Saturday, 14 October 2017

"Gin, Glorious Gin!" at the Catford Gin Festival

Gin has had quite a journey over the last ten years or so; from old person's drink, to trendy and exciting, to main-stay of the drinks scene. I am still amazed at the number of new companies and brands that are jumping up all over the place and breathing continued life into the gin revolution. This was reinforced for me last week when I went to the Catford Gin Festival, an exciting new collaboration between the Forest Hill Gin Club and Team Catford. The festival was held as a "pop-up" in an empty store in Catford Shopping Centre, which is a great idea as it allows an empty space to be used and generates some revenue and much needed kudos for the local area. We were there for the afternoon session and it was pleasingly full of people (lively with plenty of people milling around, but not so full that you couldn't navigate your way around...!). Props to the organisers for putting on such an excellent event.    

Below are a few of my favourites from the festival, which I would heartily recommend that you check out too!

Colonsay Gin  

This was a particularly impressive spirit for its cleanliness and freshness. It was served with a couple of small slices of chilli in it and this was really interesting as it enhanced a natural pepperiness in the spirit and gave it a gently-warming profile without being too insistent. A really refreshing drink with a lot of clarity and precision. A nice aperitif gin, methinks. Available for £36.47/bottle on Master of Malt.


Pothecary Gin

It was my wife who was drawn to this stand, she freely admitted that this was because she liked the look of their bottles. Proof that a good bottle design can go a long way in drawing in an audience! Fortunately the gin from Pothecary followed through with its visual promise and delivered a lovely gin. They use five botanicals to flavour their gin: Lavender from Provence; Juniper from Bulgaria; Mulberries from Turkey; Lemons from Sicily, the best lemons in the world; and Tilia, a type of flower, from Poland. A well-travelled gin indeed! The dominant flavours for me on this were the Lavender which gives an initial floral bloom to the taste, before the citrus of the lemons takes over to provide some freshness. Available for £39.95 for a 500ml bottle on Master of Malt.

Pothecary also had a nice limited edition "Sicilian Blend" premium gin that focussed more on the Sicilian lemons and put them more front and centre. This was another spectacular gin that would make for some great cocktails.

Turncoat Gin   

Turncoat Gin from Liverpool presented a really interesting selection of spirits with their London Dry Gin giving a pure and distinctive drink with a slightly nutty profile. I particularly enjoyed, however, their Cascade Gin which incorporates Cascade Hops into the distilling process which is a doff of the cap to the fact that their Head Distiller comes from a Craft Beer background. This gives the gin a really interesting and complex aroma and taste profile, that is part-fruity, part-spicy, part-perfumed and all very smooth. They also had some rather excellent bitters that you can dash into your GnTs to give them a slightly different flavour profile; I particularly liked their Orange Bitters.

Skully Gins  

From the Netherlands, Skully Gin presented probably the most different gin that I have ever tried - a Wasabi Gin, with botanicals of: Ginger, Mint, Juniper, Coriander, Licorice, Vanilla, Orris Root, Cardamom, Sweet Orange and... oh yes... Wasabi! As you'd expect the gin packs a bit of a punch, but is also remarkably smooth. They suggest that you have this with a Ginger Ale or a Ginger Beer, which makes for a rather lovely drink. Could this be an excellent gin match for sushi?? You can buy Skully Gins' other gins on Master of Malt for £44/bottle, but they don't seem to currently have the Wasabi one, shame..

There were other good gins on display too, but these were the ones that particularly stuck in the memory (also the ones that I bought!)

Here's hoping that the Catford Gin Festival becomes a regular fixture in the diary. It was a lot of fun and it was great to see the event so busy with happy punters and interesting exhibitors.    

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