The Gin Festival, Leicester | Chin Chin!

The Gin Festival Leicester


Me and gin haven't always been the best of friends. I tried it in one of those pre-made cans with tonic when I was about 18 and instantly disliked it, and didn't touch it again for a long time. Over the last few years, my penchant for alcohol drastically changed. When I moved home from uni, I realised I simply did not enjoy going out and getting drunk in clubs, and when I stopped doing it to please my social circle, I became undeniably happier. It took around a year to properly enjoy alcohol again, and finding my go-to drink definitely played a large part in that. Not being a huge wine drinker, cocktails seemed to fit the bill perfectly, but as much as I love me a mojito, I'm also just as likely to ask for a G&T.

Luckily, gin is fast growing in popularity, and there are now so many more choices available for the gin fanatic. That's where the Gin Festival comes in, a dedicated event which travels to cities all around the country, celebrating everything we know and love about the juniper-based spirit. I was kindly invited to the Leicester event recently, so I popped down with my fellow gin lover, Emmie from Carpe Diem Emmie, to see what they had in store!

The Gin Festival is a concept created by husband and wife, Jym and Marie in 2012, after being disappointed with the quality, choice and atmosphere of existing gin bars and tastings. It left them with the desire to bring something completely unique to the table, and so the Gin Festival was born. Their aim was to combine the most exciting and exotic gins with educational talks and masterclasses, and to unite a community of gin lovers.


The Gin Festival Leicester


When we arrived at the Athena, a super cool refurbished 1920's cinema located in Leicester's fashionable Cultural Quarter, we were greeted by the lovely PR, who gave us our passes and gin pack. This included a ton of info on the event, as well as cute cute little touches like GinFest sweets. We also were given our Gin Festival glass, which we would take around with us to be topped up throughout the event, and then we could take it home afterwards too!

We were kindly given some drinks tokens to get us started, but you could purchase them for £5, which would get you a measure of gin and your choice of tonic, provided by Fever-Tree. One of the most useful things we had was The Gin Book, a comprehensive guide of all the gins at the event, with information, tasting notes and mixer/garnish suggestions. It certainly was a huge help on the day, and I know it'll be really handy to keep in case I want to make a gin purchase.


The Gin Festival Leicester


It was the first time that I had been to the Athena, and I couldn't stop taking pictures of the decor and the grand architecture, it was absolutely stunning! It was definitely a bigger event than I expected it to be, and the venue was bustling with people enjoying the atmosphere. The event hosted 100 different gins split over 4 bars, as well as a cocktail bar (which we completely forgot about!). There was also a food stall (good to line the stomachs), and an "off-licence", where you could purchase full-sized bottles of your new favourites to take home. 


The Gin Festival Leicester
The Gin Festival Leicester


After getting our bearings, we decided to pay a visit to some of the brands showcasing their products. The first to catch our eye was Pinkster. The bottles are absolutely stunning, and house a delicious dry gin, flavoured with raspberry to counteract the tartness of the juniper berry.  I'm sure this would be amazing in a cocktail with some kind of raspberry puree and mint!

We were desperate for our first proper drink of the day, so we hotfooted it to the nearest bar, to be greeted by a huge selection. Being a terrible decision maker in general, I asked for the barman's recommendations (I found all the bar staff to be extremely knowledgeable), and he suggested I try Brockmans. This was quite possibly the highlight of the day, being a sweet and fruity blend with blackberries and blueberries. It is a truly modern, luxurious gin and is a world away from the traditional dry gin. This was served with a pink grapefruit and blueberry garnish and paired with classic tonic. Em chose the Eccentric Citrus Overload, which was also delicious, a bright and aromatic gin, infused with lemon, orange, grapefruit and coriander seeds. 


The Gin Festival Leicester
The Gin Festival Leicester
The Gin Festival Leicester
The Gin Festival Leicester


We decided to sit and enjoy our drinks and take in the wonderful atmosphere, helped greatly by the live jazz duo. After trying (and failing) to master the Photo Booth, we decided we needed more gin (naturally), so we worked our way around more of the stands. A brand that really caught my eye with their apothecary-style display was Poetic License, an independent small-batch distillery. The first of two offerings was their Old Tom Gin. Having only recently discovered the delights of the mellower Old Tom, I was keen to try this. Poetic Licence's take is aged in wooden barrels, and gives the spirit a unique woody undertone. Combined with sweet floral notes, it takes on a stunning rose gold shade and is delicious with ginger ale. 

Next up was their Northern Dry Gin, which is a bold mix of intense juniper, balanced by the deliciously unique flavours of green cardamom. It also has perfume-like citrus notes from lemon, lime, eucalyptus and a grounding base of rye and vanilla. This one certainly is memorable, and provides a surprisingly smooth finish. If you're a lover of cardamom in desserts in particular, this isn't one to be missed!

I also enjoyed trying the Sir Robin of Locksley gin, a unique blend that with a punchy juniper hit, balanced by the addition of sweet elderflower, and lifted by citrussy grapefruit notes. This is an extremely smooth gin, perfect for sipping, but I particularly enjoyed this paired with elderflower tonic. It was a toss up between choosing this one or something new for my second drink, but in the end I went with another bartender's recommendation, Rock Rose. This is a zesty dry gin hailing from Scotland, with an aromatic and clean juniper note. It was excellent, but I didn't love this one as much as others I had tried in the day as it wasn't overly special.


The Gin Festival Leicester
The Gin Festival Leicester


The Gin Festival was also showcasing their Gin Explorer subscription, to allow you to have the GinFest experience from the comfort of your own home. From £25 a month, you can enjoy a selection of four different 50ml bottles of gin which are handpicked by their experts, as well as gourmet tonics and mixers and extra treats too! This would make the perfect Christmas gift for the gin lover in your family (mum if you're reading this, yes this is a hint). After leafing through The Gin Book, it has left me with a ten-strong list of gins to try, so this would be absolutely perfect without having to commit to a full bottle.

The Gin Festival was a really enjoyable event, with a buzzing atmosphere and unique retro feel. I've come away loving gin even more, having found a few new brands that I love. There was so much attention to detail, and having The Gin Book and being able to keep the glass were really lovely touches and just adds to it being value for money. If you are a gin lover (and if you're not, get out), I would definitely recommend getting yourself down to one of the Gin Festivals. Tickets cost around £10 depending on location, and there are events happening all around the country. You'd be silly to miss out!

Have you ever been to The Gin Festival?
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*Ticket kindly provided by The Gin Festival Team in return for this review

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Hi, I'm Kirstie and I'm the girl with an addiction to perfume

Hi, I'm Kirstie and I'm the girl with an addiction to perfume
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