The other week Phil and I were invited to attend the Cambridge Gin Festival. The festival ran from Friday 8th – Sunday 10th April which just so happened to fall during our week in Cambridge. We decided to go for the Saturday afternoon session. I like that the weekend is split up into separate sessions. It means the festival never gets too busy or overwhelming and you’re never standing in a queue for long.
The festival was held at the Corn Exchange which is situated in the centre of Cambridge, not far from Jamie’s Italian. It was easy to find and although we’d arrived early there were already a few other gin enthusiasts waiting for the doors to open.
On arrival we were handed a big fancy gin glass to use throughout the festival and take home as well as a handy guide to over 100 gins at the venue. I honestly never knew there were so many types of gin, did you?
The festival really opened my eyes to the world of gin, how it’s made and the passionate creators behind some of the brands.
We made our way into the festival and were greeted with lots of independent and small batch gin makers around the room. We decided to make our way around and chat to each of the brands. We wanted to find out more about the companies, try a few sneaky samples and learn as much as we could about gin.
We both loved the passion and enthusiasm that each band had. We spoke to founders, ambassadors and staff. Everyone was very passionate and dedicated to their brand. It was a pleasure to hear the stories and hard work that goes into creating each gin.
Throughout the day there were talks from industry experts. We were lucky enough to catch talks from the founder of Pinkster Gin and The Ely Gin Company.
Pinkster Gin is a Cambridge gin which launched in 2013. The founder, Stephen Marsh experimented with many fruits before discovering the delightful and best flavour that the raspberries created. I’ve enjoyed Pinkster gin many times before and I highly recommend it. They also recycle all the raspberries into their Boozy Berries, I must give these a try soon.
The founder of the Ely Gin Company is James Clark, an ex computer programmer. The brand was launched in 2012 on Ely Market. I particularly enjoyed the Ely Gin with Pink Grapefruit and the Dark Chocolate one. Chocolate may sound like an usual choice but it really does work.
If you find yourself at one of the gin festivals then I highly recommend going along to the talks. They’re a good way of finding out more about the world of gin and the people behind the brands.
I was hoping to catch the talks from the owner of Brockmans Gin and the sponsors of the festival, Fever Tree but didn’t manage to. I did however talk to Bob Fowkes, one of the founders of Brockmans. Although there wasn’t a gin I disliked on the day I have to say that Brockmans was up there on my top 3. It’s a berry based gin so if you’re a fan of fruity notes then I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
The long stem of the glass helps to keep the drink cold.
I was delighted to see the Adnams team at the festival. I’m sure many of you know that Southwold is one of my favourite places. I’ve tried their sloe gin many times before but it was good to finally give Copper House Dry Gin and the First Rate Finest Cut Gin a try.
I’ve decided that on my next visit to Southwold I’m going to finally book in with Adnams and take a tour of the brewery and distillery. I can’t believe that I lived there for a couple of years and never got ’round to visiting. Shame on me.
The atmosphere at the festival was fantastic. There was a constant buzz of friendly people chatting and sipping on gin. Everyone has the shared interest of gin which made for a great ice breaker.
After a lot of talking we were in need of something to eat. Luckily the team from Smokeworks were on hand to sort everyone out. I’d previously been to Smokeworks with Karen from I Don’t Like Peas and was planning to take Phil. We managed to experience their delicious food at the gin festival and it was the best to soak up the gin.
Some of you will know that I spend my time between Cambridge and Sheffield. It was nice to sample a few gins local to both cities at the festival
Sir Robin of Locksley is an artisan gin based in the Portland Works in Sheffield. It was another firm favourite of mine from the day. It was easy to drink on its own with sweet notes from pink grapefruit.
The Gin Festival is sponsored by Fever-Tree tonic, a true favourite in my house. Fever Tree was founded in 2005 after 15 months of research and testing. Charles Rolls and Tim Warrillow created this high quality tonic water free from artificial sweeteners, preservatives and flavourings. They now have 7 drinks which work well with gin and are equally as good on their own. I’m quite the fan of their Sicilian Lemonade.
We tried a fair few gins between the 2 of us. I’ve already told you about some of my favourites but I must also tell you about Zymurgoriym Sweet Violet. This gin tastes just like Parma Violets, it was wonderful but went down very easily. If you’re a fan of Parma Violets then you’re going love it. Another one to try is Blue Bottle Gin, it has a very unique taste with floral and spicy notes.
Later in the afternoon the venue was filled with beautiful music from Holder & Smith.
We both had a brilliant time at the festival and have already decided that we’ll be attending again next year. The tickets are £7.50 which includes a gin glass and guide. Drinks cost £5 per token (the bars don’t accept cash). I think the price of the drinks sits alongside the prices of drinks at music and food festivals. You pick your gin, your garnish and then top up with an endless supply of Fever Tree tonic. There are lots of samples to be had around the festival too.
I also made a little vlog with interviews from some of the brands.
Some of you may be excited to know that the Gin Festival have now launched their very own subscription box; Gin Explorer. Keep an eye out for my review.
Have you ever been to one of the UK Gin Festivals? You can find the full list of upcoming events over on their website. I highly recommend getting tickets if you’re keen to learn more and explore the world of gin.
Location: Corn Exchange, Cambridge, CB2 3QB
I’d like to say a huge thank you to the Gin Festival for inviting me.