This weekend, I went along to Maidstone Gin Festival.
I hadn’t been to one before, however I was flanked by two friends (and expert gin-drinkers) who had been to a previous event down in Eastbourne (for Gin Festivals are now all over the UK) and knew what to expect.
Tickets to each festival start from £10 depending on time and location, which gets you entry, a Gin Festival glass, a bag/glass holder and brochure.
The gins cost a flat £5 each for a 25ml measure, with cocktails costing £10 (I can hear the sharp intake of breath there, and I’m with you on that!).
Once in, you pay by topping up your magic (contactless, whatever) wristband at the stand and then to pay for your drink you tap it against the payment machine at the bar. I would advise you not to go to crazy when putting money on your wristband; enough for a few drinks at a time is fine as the queues to top up were minimal.
You can find the list of future Gin Festival events here. If there is one near you and you’re thinking about whether you should buy a ticket or not, here are five reasons that you should give it a go!
1. There’s something for everyone
Even if you don’t think you like gin, there will be a gin – or perhaps a gin liqueur – that you do like. There are also a whole range of different tonic waters you can choose to go with your chosen gin; or if you prefer, soda, lemonade or ginger ale.
It may take you aback to hear that actually, I really don’t like gin and tonic and that’s mainly down to the fact that I hate the bitterness of tonic. It’s the quinine. Blergh. However, I am quite partial to a gin and lemonade or a nice gin cocktail and they have several of these on offer.
One we tried was the ‘Tinker Berry Fizz’; pink gin, prosecco, elderflower, creme de fraise, cranberry, mint and lemon juice. I won’t lie, it doesn’t taste much of gin.
If you have slightly more adventurous tastes, you can try everything from pepper gin to wasabi gin, and it’s all handily listed in the brochure alongside its location.
2. You’ll learn things
Attend a masterclass and you can find out how gin is made, and what gives it its taste. You’ll learn why Spanish gin so easy drinking compared to London dry, which explains why, as a five year old, I managed to down a skinful of the stuff at a Spanish gin factory while on holiday.
Read the brochure and you can find about all the different gins as well as the answers to questions you never realised you needed to know; what herbs do they use in Italian gin? What should one use to garnish a gin and tonic?
Chat to the people manning the brand stalls and you can learn about different craft gins, where and how they are made and why they are different!
3. You get a quite snazzy glass
It looks like a wine glass but hold a whole pint, and if you go to more events you can get matching glasses.
You also get a handy little Gin Festival branded bag which is just big enough to hold your gin glass, a trend that I would love to see catch on everywhere. Who couldn’t do with an extra hand whilst drinking gin, or anything else for that matter?
4. There’s music and food
It’s not just sitting in the dark mainlining gin, it’s an actual evening (or afternoon) out with a decent band and grub if you fancy it, although there weren’t enough seats for my liking (I’m old) as it appears we didn’t get there early enough.
5. You get to try new things
By things I mainly mean gin. If you want to.
If you’d rather stick with what you know, nobody will judge you.
We were given tickets to the event for free in return for this post!