Gin Festival was established with the idea of creating a place where people could find new gins, learn more about them and just generally have a great time. So when the lovely people at Gin Festival got in touch, inviting me to check out their wonderful Festival in Peterborough, I literally jumped at the chance.
In the past, I have enjoyed a glass or two of gin, back in the day when gin was gin and tonic was, well, tonic, but oh my goodness has gin come along way since those days! This was our very first Gin Festival and it was AMAZING! There was a choice of three sessions to attend: Friday night, Saturday afternoon or Saturday night and we opted for the Saturday afternoon session.
The afternoon session started at 12:30 and we were advised to get there an hour later, to avoid the mad rush at the door. Now let me point out at this stage that I wasn’t completely sure about where exactly the Gin Festival was going to take place, was it going to be in the grounds of the Cathedral, or under a marquee I wondered, but no, it was actually in the Cathedral itself! I must admit, at first it did seem rather surreal, attending a gin festival in the centre of Peterborough Cathedral, but oddly enough it actually worked quite well.
When we arrived, we didn’t have to queue for very long and were shown in more or less straight away. Well, I thought booking the afternoon session would be a rather quiet affair, but let me tell you, it was anything but. The Cathedral was wall to wall packed with gin lovers and the atmosphere was fantastic. We were each given a special Gin Festival glass, together with The Gin Book, a comprehensive guide detailing all the wonderful gins available with in-depth explanations of which tonic and garnish went the best with each particular gin. For gin novices like myself and my hubby, this little blue book was just perfect for us.
We were also given cashless wristbands on our arrival, which could be topped up at various top up stations dotted around the Cathedral, so the first thing we did was put credit on our bands and off we went to explore. For Gin Festival virgins, using The Gin Book is an absolute must. It tells you what to do and how to do it and with over 100 gins on offer and a choice of 9 premium Fever-Tree tonics, we were definitely in need of some guidance.
There were four gin bars in total: A, B, C and D, each serving an array of different gins. After you had chosen your particular gin, complete with appropriate garnish, your wristband was read with a reader and the money deducted off. You then made your way over to the mixer stations, where Fever-Tree tonics were served to compliment your chosen gin. This was such a great way of doing things and it worked really well.
We both enjoyed two gins each, which was just perfect for us, especially as it was a Saturday afternoon (ahem). The first gins we tried were from bar A. I chose Tinker Gin, accompanied with Fever-Tree Light Tonic and garnished with a thin slice of pear and hubby tried Orkney Johnsmas Gin, accompanied with Fever-Tree Indian Tonic and garnished with a slice of lime. These were both nice, however I wasn’t that blown away by the taste. Time to move on to bar C, where we ordered another two different gins. Well, we definitely made the right decision here! I chose Puerto De Indias Strawberry Gin, accompanied with Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic and garnished with strawberries and raspberries, best decision EVER! And hubby chose Aduro Pink Passion Gin, accompanied with Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic and garnished with raspberry, mint and orange. Simply delicious. We couldn’t believe how lovely both of these gins tasted, such a vast improvement to the old gin and tonic served up in the past.
Different samples of gin were also available to try, with masterclasses on hand to improve your gin knowledge and if you fancied a gin cocktail, there were 6 delicious flavours to choose from too, but that’s not all. Whilst we were enjoying our gins, live music was playing throughout and we didn’t even need to worry about being hungry, as there were several street food pop-ups positioned in one area of the Cathedral. Gin Festival had literally thought of just about everything!
Eventually, like all good things, it was time to end our afternoon of gin exploration and get our lift home. I can honestly say, attending our very first Gin Festival was so much fun and such a fascinating eye-opener. I wholeheartedly recommend going to one and if you didn’t like gin before, you certainly will after.
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