Tuesday 19 September 2017

Festival of Sussex Gins

Earlier in the month we went down to Hotel du vin in Brighton where the Festival of Sussex Gins was being held.  The event was put together by Jo and Jason from the Brighton Gin Club and sponsored by Fentimans.  As the title suggests, the event was to showcase Sussex gins.

Jo and Jason from the Brighton Gin Club
Having been to a couple of gin festivals in the past, this was on a smaller scale; obviously the reason being is there are only so many Sussex gins!  Great little venue, I did wonder if there would be enough to do in our allotted 3 hour visit, however I needn’t have worried.

Upon arrival we were given our gin glass and taster card and then let loose to sample the gintastic delights that awaited us.   Basically you visited each stand to sample their particular gin, marked it off on your taster card and at the end of the event you handed in your completed card and received your goody bag which contained several taster bottles of gin, recipe cards, discount vouchers and flyers with information about all the distillers. We also picked up sticks of rock along the way from the lovely lady at Brighton Gin! 

Jane Keating from Brighton Gin

  As with any good event there was a bar from which you could purchase bottles of the gins that were being showcased and also drink tokens.  Once you purchased your tokens you then visited your stand of choice to receive a full measure of gin along with ice and the appropriate garnish which you then took to lovely Nicola (she of the flame hair and amazing Vivienne Westwood shoes!) at the Fentimans stand who then provide you with your mixer of choice.

Nicola Bourne from Fentimans
As mentioned above, for the afternoon session we had 3 hours to make our way around and sample the 12 gins being showcased, all I can say is where did the time go!  Everyone manning the stands was so friendly and we had long chats with all of them (that’s probably where the time went, I do like to talk!) and each and every one of them was so passionate about their gin, it really did make for a great afternoon.  As a recent convert to gin it still astounds me that there is such a variety of flavours, you would think gin is gin, but hell no, once those botanicals get into the mix this is where the fun begins! 

Thomas Martin-Wells from Slake Gin

A number of gins that I tried had a very strong flavour when tried neat however add a mixer and wow they become something completely different.  I had always said I could probably only drink one or two g&t’s in a sitting and that was mainly due to the tonic, there is only so much quinine my mouth can take!  That said, tonics and mixers have come a long way over the years and Fentimans certainly seem to be leading the way that’s for sure, so much choice.  Every gin has it’s perfect partner be it a tonic, mixer or garnish, so many combinations that you can experiment with, bring on the gin I say!

Gail Woolston from Brilliant Gim
 The day itself was split up into two sessions, afternoon and evening, each session holding 100 people which for me was perfect. At previous events I have been to, there were far too many people, you had to queue for ages to get a sample or a drink at the bar, and you didn’t really get the time to talk to the distillers. However there was none of that here, a great event put on by the Brighton Gin Club, great choice of gins not to mention the mixers and tonics, all in all top marks Jo and Jason and certainly great value for money -  I have never been given gin to take away before in a goody bag!

Sarah Thompson from Blackdown Gin
 On the day we got to sample the following luscious gins (and I would recommend each and every one of them):-
  • Blackdown Gin (they also do vodka, vermouth and a blackcherry liqueur)
  • Brighton Gin
  • Brilliant Gin
  • Cabin Pressure
  • Foxhole Gin
  • Mayfield Sussex Hop Gin (this made what little hair I have left curl!)
  • Old Hove Gin
  • One Sage Gin
  • Simpsons Old Tom Gin
  • Slake Sussex Dry Gin (I am lucky enough to be paying them a visit this very weekend)
  • Tom Cat Dry Sussex Gin
Old Hove Gin
Over the coming months I will be featuring recipes on my blog using some of the gins showcased at the festival and will provide a bit more info about the distiller used when I do.  I have to say, having asked the distillers about cooking with gin, the recurring answer was to make gravlax, well, trust me, I shall be coming up with a few tasty recipes a tad different so watch this space!

The Brighton Gin Club put on a number of events in and around Brighton throughout the year so visit their website for details of up and coming events:-

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