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Less than 8 Weeks to go… Here’s why we love Junipalooza

Junipalooza logo 2018, Junipalooza, World Gin Day
Written by Gin Foundry

Many look at Junipalooza as a gin festival and as another event where you can taste some gin. Of course, it is this, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

While going there to discover a couple of new gins is great, you’ll get much more out of the event if you can do a little bit of forward planning. There’s always been a massive amount of exhibitors in years gone by, experiences to have and people to interact with, listen to and learn off – and this year is set to be the biggest Junipalooza we’ve ever done.

Don’t worry though, we’ll be releasing maps, “must visit stands” from various critics and a few tips over the next 7 weeks to help you with all of this – so stay tuned for more!

For those who haven’t been, Junipalooza is a once a year opportunity to meet the makers and to see the full spectrum the Gin category has to offer – in all its permutations and intricacies.

There is no-where else (unless you go to the Hamburg or Melbourne editions!) that you can do this. We go to many gin festivals, gin summits and gin shows. We love them but can tell you first hand, and hand on heart, that while they are so much fun and are often well organised, brilliant events, they do not have the same depth to engage with and there in lies the opportunity that guests have at Junipalooza

Junipalooza as a show has a focus on the people behind the spirits – the distillers and owners. Our policy is simple: the maker or owner must be there, in person and such a strict policy makes it unique in the UK. It’s also why we can only do it once a year here. As always, because of this, it means that there are some makers who will be travelling from the other side of the world to be there and to serve their gins.

For example, this year we’ll have Four Pillars, whom are THE success story of the past 3 years and fast becoming a familiar name for many discerning drinkers. When you meet co-owner Stuart Gregor, you’ll see why they have become such an established figure. It’s not just about their tasty Australian Gin carrying a sense of place, it’s about raw passion and contagious enthusiasm that’s hard to not be enlivened by.

From the other side of the world, California based 209 Gin have long been flying the US gin flag in the UK, but almost never have the team themselves been visible, or been on the front line to engage with British drinkers until now. In their Master Distiller Arne Hillesland, you’ll see not just his, but the creativity all distillers bring with them. Former saxophonist and as San Fransisco stalwart, Arne has the combination of a laid back friendly nature with some sincerely perceptive insight that really helps contextualise what both his, and in many ways, all gin is about. That is something you only get when you meet the makers first hand.

In contrast to the more established international names, and something that year after year has also been one of the most interesting parts of Junipalooza, is getting to see producers at a really early stage of their ginsmithing careers. This year, the two bro’s behind Griffith Brothers Gin will be making their first major public outing, having enjoyed fantastic early success in their first twelve months to date. There will also be Gower Gin, the soon to be revealed Twelve Keys that we can only tease you about now, Dog House Distilling, Hidden Curiosities and more.

To see these intrepid newbie ginsmiths at the start of their journey is a rare opportunity to get a sense of where they are going and what they aspire towards. It’s a snapshot into a moment in time and Junipalooza is a unique place to be able to go and judge where these individuals and characters are in their ventures. In our opinion, it is as fascinating to observe the human journey as it is to enjoy their newly made gins.

This human connection doesn’t just stop at newbies either. Hopefully, while you are tasting truly great craft gins, you will get a sense of the personality of all of the distilleries too. We say it time and again because it is true; the spirit you drink is a direct reflection of the spirit of its makers. It is their ideas, process and personality that is echoed in the bottles they make. Because of that, and because Junipalooza is a Meet the Maker show (that we take great lengths to put in place and enforce with the brands), it is more than just about gin.

We’re taking this element one step further this year. We want to bring the brands alive too. We’re bringing in four experiences that will bring to life the identity of the gins and take them into a more immersive level. For example, Copperhead will be recreating London’s famous Gibson Bar and Caorunn will be creating an entire Highland Bothy, complete with a copper-clad tree and workshops with their Master Distiller Simon.

Lastly, Junipalooza, now in its 5th year has become a focal point in many gin enthusiasts’ calendars. It’s a pressure we are grateful for and don’t take lightly. We strive to rise to the challenge of doing better each year in order to maintain that trust and your interest!

Thankfully, when in their great congregations, it’s plain to see the gin community is a friendly one and together they make Junipalooza the type of event where everyone gets together with real camaraderie.

Alongside the occasional drinkers and the gin connoisseurs, you’ll also find the best part of a dozen specialist bloggers there on any given session too. All love sharing their tips and trends and they are each a fountain of knowledge on the category. Ask around for advice, follow the #Junipalooza tag and you’ll find numerous friendly faces and informative social media posts to help guide you to something that will suit your preferences. It’s our favourite part of the show, as it is organic and something we couldn’t hope to have implemented all by ourselves here at Gin Foundry .

More so, Gin Foundry readers are the most SUPER GEEKY of super-geek-gin enthusiasts in the UK. We’re incredibly proud about that and almost burst with joy like proud parents when we see it first hand. There have been numerous occasions where we’ve seen people in the trade ask guests at one of our events if they worked in the industry, having just been on the receiving end of a brilliant piece of insight – they don’t, they are just awesome, love gin and know their Juniper Communis from their coriander seed.

So, don’t be shy to tap the person next to you on the shoulder and ask for a tip – more often than not, you’ll find that they won’t just give you the inside track on what tastes great and who’s a joy to chat to, their enthusiasm and passion will be hugely contagious too….

Less than 8 weeks to go… Happy Junipalooza folks.


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