Confession…I don’t really like gin but when an invite to a gin tasting appeared in my inbox, I thought let’s do this.
The tasting was organised by the team at Tomoka Spirits Boutique. If you haven’t heard of them they specialise in fine spirits and champagne, which they sell from their St Albans shop in Christopher’s Place (opposite Wagamamas) and they also have a second shop on Leyton Road in Harpenden. Each time I’ve visited the St Albans shop I’ve received great service, helping me to choose a birthday present bottle that didn’t blow the budget – although if you’ve got the budget then there are plenty of top-end tipples to spend it on.
And as well as offering their expert advice and well stocked shops; they also regularly run tasting events – gin, whiskey, champagnes and bespoke private group tastings. If you sign up to their website mailing list or on Facebook then you’ll get to hear about any upcoming events.
Back to the gin tasting…
Myself and three other Women Alouders (and about 16 other unknown folks) took ourselves along to Mokoko at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon and proceeded to work our way through 5 generous sized gin samples – we were also given some tonic if we wanted to mix but the first bit of tasting was to try the gins neat.
The gins served up are award-winning craft gins made by the Warner Edwards distillery, who use natural spring water and home-grown ingredients from their Northamptonshire farm. They produce in small batches, and handcraft start to finish every single bottle.
We began the tasting with the Warner Edwards Harrington Dry Gin, which is the first gin they started making. It’s sophisticated, smooth, well-rounded – and has won awards around the world. As someone who hasn’t really partaken in much gin-drinking, especially not straight gin, I did have concerns taking that first taste. I won’t lie, it did nearly take my head off. But on the second sip I got in to it.
We moved on to try three of their speciality Gins – the Melissa, Elderflower, and Rhubarb. The ‘Melissa’ – the first creation from their botanical garden range – brings you an explosion of lemon and mint flavours (as well as a packet of seeds so you can grow your own garnish). The ‘Elderflower’ is made using hand-picked elderflowers which are harvested just once a year and go from field to bottle in the space of a few hours – giving this gin a unique fresh and fragrant flavour. Then we have the quintessentially British ‘Rhubarb’ which is made using rhubarb that originates from the Buckingham Palace gardens – mixed with their dry gin it is rosy in colour and has a sweet fruity flavour.
My favourite of the five was the Warner Edwards Sloe Gin – slightly naughty I know as it’s the one that tastes least like gin but, come on, I have only just dipped my toe in the gin-filled water. Made using sloe berries handpicked from local hedgerows, this is more of a deliciously decadent liquer that can be enjoyed on its own or I’m told it goes very well mixed with Prosecco. One to try on Christmas Day me thinks.
So, that’s the gins. The combined consensus of the four of us was we liked them all, but the Melissa was more of an acquired taste which made it our least liked.
The Tomoka guys running the tasting were informative and knowledgeable; guiding us through each gin in turn but also giving us time to taste and discuss amongst ourselves. The tasting lasted just over an hour, maybe closer to 90minutes. I’m not entirely sure as the gin had kicked in by then but I know we were the last to leave having finished all our gin (and tonic for good measure!)
Taste, buy, get your 10% discount
I’d definitely go to another of their tasting events and if there’s enough interest we could organise a private Women Aloud one – champers perhaps? I’m told there might be an opportunity to taste some Port in the Harpenden shop next month so I’ll be watching out for that too.
If you’re looking to buy someone a special bottle of booze this Christmas, go and have a word with the Tomoka team. Visit the Tomoka Spirits website or the Facebook page to keep up-to-date with all their latest products and events. For those of you who are real GIN LOVERS, you might want to also check out their new dedicated gin website, Craft Gins. It features over 30 independent gin distilleries and more than 70 craft gins (plus some leading artisan tonics). To celebrate the launch they are offering a 10% discount until 1st December – use the coupon code GINS10% when you checkout.
[FYI. We moved on from the tasting to Dylans for some red wine. Probably not the behaviour of true gin connoisseurs but given how busy it was in there, Sunday afternoon drinking is obviously the done thing!]