To celebrate world Gin day we at Club Connoisseur could not think of a better place to spend it than at Tobacco Dock in London for Junipalooza's fifth year. A great opportunity to meet more than 70 gin distillers with over 200 gins to sample in a fantastic venue.
There was a great mix of established distillers as well as new brands that were so hot off the press they were launching at the event. With so many gins to choose from it is important to do two things, 1. Identify a number of brands that are on the 'must try' list and 2. Pace yourself! So determined to make the most of the session we picked up our branded glass and guide to all the gins and headed into the fray.
Our first gin to kick start the day was from the Ramsbury Distillery from Stockclose Farm in Wiltshire where they make both Vodka & Gin from raw ingredients taken from the estate including Horatio wheat and water taken from an ancient aquifer below their land. This was a really fresh, classic British gin, with botanicals including Juniper and Quince and a great starting point for the day. They also had a bottle of their vodka which we sampled and it was easy to see with it's creamy, buttery taste why it has won a Gold award at the San Francisco Spirits competition.
Next up for us was Herno Gin which comes with the tag of the World's best Gin. A bold claim you may think but it has won numerous awards including the World's best Gin 3 years running which is no mean feat. We started with their Old Tom Gin with it's cat face on the bottle giving a nod to how Old Tom Gin got it's name back during the 18th century prohibition where tom cat-shaped plaques outside London gin houses would indicate to people they could get gin by placing a coin in the cat's mouth and the bartender would dispense a shot of gin from the cat's paw. No need for such secrecy now and Herno can shout about their gin very loudly and rightly so. It does have a sweetness to it with herbaceous notes that develop and leaves you with vanilla and citrus at the finish. It is easy to see why this is such a world beater!
Next we moved to the Kyro Distillery stand, a Finnish company who started making Rye Whisky but now produce 2 fantastic gins using 100% whole-grain rye. First we tried the Napue which is distilled to 46.3% but tastes incredibly light & summery. Using locally foraged botanicals including buckthorn, cranberries and birch leaves it was easy to see why this won The World's best Gin for Gin & Tonic. When we thought we could not be more impressed we then tried the Koskue which is Kyro's Cask Matured Rye Gin. When brands experiment with maturing gins in casks it can go wrong but this was a fine example of what can be achieved when it is done right. The nose on this gin was not only the best we have smelt but might be the best thing we have ever smelt! The flavour also matches up well and even though this was a sunny summers day it reminds you of winter, Christmas and warm fires with honey and orange on the palate. Another award winning gin picking up a Gold Medal from the 2017 San Francisco World Spirit Competition.
After tasting so many great gins both neat and in their perfect serve it was time to break things up with something non alcoholic so when we saw The Duchess a non-alcoholic G&T we had to investigate further. Non-alcoholic versions of drinks often fail to deliver but this is not one of those disappointments. The Duchess is truly delicious using a re-distilled juniper extract and their own botanically infused tonic water. You get orange peel, cloves and all spice on the palate but this drink is also low in sugar so is a really great alternative whether you are the designated driver or just looking for a tasty summery drink without having to count the calories.
Feeling refreshed and our heads slightly clearer we then made a move to our final stand of the day Twelve Keys Gin who were launching at Junipalooza. The Gin's name is inspired by the alchemic work of Basil Valentine and his twelve keys text back in 1599. To represent this they have used 12 botanicals and went through a very rigorous testing process to find the right blend and to distill to an ABV that really showed off all the elements to their best. They settled on 46% which really worked, the juniper is punchy but you get fig and honey on the palate bringing in a nice amount of sweetness and the result is a Gin as beautiful as the bottle it is in! It was the perfect note to finish on and we are sure both us and you will be seeing a lot more of Twelve Keys Gin in the coming months.
We did sample more gins than described above but could not possibly write about all of them. Junipalooza was another big success and whether you are in the trade or a just fan of all things Gin this is a fantastic event, well organised, a great mix of brands/distillers in a beautiful setting with a great atmosphere. Junipalooza we are raising a G&T to you and are looking forward to next year's event already!