Junipalooza Musings – a day of blending in with hope and Miss Muffet

Gin has always been a great motivator and the prospect of heading east of the capital for a day of gin tastings prompted an early start on the drizzly, sleepy Sunday morning. Our plan to grab breakfast en-route to bolster us was our first challenge as we struggled to find an eatery amidst the housing blocks, abandoned corner boozers and grand disused buildings that would have once heaved with workers from the area’s industrial past; less than one-mile from the Beefeaters at the Tower of London.

Tobacco Dock, a grade 1 listed warehouse for imported tobacco, built in 1811 and the site of this year’s Junipalooza – Celebration of Gin – stood proud and strong; its cavernous vaults brimming with just over 40 ginsmiths from across the globe. Thoughts wandered to imagine the scenes of workers heading home via the Victorian gin palaces after a long, hard shift at the dock. With two food and gin pairing events coming up, we were on the hunt for some bold, unusual, savoury flavours, emerging gin trends and genuine stories of the makers’ gin journeys to share with our guests.

Dorset distilled Pothecary Gin www.pothecarygin.co.uk stood out. Floral and bold, it is described as ‘British blended’ and is distilled using fractional distillation – a method which distils each botanical element separately before blending them to the closely coveted recipe. Inspired by Nginious Swiss blended gin, which stood across the room, could this method be emerging as a popular style to extract a more intense botanical hit? Pothecary’s use of wild foraged Anatolian mulberries, Provencal lavender and Tilia flowers created a honey-rich haven as the rain continued to fall outside.

Best served “dirty” with a green olive and a dash of brine, the Mediterranean Gin from Cape Town distillery Hope on Hopkins www.hopeonhopkins.co.za satisfies a more savoury palette. Created by two former London-based lawyers keen to get off the city treadmill and spend more time together, they returned to their homeland and realised their dream to open a distillery. The triple distilled grape spirit gin is infused with olives, rosemary, basil, thyme and cardamom and makes this a fine aperitif to serve with Mediterranean nibbles.

The legendary cow, Big Bertha, is the muse for the Irish small batch milk gin Bertha’s Revenge from Ballyvolane Spirits www.ballyvolanespirits.ie in Co. Cork. Special yeasts are added to the whey to convert the milk sugars into alcohol. 18 different botanicals are then distilled with the whey spirit to produce this peppery yet creamy gin. Could this grain-free spirit claim to be gluten free? Food for thought for free-from spirits.

Northward bound – inspired, motivated, easy like Sunday morning.