Imbibe Live 2016
We came, we saw, we Imbibed… perhaps a little too much from certain stands, actually, but what choice did we have? There was a mind-boggling amount of gin on display at this year’s Imbibe Live event and in our capacity as uber geeks, we were duty bound to try as many as we could.
We had a stand ourselves for the first time too, where we played host to Makar Glasgow Gin, Blackwater Distillery, Pothecary Gin, 58 Gin and premium mixer makers Merchant’s Heart, all of whom were hard at work, spinning drinks and tales to the industry and demonstrating their considerably exemplary wares.
Pothecary Gin, which had its official launch at Junipalooza in June, continued to cut swathes through the gin jungle, going ahead full steam and impressing the Imbibe crowd with their unique lavender forward spirit. Blackwater, too, brought along their impressive trio of drinks, treating visitors to their Wexford Strawberry Gin – a truly summery, truly scrumptious sipper.
58 Gin’s Mark Marmont was on hand to discuss the finer elements of his London made gin and to share tasters with the crowd, while Merchant’s Heart were very happy to introduce the trade to their all-encompassing range of spirit enhancers. Incidentally, if you do see their tonics in bars, they are a must try.
Makar Glasgow Gin gave Imbibe guests a glimpse of their soon to be released limited edition Mulberry Barrel Aged Gin, a mellow yellow edition of their chock-full-of-juniper flagship expression. Barrel aged was the talk of the town, naturally, with many distilleries ecstatically holding aloft their wood infused spirits.
Naturally we have a soft spot for all the gins above, after-all, they specifically wanted them to be a part of our little gin hub, but what about the best of the rest? Four Pillars was the first stand we stopped by, with co-founder Stuart Gregor in his usual hyperactive form, shouting “smash it down” between samples so we could move from the flagship, onto the Bloody Shiraz and then to their Chardonnay barrel aged. “It’s fine, it’s eleven O’Clock,” he said.
The Bloody Shiraz is a sweet, supple gin – mightily sippable at 37.8% and so rich with flavour that it feels alive on the tongue. An absolute treat and a great alternative for those who are looking for something fruity to replace Sloe Gin. Their barrel aged, too, is a wonderfully rounded expression; the wood doesn’t make any attempts to dominate the gin’s spicy palate, instead imparting a gentle calm upon proceedings.
New and nearly new producers were there in abundance; Winchester Distillery helped us to a sample of their Watercress Gin, Sibling Distillery poured us a sip of their spirit (Pink Pepper Gin fans really need to get hold of a bottle) and 55 Above introduced us to their Orange Gin – an absolute citrussy circus gin that would make for a very lively G&T.
European gins were also represented, with Spirits by Design hosting a stand full of some of the most “progressive” gins we’ve tried in a long time. A cavalcade of Belgian spirits lined the table, each a gastronomic interpretation of our favourite tipple. Gilliam’s Gin was a apple-forward treat, while Lobstar Gin did exactly what it said on the tin (and with 250g of lobster used per bottle, who’d expect it to be anything but a mouth-confusing, mind-blowing, why would you do that, not sure what to say, kind of drink).
Gin is an ever-evolving spirit, and while America has been leading the way in creating new wave interpretations, going by this lot we’d put some money on the Belgian’s usurping them soon.
Italy, too, was present in the form of Bordiga, who brought along their beautifully packaged Dry Gin, Rose Gin and Smoked Juniper Gin, the latter of which was right up our street.
All in all, Imbibe Live was a rousing affair for us. Not just because our hub was a huge success and meant that we could help facilitate those looking for tasty gin find some of our favourite producers, but also to see the category that we love and champion represented so broadly, and with so much passion behind it.
Gin is in, and we are oh so happy to be a part of its bright and wonderful world.
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