Last weekend saw The Bond Company in Digbeth quite literally flooded with Gin, as Gin Festival arrived in Birmingham, bringing with it a plethora of gins and gin liqueurs, some exclusive to the event.
I was invited along on Saturday afternoon to check it out, and despite being a bit drizzly, the festival was packed and the atmosphere was buzzing.
On arrival, I was greeted by Gin Festival staff and given a Gin Book with all the variations on offer, and a lovely branded Gin glass to sample on the day and take home. There were 4 bars, each with their own speciality – British Gin, Foreign Gin, Flavoured Gin and Gin Liqueurs – as well as a cocktail bar and street food stalls outside.
Drinks tokens were £5 each and entitled you to a large helping of Gin and a choice of various Fever Tree mixers, including all of their tonic waters and lemonade. I decided to start with bar B, the foreign gin bar, and went for an Audemus Pink Pepper with Indian tonic water. on the recommendation of the barman.
Pink Pepper is a French gin, with a strong flavour of juniper and the warmth of pink peppercorns. I found this very dry and refreshing, which I liked, and as the ice melted and the drink diluted, the peppercorn flavour really came through.
Drink in hand, I decided to go and meet some of the brands exhibiting. My first stop was Sir Robin of Locksley.
This was a London dry style gin, made in Sheffield, with plenty of citrus flavour, and quite smooth. This paired really well with Fever Tree elderflower tonic.
Next up I was drawn to the magnetic pinkness of the Pinkster gin stall!
Pinkster is, as you’d probably guessed, a pink gin, getting its colour from the fresh raspberries in it. Dry and fruity, with just a hint of sharpness from the fruit, this was dangerously drinkable!
Finally I headed to the beautifully presented Poetic License gin stall.
Poetic License are based in Sunderland, have the first distillery bar outside London, and call themselves the ‘wild spirits.’ I love the romance! There were 2 gins I got to sample here, firstly the Old Tom.
Now, I will admit my ignorance here, as I had to ask what the difference between an Old Tom and a regular dry gin was. Luckily the ladies manning the stall explained it to me without a hint of condescension! According to them, Old Tom gin is a traditional recipe from the 1800’s. When gin was being produced in people’s bath tubs at home, there was some nasty stuff in it, so sugar was added to mask all the nasties and make the gin sweeter. Luckily the Poetic License Old Tom contains none of the nasties or the sugar, but all of the sweetness. It has a lovely golden colour from being aged in oak casks, and a hint of rose. This really was delicious!
Secondly I got to try the limited edition summer special, Picnic Gin. This gin is both distilled and infused with botanicals and fruit, to give it a gorgeously pink colour and a superb strawberries and cream flavour. It has sweetness, creaminess and a lovely, perfumy gin flavour all rolled into one.
Lastly I got to check out the Gin Explorer subscription box from the team behind the Gin Festival.
Each box contains 4 double measures of small batch gins, mixers, snacks and tasting notes for £24.99 a month. There was a special offer of £5 off your first box, so I couldn’t resist signing up! I also got a sample of Black Shuck gin as a thank you for joining, which I’m going to crack open this weekend.
After a good mooch around, it was time for another drink. This time I headed to the Fruit Gin bar.
After a tip off from a fellow imbiber, I went for Zymurgorium sweet violet gin, paired with a splash of Fever Tree lemonade.
I kid you not, this pale beauty tasted exactly like Parma Violet sweets! It was absolutely delicious, with that heady violet flavour and no sticky syrupiness, so it was really easy to drink and went down far too easily! I loved this so much that I picked up a bottle of it to take home from the off license, only to go back and get another one later for my friend who spotted it on my Instagram feed!
As the afternoon session drew to a close, I collected all my goodies in my Gin Festival tote, which I was given at the off-license, and trotted off to get a sneaky preview of Hawker Yard, as all the gin had given me an appetite!
I thoroughly enjoyed the Gin Festival, I thought The Bond was the perfect venue with its versatile indoor and outdoor spaces, and the selection of gins on offer paired with the book to help you choose was fantastic. All the staff were clearly very passionate and knowledgable about gin and it came across with every encounter with them, from the bar to the off license. I loved the fact that you could buy bottles to take home too. The off license had a big queue throughout the afternoon, testament to its popularity! Great idea.
If you missed the Birmingham event and can’t wait for next year, the next Gin Festival is on in Sheffield this weekend, with more events later in the year.
I was invited to the Gin Festival as a guest, many thanks to the team there. I was given a press pass which granted me free entry and my gin glass, however I paid for my own drinks. All opinions are, as always, my own and I was under no obligation to provide a positive review.