Are you a Gin lover? Well there’s a festival in town that you need to know about. To be honest, even if you’re not a fan, you should still visit. I’m the latter. “Eurgh I don’t like Gin” I’d cry. “Maybe it’s the tonic?” they’d argue.
Well I can tell you this event has completely changed my mind. I’m serious! Meet Gina the Greatest Gin Gulper in the North West. OK maybe that’s an exaggeration but my point still stands. I now like Gin.
Michelle and I were incredibly excited to get stuck into this alcohol laden festival. She will hate me for posting this picture but just look at her joy! And no Michelle I won’t post my surprised double chin selfie. Anywho…
The Gin Festival has made its 6th visit to the glorious city of Manchester and will see over 7500 visitors attend the nine sessions. You can choose an afternoon or evening slot with around 800 people per session, which sounds overwhelming but is actually a really nice number. It gives the place a buzzing atmosphere with enough bars for everyone. Hurrah.
The Festival is set in the most beautiful location ever. Victoria Baths. A short taxi or bus ride from the centre. It’s a listed Edwardian Swimming Pool and Turkish Baths, which of course hasn’t been used since 1993. No one mixes alcohol with water. In both senses. Seriously, drink responsibly guys.
It’s a labyrinth of corridors and cubicles. Old safety signs, battered teal tiles, derelict showers, stained glass and mosaic floors. Once known as “a water palace of which every citizen of Manchester can be proud of”, this venue really does make the event extra special. Take a camera and get those insta worthy shots.
On entry we were gifted with a Gin Festival branded glass that you could take home, a handy brochure and most importantly our wristbands. I’ve never seen this type of band before and maybe I’m a tech novice but I thought they were genius.
Head to the ‘top-up’ bar to add credit and scan your wrist when you make a purchase. Simples. Just ‘Tap for Gin” as the chip states. And at only £5 a pop, I’d say it was pretty reasonable.
The bars were spread across the venue and ordered from A-E, which made it really simple to navigate. There were also Masterclasses to join at scheduled times and a brand zone to meet experts and sample Gins. Lots and lots of them. As well as live music and a street food section, which I’d like to see expanded. There was only a choice of burgers or Chinese. I needed to soak up the alcohol somewhere.
The brochure listed over 60 Gins! I didn’t know that many existed. Sorry to any experts out there. Each Gin had their own blurb with information on specific flavour notes and recommended garnishes. Feeling a little overwhelmed we started with the Gin Festivals Top 10 page. If in doubt, give me a list. We also used the bar guide to find drinks paired with lemonade. It’s true, I hate tonic.
But which Gin was our favourite I hear you cry. Great question and an easy one to answer.
This one quite easily came out top. I am so glad we got to taste it as I know it sold out for the next session. This Manchester based distillery’s inspiration not only comes from nature but also from culture and science, which explains the strange brand name. The city bee proudly sits centrally in their logo too.
Sweet Violets create this sweet and floral liqueur Gin. Remember Parma Violets? Well, it’s basically that but in alcoholic form. The pretty purple pastel colour made it not only pleasing to the palette but also to the eye. An absolute stand out winner.
Coming in close second has to be this Apple & Blackberry number. Sovereign are a family enterprise run from a farm in Nottinghamshire who, in an old converted barn, have spent countless hours adapting their family recipe to new flavours. All made using the finest ingredients.
Soft berries and sharp apples mix together to make this refreshing concoction. It’s rich tasting and when mixed with lemonade, makes for the perfect summer punch. Yummy.
As with all day trips, we couldn’t leave without visiting the shop. There was a huge amount of choice and you could find most of the Gins in the brochure. Unless it’s the Zymurgorium of course, which was so popular it sold out. Damn it! Don’t worry though, I soon got my fix as the next day I found a pub that stocked it. I’m now waiting for a restock on their website!
I couldn’t leave with nothing so I just had to purchase the Apple & Blackberry Gin didn’t I? It will be the perfect companion on those hotter, longer days. Picture it now. An ice cold glass in hand, sitting on my balcony, staring down the river. BLISS.
Guess what! There are still some tickets available for the Gin Festival this weekend (29th March – 1st April) I highly recommend you buy some and head along, especially given it’s the bank holiday. It really is a fantastic event full of wondrous new tastes and good times with friends. Michelle and I had a right laugh and good old gossip. All with a Gin in hand. Perfection.
I was gifted tickets to this event, however my opinions are my own.