Review: Gin Festival, Brighton

Gin, as you may have noticed, has recently been going through a resurgence; there are currently over 600 different active gin brand in the world!

Making the most of this trend is couple Jym and Marie, the heroes that set up Gin Festival. When they headed to Brighton and invited us along, we rushed down to the Clarendon Centre to drink ALL THE GIN (please remember to drink responsibly).

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On arrival, we were handed a branded copa glass (the best way to drink gin don’t ya know) and a brilliant guide to all of the gins on offer. After a quick perusal, we headed upstairs to get trying, and headed straight to the Brockmans stand to have a chat to their team.

Brockmans use blueberries, blackberries and liquorice to create a unique tasting gin that has a sweetness from the berries and a tartness from the liquorice. Mixing it with ginger ale cancels out the sweeter notes and makes it a delightfully warming wintery drink.

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Popping to the stand next door, we tried a gin we'd never heard of – Sir Robin of Locksley. A quick taster led us downstairs to distiller John’s masterclass.

Mixing it with elderflower tonic whilst we learned about the history of gin, we also had a chat about why Brexit is effecting gin prices (sob). Created as a sipping gin, the main botanicals are elderflower, pink grapefruit and dandelion – again, the balance between the sweet and the tart works really well.

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After all the samples, we decided it was only about right to get a proper gin. Heading to Bar A (the Dry Gin bar) we plumped for a Slingsby Gin and a Silent Pool. Silent Pool is wonderful, leading us to ask “Where have you been my whole life!?”

Slingsby Gin stunned us to silence (momentarily) – clean and fresh with a hit of citrus fruit. Bar B gave us some unusual flavours in the form of Wild Mermaid Gin, complete with a slightly salty edge from the rock samphire picked from a secret location on the Isle of Wight, and Wicked Wolf, a new gin from Exmoor that is strong and punchy with Kaffir lime and hibiscus.

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Bar C featured foreign gins, where we opted for a try of American Aviation Gin. Gin in the USA is a bit different, as it doesn’t need to be as predominately juniper as it does in Europe, giving them greater flexibility with flavours. With a  smokey, savoury flavour similar to a Genever,  it made a nice change from the juniperheavy gins from the morning.

Over at Bar D - for flavoured gins – we tried some Zymurgorium Sweet Violet, and honestly, it was one of the best things we’d ever put in our mouths. It’s basically a glass of liquid Palma Violets.

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With live music and street food on sale, Gin Festival was a great afternoon out. They’re taking place all over the country so get involved – we’ll be the first to buy our tickets when it comes back. Keep an eye out, though, as you’ll have to beat the other 1,500 people that sold out this event to get yours!

Written by Jenny, our resident Gin Queen.

Read more over on her blog Jenny in Brighton, and follow her on Twitter @jennifermclaren and Instagram @jennymclaren