I haven’t many moments where I’ve felt like a ‘proper blogger’, but being given my own lanyard at the Nottingham Gin Festival by personal invitation was definitely one of them! When I first got the email asking me if I’d be interested in attending, I was already excited at the thought of an entire festival revolving around gin — like you literally had me at hello — but I was asked to write a blog post about it too! I couldn’t wait!
The first thing I’d like to say is that my contact with the folks running the event was excellent. They were really accommodating and answered all the questions I had, from what was expected of me to what I would gain from the event, and the day before the festival, they sent a last minute email of essential info and tips — including advising me of the best time to turn up to beat the queues!
I was provided with two tickets, one for myself and a guest, so I took my bestie Caitlin, a self-proclaimed whiskey lover ready to be converted. When we arrived, there was a bit of queue which went down pretty quickly, and most of the staff were on the ball when I said I was there as a blogger. We were given our wristbands, goodie bags, souvenir gin lasses and a quick briefing of layout of the event (and I was given my lanyard!!), before being sent happily on our way to “have fun and get drunk”, a sentiment which I greatly appreciated! They even gifted us £20 credit to spend on our drinks!
The event was held in one of Trent’s university buildings which allowed for a LOT of space. The main atrium was bright and airy, and even though there were lots of people in attendance, it didn’t feel at all cramped. There was even a cocktail bar and a stage with live music to set the mood, lively but not too loud.
We’d been advised that the freebies were located downstairs, so of course that’s where we went first. We tried a couple of samples of different gins and varieties of Schweppes tonics as we got a feel for the event, before sitting down and looking through our goodie bags. The guidebook was our lifesaver; it included all the different types of gins on offer, as well as a brief description and the right tonic to pair it with. There was even a “Wheel of Wonder” which helped you choose quickly depending on taste if you had no idea where to start!
The gins were grouped into different bars depending on flavour and aroma, e.g. dry gin, floral gin, fruity gin. We made the rounds and tried four gins between us.
‘beautifully balanced and full of flavour. The sweet but tart rhubarb is gorgeously crisp. Spicy ginger cuts across and gives a warmth that […] creates a seriously tasty gin’
This was paired with Schweppes ginger ale and garnished with apple chunks as recommended, giving it a nicely subtle taste. It was warm and tangy, and the rhubarb taste came through very well.
‘a light and floral gin liqueur with an unbeatable aroma. Made with the finest rise petals’
This was paired with Schweppes crisp tonic as recommended, and no extra garnish (it didn’t need any!). It took a while to grow on me but the more I sipped it, the more I liked it. The flavour was subtler than I expected, but the floral aroma was beautiful.
‘exceptionally tasty, packed full of fresh raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and warming spices. Enjoy floral and fruit notes on the nose, zesty citrus on the palate, follower by cinnamon lingering for a soft spicy finish’
This reminded both of us of a more ‘ginny’ Pimm’s! It was paired with Schweppes lemonade, and garnished with loads of strawberries, orange and a sprig of mint. It was very refreshing, sweet and fruity, with a slight pleasantly bitter undertone. A perfect alternative summer drink!
‘inspired by the Suffolk coast […] a herby and aromatic gin. The unique English botanicals give it a distinctive savoury coriander spice with a deep citrus warmth. A hint of dried seaweed and ginger give a medium sweet finish […] refreshing and extraordinary’
I wasn’t sure if I was going to love this or absolutely hate it but I was so, so surprised. It was absolutely gorgeous! It recommended to be paired with Schweppes Salty Lemon Tonic and garnished with grapefruit, which felt like a risk for my personal tastes, but I trusted it and it paid off. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so this was the perfect taste for me. A surprising fruity taste comes through first, followed by the delightfully salty, savoury flavour; generally very unusual but I could’ve had about five more.
I don’t like talking about negatives, but there were a few things I felt could’ve been a little better. The location wasn’t ideal, as it was just so spacious; some of the bars felt a bit out of the way of the lively atmosphere in the atrium, which is where I instinctively wanted to stay. I also felt that there could’ve been more signage/explanation, as we felt a bit lost to start with, and we struggled to find staff to help us.
That being said, there was a lot of aspects that I absolutely loved! Firstly, the range of gins available was amazing. I like to think I’m a bit of one for gin, but there were so many varieties and brands that I’d never even heard of! For every gin I recognised, there was about ten ones I didn’t know, which was very exciting for me! I also loved that they were grouped into categories and explained in the guidebook (which in itself was extremely useful!).
The payment system was really convenient. We were each given a wristband on arrival that we could top up at a number of stations around the venue; it would then be used almost like a giftcard whenever you bought a drink. It made for quick and easy transactions, and fast-moving queues.
I also loved the atmosphere. The live bands were great additions, but both Caitlin and I were pleasantly surprised with the diversity of the people in attendance. Gin is a bit of a trend at the moment (which I am LIVING FOR) and it felt like an event which was bringing people together, at the risk of sounding a bit cheesy!
Overall, I had a really lovely time and I am so grateful to the folks at Gin Festival for inviting me along and being so kind and accommodating. I had a really great Saturday night, and found a new favourite gin to boot!
If you are interested in finding out about gin (and other such food or drink) festivals in your area, you might want to check out EatDrinkSeek!