On Sunday 2nd July we went to Leeds Gin Festival. I love everything about gin. I even named my blog after it, knowing I might look like a hipster twat in doing so. But as the saying goes, you can’t help who (or what) you fall in love with. For me it’s the variety, its massive history, how refreshing it is when the weather’s boiling – and now the fact we can have an entire day out devoted to it.
Our tickets allowed us access from midday till 5pm. We were under the illusion that we wouldn’t need to be there that long, it would just be a couple of drinks, maybe take an hour or so. We didn’t arrive till 3.15ish, and it certainly wasn’t enough time to take it all in and make the most of everything the festival had to offer.
There were gin masterclasses lead by experts, a chance to meet the people behind the brands, a photo booth, food stalls and a whole bar dedicated to cocktails.
On arrival, you’re given a lovely Gin Festival and Fever Tree Tonic sponsored glass; which holds all your drinks throughout the day and can be taken home at the end, a pen, a booklet explaining each drink and which bar to find them, a little shoulder bag and a badge.
The festival works on a token system. Tokens are £5 each and provide you with a single measure of gin and a tonic mixer. It’s obviously a lot pricier than buying a G&T in your local pub, but you kind of feel ok about that, because it’s not the local pub, it’s not a piss-up, and you’re getting the experience of trying unique, unheard of gins, whilst scouring through a comprehensive guide to them so you’re sure to find one you love.
Tinker and Pinkster were mine. Mike had White Rose Leeds Gin and No.209 (which he’s just informed me he only picked because he’s childish and it was 45% – fs). We both stole sips of each other’s to make sure we were really getting our money’s worth. They were all different and all lovely, but Tinker was definitely my favourite out of the four. It’s a Spanish style gin and like the description says, it’s fruity and “doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste like many others.”
I often find a lot of brands describe themselves as fruity or aromatic, or say things like “hints of spice,” but then rarely taste any different to the standard London Dry Gin you get in a corner shop (which I’m quite partial to, btw, but you know what you’re getting with it). With this one, you could actually taste its different elements, one after the other, like that Willy Wonka three course chewing gum. The pear garnish was a nice touch too.
My absolute favourite, I want more of it and wish I bought a bottle because I could drink it for breakfast, dinner and tea in place of meals if that wasn’t socially unacceptable:
We thought we’d try something weird and obscure before the event finished, so we both got this. Black Tomato Gin with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic. It’s made from distilling tomatoes. You have no idea what to expect. Will it be horrible? Will it be sour, like a minging, unripe tomato? Will it be bitty? I hate bits in drinks. No, no, no. My new favourite gin. It was the nicest thing ever. I find describing food and drink a bit difficult, because I’m not Marks and Spencers and my forte isn’t convincing you to try things through the clever use of description and imagery; but, try it. Buy it. Buy all of it. Drink it all. It’s so smooth and so wonderful. I can’t even.
The things I wish we’d done differently (and would suggest to anyone going to one soon) are:
Allocate enough time:
As I said, there is so much more to do than I expected. Unlike some events, where a ticket may say it finishes at a certain time, but you know as long as they’re taking your money they’ll let you stay; the festival really did finish at 5pm, whether you had tokens left or not.
Save up a bit beforehand:
I’d have loved to try a couple of cocktails (which will cost you two tokens), but we could only buy as many drinks as funds allowed. Save, save, save! It’s not the cheapest day, but it’s well worth it.
If you are a gin lover and you’ve never been before, I would definitely recommend Gin Festival. To see where they’re heading next, please visit: https://www.ginfestival.com/events