and why would you travel any further when Gin Festival is here! Yes, our offices are set up in Keighley, and yes, they are absolutely full of gin!
They're also where Tinker was first dreamed up. Having created Gin Festival, Jym and Marie Harris naturally wanted to make their own gin. With all the feedback they had from running the festivals they knew what people out there really wanted in a gin, and what was missing.
It turned out what was missing was Tinker, a Yorkshire made gin in a Spanish-style. Tinker is smooth and light with gentle berry flavours and a soft lemon sherbert finish.
And fitting for the finish of a cycling tour, it's bright yellow! Does that make it the winner?
Well, one more gin to go. Sir Robin of Locksley from Sheffield (just south of where the race ends) is a great gin to celebrate victory with. Surprisingly smooth, it's light and sweet enough to enjoy neat but also makes a gorgeous G&T. Drinkers are likely to pick up on strong citrus flavours from pink grapefruit as well as floral elderflower notes.
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