Gin for the win, they say! What better way to find out what your tipple is than to attend a festival especially for gin lovers. I’ve only ever been to a chilli festival in my time so I was excited to have been invited to The Gin Festival 2018 held in Torquay, Devon. This is the second gin festival that has been held in The Assembly Hall in Torquay, organisers were expecting a whopping 1,500 gin fans across 3 separate sessions.
Upon arriving we were greeted by a lovely team who informed us of what was what, I took Mr K with me as I knew he would enjoy the experience just as much as me. We were given a goodie bag and two smaller bags that would house our huge copa gin glasses. Once inside the hall we had a good look at the Festival Guide that we were given, it had so much information inside and answered everything you needed to know.
Being a Gin Festival virgin I was a bit confused as to what was happening but the first thing you need to do is make your way to the Token Desk. To make life easier and service more swift no cash is taken at any of the bars set out, instead you go to the Token Desk and exchange cash for tokens, we had 4 complimentary tokens which was more than enough to get the most out of our time there.
The way in which the festival is set out is there are a number of small bars which are labelled A, B, C, D & E. Each bar had different gins for you to enjoy, no two bars stocked the same gin so you really were able to explore new tastes. What I found really useful was The Wheel of Wonder, which is in the gin guide and is a colourful wheel setting out what tonics and garnish go with a specific gin, for example;
If you were trying a floral gin then a cucumber tonic would work best along with a garnish of citrus peel and flowers.
Along the way there are stations set up for sampling gins, we made our way to the Tinker stand to try the delicious Tinker Gin which was really refreshing and light, mixed with tonic it was very tasty. Some of the samples are already mixed with tonic but I found out the hard way that not all had tonic in them. When trying the Brockmans Premium Gin I drank it like a shot as I thought it was already mixed, it nearly blew my head off! Safe to say I was tipsy after two samples and a glass of gin and tonic.
I’m a trooper though and kept going, ha ha. I really wanted to try the Boe Violet Gin, not because I heard it was scrumptious but I just loved the colour of it and the bottle was very trendy. This particular gin is garnished with blueberries and topped with a floral tonic water, oh it was delicious I even ate the blueberries afterwards – not my best idea.
The atmosphere was buzzing and lively, I thought we would be packed in like sardines but there was plenty of room to move around and the queue for the bars was minimal. The only thing that I was slightly disappointed with is we weren’t able to attend a Gin Masterclass as there was a stampede for this. But other than that the event was brilliant.
There is a tempting food station to help absorb the gin where they serve mouth-watering hog roasts, chicken dishes, sausages and beef dishes which are really well priced. At the other end of the hall is a gin shop stocking all of the gins that were on offer at the bars, I’m a sucker for packaging so had to resist all the beautiful bottles that would look great in my kitchen on display.
We spent around 2 hours mooching and enjoying our drinks, if we had any questions about gin we could go to the stations and ask the bar staff and you were even able to meet the Gin Distillers which was pretty cool. Would I go again? I absolutely would, I think food and drink festivals are a great idea and it is good to try something different, they give you the opportunity to relax, have fun, try drinks you wouldn’t necessarily be drawn to and they are a great social event.
The funniest moment of the event was when Mr K tried the Black Tomato Gin, this gin is 100% organic and made from black tomatoes grown near the distillery and fresh, crisp water from local wetlands, it is garnished with basil. At first he seemed to like it, he said it was a bit different but tasty, this lasted all of 10 seconds before letting me try it. I’m sorry to say it was like drinking an alcoholic glass of tomato soup and made us feel quite queasy by the end.
We really did have a great time, the experience was stress-free and fun I couldn’t believe how many different types of gin were available. Do you have a favourite gin?
Disclaimer: I was invited to attend The Gin Festival in exchange for an honest review.