Ahh, gin. That most delicious of juniper-based spirits, gin is refreshing, crisp, calming and tasty; a soothing balm after a stressful week at work, sunshine on a rainy day. We love it, you love it, everybody loves it.
Here in Bristol, we're lucky enough to be inundated with a positive plethora of local independent gin distilleries and micro-distilleries. This new generation of producers have blossomed across the city like beautiful flowers, flourishing under our joyful, excitable gaze and watering our thirsty mouths with their varied and exciting concoctions. Some members of the new gang are staying strictly traditional, distilling drinks similar to the classic London Dry style that we all know and love, whilst others are shaking things up with bonkers collaborations, insane flavour combinations and killer 75% creations. Bristol Dry Gin is a perfect hybrid of the two new breeds of distillery. Lurking amidst a warren of hidden tunnels and cellars beneath The Rummer in St Nicks market, the Bristol Dry Gin gang distill a capsule range of classic dry gins bottled at 40, 55 and 75%, as well as some utterly outlandish special limited editions including smoky bacon, pizza gin, and an Aquavit.
Hidden tunnels lurk beneath The Rummer and play host to the Bristol Dry Gin distillery
Gin Tastings at The Rummer
When Bristol Dry Gin announced that they were launching tastings of local gin, Team Wriggle leapt at the opportunity to give it a go. The tastings take place deep within the bowels of The Rummer, and so, one cold, wintery evening we trooped across to St Nicks and made our way down the stone steps into the belly of the beast. We were ushered inside by David Blatch, the charismatic, energetic founder of Bristol Dry Gin, who immediately thrust an enormous gin and tonic into each of our hands and showed us to our seats. The gin itself was Bristol Dry Gin's own take on a London Dry, served with a slice of fresh ginger, elderflower leaf, lime and juniper berries. It was refreshing, delicious, and utterly quaffable. We knocked them back.
David Blatch: the maestro at work
Botanicals, aromatics and more
Over the course of the next hour and a half, David talked us through the fundamentals of distilling, explaining both how a standard gin is made as well as the various techniques used to infuse additional flavours. David was overflowing with a boundless enthusiasm for and knowledge about all things gin, running around the distillery-cum-bar grabbing bottles, botanicals and glasses to show us. We inhaled the aroma of fragrant dried lime leaves, sniffed spicy, pungent cubeb pepper, shook glasses of aromatic all spice berries and cassia bark (shaking them releases their fragrances), and learnt about different flavour profiles of fresh and dried citrus peel.
Botanicals, aromatics and more...
We drank a lot of gin...
Then the real fun started, as David began talking us through a mind-boggling varied selection of locally distilled gins. The drinks came as thick and fast as the wisdom that poured out of David's mouth; it was a veritable flood of booze and knowledge. We sipped on Rhubarb & Ginger gin from Gin Jar, a tiny distillery crafting beautiful bottles topped with a luminous orange wax seal – a nod to their red-headed founder. We imbibed a hair-raising tot of Bristol Dry Gin's own grass-infused vodka, and quaffed a ridiculously tasty gin that tasted just like cherry Bakewell tart (we won't give away the secret ingredient – go to a tasting and figure it out for yourselves!) There was a smokey bacon infused gin that divided opinion, a traditional London style dry gin distilled in Bath, a lavender-scented beauty from Cotswolds Distillery, and Bristol Dry Gin's own Aquavit, an amber liqueur flavoured caraway infused aromatic. At the end of the tasting, birthday boy and Wriggle's resident lightweight legend Stephen was treated to a punchy 75% shot – against all the odds, he survived the night and even made it into work the next day.
A small, non-exhaustive selection of the gins we sampled...
The evening was absolutely fantastic; we all learned tonnes from the enigmatic and entertaining David, and came away even more enthused about our beloved gin than before. It's the perfect activity for so many occasions; a first date, a cheeky mother's day gift, or perhaps even a boozy team building exercise.
Book your spot on a Saturday afternoon tasting here, or for the 7pm tastings on Fridays and Saturdays, click here.