The Gin Festival Nottingham

I really bloody loved The Gin Festival when it came to Leicester last November. I rabbited on about it for weeks after (read the post here), because I thought it was such a great concept, combining the sport of gin drinking with a little bit of education too. It's been cited by The Daily Express as one of the "Top places in the UK every gin lover must visit".” and I wholeheartedly agree with that! Leicester's event was held at The Athena, a venue which 100% fit the speakeasy vibe of the event, and gave it such an incredible atmosphere and buzz. I tagged along to the Nottingham festival with my gin-loving bestie Emmie to see whether it could steal my heart once again!

The event was held in the Nottingham Conference Centre between Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd April. The event was held between 12.30 and 5pm both days, as well as a bonus sitting on Saturday evening, so we again opted for the Saturday daytime slot. The ticket price of £10.46 (£9.50 + 96p processing fee) gets you the coveted Gin Festival Copa Balloon Glass and The Gin Book, which gives you information on every single gin that is served at the event. There is so much choice that believe me, you will need it, and it's also a really nice resource to have at home when choosing your next bottle. The bars operate on a token system, so you need to purchase tokens for £5 each. You keep your Gin Festival glass with you throughout the event and hand it to the bar staff to fill with a single shot of your gin of choice, corresponding garnish and then you can add any Fever-Tree tonic to taste. Alternatively, you can combine two tokens (£10) to exchange for a cocktail at the cocktail bar.

The Gin Festival Nottingham

The event was split over two floors, with two sets of bars on the ground, and one on the upstairs. As with the previous event, there were four separate bars in each area, each covering a different genre of gins, all of which were found in the handy gin guide. There was also a three-piece band entertaining the crowds on a small stage on the ground floor, adding some much needed atmosphere to the expansive venue. One of the highlights of the Leicester event was getting the chance to chat to brands and sample lots of different types of gins, and the brands seemed to be tucked away in a separate room upstairs, rather than being in the centre of the action at the Leicester event.

The Nottingham event seemed to be a lot busier than the Leicester event, and we spent quite a lot of time queuing, whether that was for drinks or to talk with brands, and I only really got the chance to properly speak to one brand, the others more concerned with handing out a sample to everyone than providing any information about the brand. I understand that some people are only interested in the drinking, but other gin enthusiasts might be looking for a personal insight into the brand, which delves deeper than a list of notes you can find on a website.

The Gin Festival Nottingham

Onto the Gin!

For my first drink, I chose the rather attractive blush pink 5th - Fire, which originates from Barcelona. It is described as a silky sweet gin, with notes of blackcurrant, blackberry, blueberry, gooseberry and and strawberry which, for me, was the prominent note. It was garnished with a strawberry, and paired with Elderflower Tonic. Em's poison of choice was the Addingham Sloe gin, which had notes of almond accompanying the sloe berries. Matching with Lemon Tonic, this 25% ABV gin is an easy and delicious summer drink, reminiscent of strawberry lemonade.

The Gin Festival Nottingham Poetic Licence

We went to explore the brand area, and I found myself drawn in by the bright pop of yellow branding of Tinker gin. We were priviledged to enjoy a drink from Tinker's very first batch, and it is yet to launch nationwide. Tinker is a British made, Spanish style gin, it is designed to create the perfect G&T. It has an experimental list of notes, with juniper, coriander, orange, lemon, cassia, cinnamon, orris, angelica, licorice, nutmeg and elderberries. The result is a delightfully fresh gin, heavy on the citrus, with an underlying berry sweetness and body from the spices.

The Gin Festival Nottingham Willem Barentsz
The Gin Festival Nottingham Brockman's

The next brand that drew me in was Willem Barentsz, created for a pioneering Arctic explorer. Willem Barentsz is a soft gin with gentle floral tones of jasmine, as well as orange, piney citrus and cinnamon with a split wheat and rye base. This wasn't my favourite gin, as I tend to prefer drier rather than sweeter drinking gins, especially when having it neat, but it was interesting to see how the jasmine note worked in a drink rather than in the fragrances I am used to seeing it in! Lastly, I couldn't resist a wee nip of Brockman's, which I tried at the last Gin Festival. With its notes of vibrant blackberry and blueberry, this is an experimental gin that works so so well! 

We headed back to the main bar area for another drink and after much debating, I decided on Half Hitch. I'm a big earl grey tea drinker, so I was eager to try this and see how the bergamot flavours translated into a gin. It contains essences of black Malawian tea, with classic bergamot, sweet orange, nutmeg and bell pepper spice. Served with a slice of orange and Fever-Tree Indian Tonic, it made for a very refreshing G&T, with a sweeter orange opening, before moving into a drier bergamot and pine flavour, leaving that distinctive Earl Grey feel in your mouth. Em stuck to the fruitier gins of bar D, and went for Sovereign Apple and Blackberry, which arrived with a fresh apple slice and lemon tonic. This was a very syrupy sweet combination that was very reminiscent of blackcurrant squash. I tend to prefer fresher notes when I'm going for a gin, but this tasted like a cocktail, perfect for an easy introduction to the gin world - this is a non-gin lover's gin! 

The Gin Festival Nottingham

I did come away feeling a bit disappointed by the Nottingham Gin Festival. I felt that the venue didn't click with the concept of the event in the way that the Athena did, and there wasn't as great an atmosphere. However I did enjoy trying all the new gins, and I do still plan to go the next Leicester event. There are so many more gins left un-drank, and I'm making a list from my gin book - I've got my eye on Daffy's, Leeds Gin and Black Tomato Gin to try next!

Have you ever been to The Gin Festival?