I was invited to this year’s Gin Festival as my first assignment as a Blogger.
The Gin Festival was started back in 2013 by Husband and Wife team, Jym & Marie Harris. The festival has grown each year with new locations being added to its tour. This year we were lucky enough to have one landing slap bang in the middle of the English Rivera, Torquay! The events are all ticketed at a cost of £10.46 each.
As we arrived we were handed a large Gin Festival glass, which surprisingly had a stem. I later found out that gin should be drunk from a stemmed glass, rather than a tumbler, as it will stay cooler for longer this way! Within our glasses, we were given a booklet containing details on each gin that the festival were hosting. There was over 100, so plenty of choice.
Each gin was in a category – A, B, C or D. I’ll explain that bit in a minute. This booklet made the festival very easy to navigate!
As it was also Easter weekend, we could take part in the Easter hunt if we wanted, but we had no time for that, there was gin to be drunk!
Drinks were purchased by tokens (tokens are £5 each), which again made purchasing drink easier and streamlined at the chosen bar. The bartenders didn’t have to faff about with change or adding up, they just took your token and poured you a drink!
So, back to the gin. Each gin had a recommended tonic water and garnish. These would range from grapes, strawberries and even to fresh orange juice with the dark chocolate gin. After the bartender had poured you a gin from the optics, you would make your way over to the Fever Tree tonic table, where you would pour your own tonic, to your own taste preference. Again., this was a really nice touch, mainly due to the fact that you pour the tonic, so you choose the taste, rather than the bar tender deciding that they will drown that taste of your gin with a tonic.
Talking of tonics, I never knew that there was such a range! You only really see Indian tonic water sold in supermarkets and if randomly they do happen to have a lemon tonic sat on the shelf, nobody knows really what to serve it with. Fever-Tree were the official sponsor, so all tonics and mixer were from their range including, Lemon Tonic, Elderflower Tonic, Aromatic Tonic and Mediterranean Tonic.
As I said before the gins were located in different category bars – A, B, C & D. From what I could tell bars A & B were clear gins, bar C had European gins and bar D had flavoured gins (my favourite). My winning gin of the day had to be one from Portugal called Friday Chic. A fruity gin with tropical fruits that were set off by the garnish of grapes and Mediterranean tonic, just perfect for sipping at a Summer BBQ!
Upstairs there were some gin companies offering samples. These gins included Black Tomato and Salcombe. Now the Salcombe gin was an interesting one. I honestly thought you could taste the sea when I tried it. I might have been going mad, but that is what I thought. Brockman’s Gin was very aniseed smelling but mixed with a neutral tonic you were hit in the face with the taste of blackberries, just gorgeous!
There was also a gin cocktail bar separate front the categorised bars, where each cocktail was 2 X tokens. The bartenders showing all their mixing flare, were offering such delights as Gin Royale cocktails which are your favourite gin topped with Prosecco plus the delicious combination of the Rhubarb Rumble Cocktail featuring the Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger Gin Liqueur! Just divine!
In the same room as where gin was served, there was a choice of street style food, with Spanish tapas, burgers and meatballs. We opted for some meatballs and a spanish tapas selection box. Olives, sun dried tomatoes and crusty bread soon soaked up the gin, so it was back to the bar! Whilst we were snacking on our street food we noticed that there was background music but no entertainment as such. We did see a guitar and violin duo, but that was it. I felt that the stage should have been filled with some really different types of music for people to enjoy.
The Gin Festival offers a fantastic range of gins for all tastes, allowing you to purchase your chosen one of the day, and has staff with a wealth of knowledge. My only criticism is that a lack of live music let the team down. The festival felt a little bit like a tasting session rather than a social event.
Book some more live music Gin Festival team and I’ll see you all next year! xx