Everything you need to know about Ipswich Maritime Gin Festival
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The event (which includes a fireworks spectacular and river cruise for 2019) sold out last year so grab your tickets now.
Following the success of their inaugural event last summer, Ipswich-based Beer&Co are bringing back the Ipswich Maritime Gin Festival next month with four sessions planned at different locations in the town. The unique events, from August 15 to 17, are totally original, including not only tastings of some of the UK's best spirits, but also experiences, from a river cruise, to a garden party, drinks with the captain and a fireworks spectacular.
Each of the sessions has been curated in partnership with Adnams Tonic Water, and includes a specified number of G&T mixes, industry insights and tasting notes courtesy of the guest hosts. Gin on the Orwell (£35pp) is on Thursday, August 15, from 7pm to 9pm aboard The Orwell Lady, including four G&Ts made with Adnams gin and tonic. The Gin Garden Party (£25pp) includes five G&Ts and live music at Cake & Catwalk on Friday, August 16 from 7pm to 9.30pm. The event features the gin of Norfolk's St. Giles Distillery. On Saturday, August 17 (£30pp) climb aboard the Sail Barge Victor from 2pm to 4.30pm where you can sample five G&Ts made with gin from Bullards Distillery in Norwich. Also on Saturday (£30pp) from 7pm to 10pm, join Haymans Distillery at Jerwood DanceHouse on Ipswich Waterfront. The ticket price includes five G&Ts and fireworks! Book your tickets here.
Beer&Co's top five gins
Organiser Gregory Cooper gives the lowdown on some of his favourite gins - many of which will be featured in the festival.
1. St. Giles Divers Edition Gin
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This is a 57% ABV naval strength gin from St. Giles that really encapsulates the smooth blend of flavours that this celebrated distillery from Norfolk is renowned for.
As well as boasting a higher-than-the-average ABV, this limited edition gin is created using a distinctive blend of 10 carefully selected botanicals, including Norfolk samphire, cubeb berries, sea kelp and liquorice root - infused in their bespoke copper still by head distiller Pete Margree.
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The story goes that in the 18th century the Royal Navy issued all sailors a daily tot of gin or rum. In order to ensure that the gin hadn't been watered down, sailors would 'prove' the spirit's strength by mixing it with gunpowder and then lighting it. If it exploded they knew the alcohol content was greater than 57% volume, if it did not, and it fizzled, they knew it was less than 57% and they had been given a watered-down batch. We don't recommend adding gunpowder to your spirit, but a dash of tonic and slice of pink grapefruit is a winning addition!
2. Bullards Strawberry & Black Pepper Gin
Crafted in the heart of Norwich with fresh strawberries during distillation and infusion, Bullards sensational Strawberry & Black Pepper Gin really is the essence of summer in a glass: soft strawberry fruit contrasts with warming black pepper and juniper spice.
Sweet and fruity (with just a hint of tartness), the peppery juniper is offset with the black pepper - adding a slight kick with a pleasantly dry finish. This gin has reviewers gushing.
3. Portabello Road Gin NO. 171
This classic London Dry, hailing from Portobello Road's infamous address is a clean and honest blend of nine botanicals including a generous slug of juniper, and a fresh citrus character from their use of lemon, bitter orange and coriander, developing into a sweet peppery finish, achieved by the use of liquorice and nutmeg.
This is an exceptionally versatile gin, and lends itself beautifully to a range of gin cocktail mixes.
4. Adnams 'Rising Sun' Gin
This is my personal favourite from the superb collection from the stills of Suffolk's finest, that head distiller John McCarthy will be serving at the Ipswich Maritime Gin Festival.
Rising Sun was developed to offer something completely different to the other Adnams gins. It contains eight botanicals including lemongrass and matcha tea, plus juniper of course, with smaller amounts of orange peel, ginger, grains of paradise, cubeb berries and angelica to add complexity and a subtle spiciness to the gin.
With an exceptionally refreshing and exquisite flavour and full of natural aromatic flavours, this gin is at it's best when garnished with ginger and lime zest.
5. Black Tomato Gin
Our final pick of 'must try' gins is a very unique and specialist variety that we first tasted at our inaugural festival in 2018.
This Black Tomato Gin, which has a distinctively sweet and fruitily fresh taste, is distilled at the grain-to-glass Kampen Distillery in Zeeland, Holland, and features the namesake tomatoes, alongside juniper berries, fresh and purified salt water and one secret botanical.
To make the gin, the tomatoes are freshly plucked and smashed with neutral spirit. The liquid is filtered and distilled. Juniper and the secret botanical are then processed as separate distillates, and the three spirits are combined before the purified salt water is added.
Perhaps best served neat, with a cube of ice and sliver of chilli to really accentuate this special blend - it is undoubtedly one that everybody should try.