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I have something to declare..


First and foremost (and we need to get this out of the way) I have to admit I’m still getting my head around cricket, but watch this space because It’s been on my bucket list for a while and 2020 (hopefully you get the connection) is the year I’ll nail it.


Anyway with that out of the way let’s get to the point in hand, Declaration Gin, a new arrival in The Gin Den this week, not gifted, not a sample, a bottle bought online and what a find. I have to admit I was intrigued from the start when I first discovered it on social media, then sat in the Dentist one day I found myself browsing through a magazine and the penny dropped, Michael Vaughan and his wife were half of a small team behind it who one day thought ‘let’s make gin’.

The more I read about it and the unique mix of botanicals, the more I needed to get five minutes in the day to order a bottle. So here it is and I have to say I was quite literally blown away by it when tasted neat with ice. The botanicals are not what I would have considered putting together but they compliment and set each other up perfectly, I then added premium tonic, a slice of orange (I’ll by trying with a cinnamon stick next) and the flavour just exploded on the tastebuds.

I know, I need to get on with it, so what are these botanicals?


Well, Juniper from Macedonia and ginger warmed by the Australian sun. Darjeeling tea handpicked on the Indian continent, plus liquorice root from Pontefract, West Yorkshire. All, seemingly evoque cricketing memories for Michael, that aside they each make a statement!

You know I love outdoor shots and Cricket is on the bucket list for this year so expect much more of this, for now, order a bottle! I have a feeling you might just like it!


📷 Image Copyright @the_ginden

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Welcome to The Gin Den

Welcome to The Gin Den Blog, I’m Andrew and my objective is to share with you my passion for all things Gin from across the world.

Born in Edinburgh, I’ve been in the Retail and Leisure industry for over 30 years and currently hold a Senior Manager Role in Leisure. This is a hobby on top of a more than full time job and both are hugely rewarding!

Firstly let’s start with what brought me to this point. In January 2018 with an interest in photography and Gin growing, I decided to combine the two and create The Gin Den Blog and Social Media Pages. My vision was to share and provide exposure to the ever expanding Gin industry and in particular Craft Distillers with a ‘not for profit’ ethos.

That vision remains true today and I continue to work with new and established distillers to raise the profile of their brands, provide advice on the most effective use of Social Media and grow The Gin Den following.

My approach is to keep Gin and Tonics simple, (took many great gins have been ruined by the wrong tonic or the need to include it in complex cocktails) so what you get at The Gin Den is a simple G&T that always started with a neat tasting for any new gins.

The Gins I feature are always recommended, If I don’t like it you won’t see it, I will provide professional feedback to the distiller on what in my view could be improved. But that’s only feedback, it doesn’t mean it’s not a great gin, it’s just not my kind of Gin.

I cover and provide advice on events, gin schools, new distilleries, bars and in essence anything Gin related.

I’m a brand champion as opposed to an influencer, the objective is to support Distillers and new businesses through whatever method I can.

My passion for Scottish Gin is well documented and in 2019 I was a huge supporter of International Scottish Day alongside my good friend and blogger Annabel – The Gin Judge. There are so many amazing Scottish Gins and in 2020 our plans are developing to really celebrate those distillers as well as the new and emerging gins from around the world that I’ll be covering at The Gin to My Tonic Shows and Festivals, Sussex Gin Fest l, Gin Live and Junipalooza in London

Finally, I hope you enjoy the blog and the Social Media pages, please get in touch if their is anything you think I can support with.

Andrew

The Gin Den

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Gorilla Spirits Gin School: The Gin Den Rating – Outstanding

The ethically driven Gorilla Spirits distillery in Upton Grey was the location for a fantastic afternoon a few weeks ago where I was lucky enough to be a ‘pupil’ at their gin school.

More on that shortly, but first a little bit about Gorilla Spirits and their ethos.

Founded in 2015 by Andy Daniels who decided one day that Gin Distilling was going to be his next challenge in life, (his wife we suspect thought he meant a ‘home brew” type approach as opposed to the scale the business has become.

From small beginnings the business has grown and from their business model on day one has donated £1 from every bottle sold to The Gorilla Organisation, with the objective of ensuring the continued existence of an endangered gorilla population. They are currently on track to be the single biggest donor to the cause. I frequently feature and talk about Gins who are giving something back, and this is a living and breathing example of how by capitilising on our growing desire for Gin, businesses can directly deliver benefit to a diverse range of charities and organisations.

The range of spirits they produce is varied and currently includes;

Silverback Mountain Strength Gin,
Silverback Raspberry Gin
Silverback Old Tom Gin,
Blackback Mountain Strength
Maraba Coffee Liqueur

But more is on the way….

Gorilla Spirits Gin mirrors so closely the creatures they are fighting to protect. The gin is, ‘strong and gentle’, whilst Mountain Gorillas are strong gentle, shy yet powerful. These Silverback Gorillas will guard their band or troop before their own territory.

So on to the part you have all been waiting for, Gin School and the experience. Firstly, Gorilla spirits from the outside has to be one of the most unassuming buildings you will see, quite new, sleek and on the outskirts of a sleepy village (with a stunning pub ‘The Hoddington Arms’, who put service and the customer experience at the heart of what they do), yet not anywhere you would expect to find it.

BUT..and it’s a big but, from the moment you enter the building and see the forbidding huge model Gorilla at the top of a staircase enticing you up, it’s as though you have stepped through the Gin Looking Glass. The Gin School has an amazing bar and the walls around the entrance to the school are stocked with their fantastic range of Spirits and merchandise. At this point there was a mental shopping list being created for later. Kirsty, a key member of the team welcomed us and was absolutely fantastic from start to finish, with her complete focus on ensuring that the experience was memorable, keeping us on track at all times. It was an incredibly relaxed and chilled environment with Kirsty spending time with each of us as she needed to, not daunting just Gin Making.

Having been welcomed with a G&T, the Mini Copper Stills caught my eye surrounded by all of the ‘tools’ needed to create my own Gin. There were shelves of botanicals around the room lying in wait to be chosen for each of our Gin creations.

And so the school began, and after a really informative introduction I was provided with my own still and all of the detail I needed on each of the botanicals to start creating Gin using my still which was called ‘Gutangara’. I wont allude to a huge amount of detail on the process that followed, you should experience it for yourself, however if you are a complete beginner or a seasoned Gin expert, this is the Gin school for you. Your experience is subtly tailored to where you are on your Gin journey and you will love every minute.

With the botanicals chosen (and checked by Kirsty to ensure my creative juices were not about to result in a Gin no one would drink) the Gin distilling, and the name for The Gin Den creation chosen, we were given a tour of the rest of Gorilla Spirits by the aforementioned Andy, which was again informative at every level. Their approach to distilling and the journey they have taken to meet demand by gradually upscaling is admirable, they have a model that simply works.

So back to The Gin School and whilst my Gin was in the final stages of distillation, we stood at the bar and tried a number of amazing G&Ts and spirits from the Gorilla Spirits range, before moving back to our stills and taking the final steps to weighing and bottling our Gin. Kirsty ensured at all times we were all absolutely doing the right thing at the right time. Think Gin Coach not Gin Teacher.

And so it was bottled, and the labelling applied by each of us. My Gin named ‘From the Den’ was created.

With not all of the Gin distilled being able to fit in our bottles we were given a neat taste of our creation and then Kirsty made the perfect serve based on our choice of botanicals. Gin School was complete and the purchasing of some of the Gorilla Spirits Range completed.

Gorilla Spirits Gin School: The Gin Den Rating – Outstanding

Madame Jennifer

Love this from The Gin Judge

The Gin Judge

The Urban Small-Batch Distillery

“We both felt so welcome and had a brilliant afternoon tasting, learning and laughing.”

Myself and good friend Andrew aka The Gin Den headed to Hove to meet the lovely couple who distil a handful of gins (plus some other interesting spirits!) Ingar on the left is the Biologist and Ian is the Chemist. Hence the gin names!

The Biologist, the Chemist and Juniper (the dog)!

They’ve acquired the perfect spot on Montgomery Street in Poets Corner, Hove, which is just the right size for their still, bottles, botanicals and of course… a bed for Juniper! They’ve also got a handy storage room out the back.

So with a very warm welcome from Ian and Ingar we started out with a G&T, perfect! Thebiologist (my personal favourite as a citrus lover), which contains the following botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Orris root, Gorse flower, Chamomile, Grapefruit zest…

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The back story…

This weekend a trip back to the homeland of Scotland for The Gin To My Tonic show, that started with an overnight stay in Edinburgh with the family. I can’t ever go back to Scotland without a visit to Edinburgh, it’s my city of birth after all, but it has and continues to change so much in the time since I moved away from the area, that there’s always something new. Aside from the Scottish Gin explosion that’s visible in i’m sure every single pub and bar. The back stories to each Gin being created adding to the distilling history of Scotland.

As the snow came down, a coffee was needed at the train station with one local residents canvas bag proudly proclaiming ‘I’d rather be playing bridge’ (with a Gin and Tonic I’m sure)😊

The Train departed Glasgow bound and the snow became more evident, at this stage the concern was more about getting to the show than the four hour drive south the next day. #ginpriorities😊.

Fast forward an hour and a quick uber to the SEC and we were there. At this stage snow was gone the rain was hoofing it down. But who cares, its Gin we’re here for.

What a stunning location and venue, well laid out, loads of space and incredibly focused on the customer experience over the four and half hours of the event.

Over the next four hours I put faces to names from dozens of distillers, from family businesses to larger producers all so passionate about their product, and the vast majority so humble about the product they had worked tirelessly to create. Craft Gin producers are usually part of a VERY small team who are in the midst of a market explosion with more and more new names joining the market each month. All keen for you to try their Gin and all keen to tell you the backstory and the blend of botanicals used. There was no hard sell, it’s not what this was about, its about appreciating the perfect serve and then buying. The stories were fascinating and the long nights and days that have been invested in every Gin will always leave us in awe.

We all have a backstory and its easy to get lost in Social Media images and hash tags, followers and likes.

These events are about the human side of Gin producing, the individuals, the teams and the family businesses who have everyone with a part to play to support the expansion of the Brand. I heard so many backstories all different and all enough to make you think and ponder but most of all appreciate.

If you’ve been to a show and tried a load of Gins but only been able to pick up one or two, don’t forget the others you liked, make a note and as Mothers Day, Fathers Day and birthdays arrive, look online and order one you liked before you pick up a supermarket mainstream brand. If you know someone that’s been to a show, ask for a recommendation. Planning a wedding, Gin favours are a thing.

Remember the backstories, remember who you met and what it was about the Gin you loved..and get to as many Gin shows as you can

We all have a backstory..

The Gin Den

The long overdue kickstarter for the blog…for a reason bigger than the love of Gin

As The Gin Den grows, juggling a more than fulltime job with family life and the love of Gin is for all of us a challenge…sadly the blog takes a back seat in favour of the simplicity and speed of a quick post / review on Instagram and a click to share on Facebook.

All that’s okay in a world where we want visuals in our Social Media life, with a rare amount of time for stories that take more than a few minutes to read in between tube stops, busstops etc and the five minute slots in the day when we want to escape from the laptop, studying or the smallest member of the family!

But, and there is a but..every gin/gin experience has a story, the secret is to keep it short (I’ll admit I’m known for being short, olite but to the point😁).

So, on to the point..what was the trigger for the Lazarus moment?

Around a month ago my brother sent me snapshot of an article about a fundraising Gin that was being distilled by one of the main Gin distillers…the story was enough for me to find the website and the buy now button quicker than a post on Instagram 😁

The bottle arrived this week, and a quick neat taste (it’s the immediate quick test before you see a Gin on The Gin Den) and we were sold..the story is below..not only a stunning bottle but something every Gin drinker should want to get involved in👌🏻

My Name’5 Doddie Foundation partnered with 45 West Distillers to create an all new Burleighs Gin crafted alongside Scottish rugby legend, Doddie Weir. All profits will go directly to the Foundation, helping to fund vital research into the causes and potential cures of Motor Neurone Disease. The exclusive Doddie’5 Gin recipe was developed by Burleighs Gin Head Distiller, Ed Gibson and Doddie Weir at the 45 West Distillery. They combined the unique Burleigh Signature recipe with specially selected botanicals that pay homage to Doddie’s roots in the Scottish Borders. They are calling on rugby and gin fans to help tackle MND and be part of the cure by ordering the special edition bottle online from BurleighsGin.com. Their drive with this partnership is to raise crucial funds and awareness for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. With the profit from each bottle sale going directly to the Foundation, they are committed to achieving a goal of raising £1,000,000 (one million pounds). .
Doddie said “We are delighted to be involved with Burleighs and very much appreciate their fantastic support through Doddie’5 gin. We had a great time creating the gin with Ed and the team at 45 West Distillers and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do! I was keen to introduce a hint of the Borders into the flavor and we are thrilled with the result.” .
It is hoped that the funds raised from the sales of Doddie’5 Gin will assist the Foundation in achieving its aims:
To aid research into the causes of Motor Neurone Disease and investigate potential cures
To make grants to individuals suffering from MND, to enable them to live as fulfilled a life as possible


The Gin Den

A rare trip to a quiet place..

A rare trip to The Members Room of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society on Queens Street in Edinburgh, with stunning views over north Edinburgh and the Forth Estuary.

The service, food, whisky or Gin here is always fantastic, it’s a quiet bolthole most weekdays in the City Centre of Edinburgh..watch this space in 2019 as The Gin Den will be joined by a sister Social Media Stream..

For now, this is the very rare second Gin release from the Society and as the first one was, it’s just a little bit special..more in the coming weeks..

The Gin Den

Giving Something Back..

A Gin at The Gin Den that’s giving something back which we love and it’s one well worth buying.Nestled beneath the sprawling mass of Ben Wyvis mountain in the Scottish Highlands, GlenWyvis Distillery was established in 2015. The idea was to unite the community of Dingwall through the creation of a distillery owned in-part by local people.Dingwall’s last whisky distillery closed in 1926. After a 90 year absence, GlenWyvis revived the town’s lost distilling tradition, and made its own history in 2016 by running a record-breaking open share offer. More than 3,000 like-minded people invested in GlenWyvis to create the first ever 100% community-owned distillery. It was an incredible response to an extraordinary idea.GlenWyvis is pioneer of sustainable distilling; wind, hydro, solar and biomass energy power.

John McKenzie the founder said..Thousands of people have come together to create GlenWyvis. Together, we are all part of one community. If we can create something that inspires even the smallest of like-minded actions, where people unite behind a common cause so they too can achieve their dreams and build a more sustainable world, then we will have realised ours — a local spirit that inspires the world.

The GlenWyvis GoodWill Gin was launched in 2018, created using a selection of nine botanicals, with particular attention paid to the locally sourced hawthorn berries. The botanicals are soaked in neutral spirit for 24 hours before being distilled, resulting in an expression that balances delicate fruit with classic robust juniper.

On the Rocks – Cooling over ice encourages the refreshing nature of GoodWill’s zesty fruit character.

With Tonic – Serve with any fine Tonic and simply let GoodWill Gin do its own thing.

Perfect Serve:
25cl of Good Will Gin
25cl of Tonic
Several cubes of ice
Garnish with: Toasted Orange Peel to encourage the citrus botanicals and also Bruised Coriander to bring out the spice side.

The Gin Den

Welcoming Forest Gin to The Gin Den

Welcome to The Gin Den..Forest Gin.. The only Gin to have ever been awarded two separate Double-Gold Medals at the San Francisco World Spirit Awards with a greaabout the Gin and the Bottle..

http://www.forrestgin.com

Forest Gin produce exceptional spirits which are distilled in small batches at their distillery in the glorious Macclesfield Forest. They are a truly family company. Lindsay & Karl Bond are the husband & wife team in charge of the still, bottling, management, sales & shipping.

Harriet Bond (aged 10) is the BOSS. She leads all foraging missions, and is an expert in knowing the best spots for juicy bilberries & ripe raspberries. Hattie would actually prefer it if you did not buy their Gin, as any left over berries end up in her porridge every morning.Their goal is to make the best tasting Gin that they possibly can, from the finest locally sourced ingredients where possible. They do as much as possible by hand – right down to the bottling.Forest Gin is distilled by the family in batches of a maximum of 85 bottles at a time

In a desire to try to source their ingredients and materials from within the local area, the natural vessel to hold the Gin is Staffordshire Porcelain.

Since 1810, Wade Ceramics have been crafting the highest quality ceramic products, with their items being renowned and collected all over the world. They make the bespoke bottles for Forest using many traditional methods, and the final bottle is fully vitrified, meaning they are fired to a temperature which ensures the porcelain will not absorb any moisture, flavour, odour or stains.The Forest Gin Artwork is a one of a kind commission by the respected Papercut artist Suzy Taylor…
Suzy hand cuts all of her artwork from a single piece of paper using a scalpel and a magnifying glass in a painstaking process.The team at Wade then apply the artwork by hand to each bottle.

The Gin Den

Discretionary Effort

Saturday afternoon in the centre of Chester and it’s races day so busier than usual and a great opportunity for the Bars and Restaurants to capitalise on the extra trade.Its not the easiest of times on the high street and it’s therefore key that everyone is geared up ready to ideally exceed customers expectations.

With the lunch venue chosen I thought I’d start with a G&T at the bar, The Gin selection looked reasonable, and Didsbury Gin was the selection, having heard a little about it.

And this is where it’s key that you get it right…The botanicals for garnish were well presented on the bar, there was a reasonable choice of tonic..yet when the Gin arrived…the garnish was missing.When questioned, The barman quickly added it and it looked like this….at that point the decision was made not to return to said bar for a drink, but to provide the benefit of the doubt, food was needed so upstairs to the restaurant we went.

At another table in the restaurant a G&T arrived and it looked a bit different, I caught the attention of one of the team, and showed them my rather sad G&T….apology offered, it was taken away and returned looking a little different..

The point is, I didn’t want a complicated cocktail, that’s not what The Gin Den is about, I wanted a simple G&T that takes a couple of minutes to make, and yes the effort isn’t just about presentation, it’s important to the taste..

The distillers takes time creating their G&T, and designing the bottle to make it stand out from the crowd, The bar had made an effort to show the garnishes…add in the human factor and it all goes wrong..at best you wouldn’t come back to the bar at worst you’d think as a first time Gin drinker that was what a G&T was and revert to red wine or your tipple of choice.

These times are not the times for struggling with the basics of preparing a G&T, bar and restaurant teams need to be in the game…or the trade goes elsewhere…It’s not rocket science, it’s a G&T…and a little bit of discretionary effort can ensure it’s served as one.

The Gin Den