Saturday, 27 October 2012

London Cocktail Week : Tuesday - Mini Ginstitute

So, first event of London Cocktail Week, and something I was sooooo excited about. It was a mini version of Jake Burger's Ginstitute usually based above the Portobello Star, a fabulous Portobello Road bar. Do not miss their Whisky Mac No 2 if you pass by.

The Ginstitute Batch Still
This had moved from west to east and set up shop in Seven Dials. On arrival we were offered a gin drink straight off with their own - very tasty - gin, Portobello Road. Then we settled in for some gin history from Jake himself. I have worked in the gin industry for almost year and I would say that about 40% of what we were told was new to me so totally interesting, even for the pros.

Then we had a quick break, moved on a Gin Collins, and started tasting. We had about 25 botanicals to work through, both smelling them and tasting them. We started with juniper, obviously, which Jake suggests makes up at least 40% of a gin. (Remember a gin by definition is a juniper forward distilled spirit) Then we worked through the spices from angelica to liquorice to cardamom. Next up was the fruits like lemon, lime, apricot stone and lavender. All the while we were taking notes as the important part was still to come...making our own!

Mixing Up My Gin!
I was up first and spent a few minutes discussing my favourite gins with Jake to decide which direction to take the gin. The conclusion - 'masculine', spicy, with body. Jake's assistants then stepped up and started measuring out my gin in a huge test tube. We then tried it and (very) happy with the results it was bottled, labelled and numbered so that Jake has my recipe when I want to reorder. And I will.

I did ask if anyone has tried their gin and sent it back to try again. Apparently not but that is why Jake is there, to guide you through the process, and advised you choose between 8 and 14 botanicals. I was hoping to be in the lower range but ended up with 11.

Bar Hopper Gin
The surprise of the day was the Yorkshire tea botanical. As a non-tea drinker I thought this would not be my favourite but I added a generous whack into my gin. It was slightly sweet and added nice tannins. This was specially designed between Jake and Yorkshire tea so I am not surprised it tastes so good!

I would thoroughly recommend this experience to everyone. It is not cheap but you do get a complete history of gin, you are surrounded by history and you leave with your own bottle that can be re-ordered for £37/bottle.


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