Gin festival review
The Manchester Gin Festival was set in the Victoria Baths to the south of the city centre, which you may have seen on TV or in the papers about the campaign to save it – it truly is a wonderful building and it is a great place to hold a stylish event like this. We arrived about 7pm and were greeted by a friendly lady who explained how it worked – we were given a large gin glass with a badge, a pen and a Gin Book which contained details of the 100 plus gins on offer.
Given the baffling array of gins on offer, it was laid out really well – gins were laid out in 4 different areas, with each section having at least 2 barmen with their own wall of gins. Each bottle had the appropriate garnish in a dish underneath, so that they knew exactly what to put in each gin.
I went for “Pinkster” gin to start which was served with a raspberry and mint leaves. Nice, but didn’t blow my socks off. There were no less than 7 different types of tonic, so this first one had Fevertree Indian tonic water in it.
We decided to crank it up a notch, so I went over to the fruit gin wall whilst my husband headed over to the overseas gins to find an Australian one that had taken his fancy.I chose Bathtub Sloe gin which was served with bitter lemon – what a revelation!! With slight almondy undertones, it is absolutely delicious. I was just tucking in when my husband came back. “What the hell is that in your gin?” I asked. “Bell pepper” was the reply. Now I have seen everything. We tried another 2 each, including with apple or ginger beer as our mixer, and also had a wander around the stalls in another room that had producers offering samples. Here I found out that gin is vodka plus botanicals which I didn’t know, plus I got to sample some more sloe gin – neat this time!
We loved the atmosphere, with the women dressed with 1940s hairstyles and the men with a definite hipster vibe – it felt grown up but fun at the same time, and there were plenty of seats to perch on in the old Victorian changing stalls. There were a few food stalls which we didn’t try, but smelled very good. We would definitely go again and probably earmark a whole afternoon. As we headed off into the night to find a taxi, I was very happy clutching my bottle of Bathtub Sloe (bought not stolen!) and my enormous gin glass on the way home. Bring on next year.
Gin Festival is still touring around Britain, visit www.ginfestival.com for details.