Review | The Great British Gin Festival

By Ilona Cabral

“Even if you think you don’t like gin, there’ll be a gin here for you!”

This weekend crowds of Cardiffian gin enthusiasts queued in anticipation for some mouth-watering cocktails, gins and toe-tapping live entertainment.

On entering the festival, I was equipped with a Gin glass and a Gin Bible, detailing the 101 gins available on sale. The festival offers included 4 gins for £20 or 6 gins for £30 and, considering the additional free tasters, I thought it would be safe to stick with four (though I was sorely tempted to try more!)

British Polo Sloe Gin No.2

This Sloe gin burst with flavour due to the “hand foraged slow berries ripped on British hedgerows in the Autumnal sunshine” and, since it is a lot less syrupy than regular sloe gin, it mixed exceptionally well with fizz or Ginger beer and a lime wedge. This is not really the best option for someone with a sweet tooth but would provide a refreshing summer drink.

Yerburgh’s Jam Jar Gin

Served aesthetically in a jam jar, this gin provided an element of whimsy and is a perfect drink for a summer picnic. With notes of fresh vanilla, mint, raspberry compote and slightly peppery juniper its taste is as pleasant as its presentation.

Keepr’s Honey Gin

Attempting to make their classic London Dry Gin even better, this company infused their traditional recipe mixture with raw honey from the Cotswolds in Oxfordshire. Served with a refreshing rosemary garnish, this drinks’ delicate honey sweetness provides an interesting and welcome twist to this quintessentially British drink.

McQueen Mocha Gin

If you’re a coffee fan and a gin enthusiast this may just be the perfect drink for you. With unmistakable notes of coffee and chocolate and a refreshing grapefruit serve this surprisingly light drink is a perfect digestif.

Whilst sipping on my gin I was also able to chat with some of the GinSmith vendors around the festival: Brockman’s, BHI and Agnes Arber Premium Gins. Each company had different histories and aims but all were passionate about providing the best gins out there. While Brockman’s has been an established for over 50 years, they have only created one variant of gin; they believe that to make gin properly you only have to do it once! They took considerable effort when serving samples, asking people to first taste the gin neat, then with tonic and ice and finally with a curlicue of red grapefruit; allowing them to fully appreciate the flavour of the gin. BHI and Agnes Arber also provided samples of flavoured gins; my favourite was definitely the Canadian English Garden Gin which had a citrusy yet soft sweetness.

However, gin was not the only drink available at the festival and, throughout the day, we were treated to several cocktail making demonstration. In expert hands, we were shown how to make the barbecue favourites: the Negroni, the English Garden and the White Lady. Chatting with the lovely bartender afterwards I was also able to note down the recipes!

Negroni Recipe

Serve in an Old-fashioned glass

45ml Dry Gin

45ml Vermouth

45ml Campari

  1. Chill the glass with ice
  2. Pour all the ingredients into an ice-filled glass and stir
  3. Garnish with orange zest twist

For more recipes see Difford’s Guide

I cannot think of a better way to spend a Saturday than, sipping my gin with friends, listening to live music (by Swansea band JayCe) and nibbling delicious food (provided by Jamaican food company Pirates from the Carribbean). If you think the same, I would definitely check if the Great British Gin Festival will be near you this summer!