Classic Gins Explorers Collection: A Virtual Tasting Experience – Bite Sized Food Review

This is The Bite Sized Food Review, an honest and unpretentious exploration of some of the most enjoyable and flavoursome foods and delicious drinks available today. From the small batched produced gins of local distilleries to the aperitifs of Italy, The Food and Drink Review will take you on a scrumptious and satisfying tour of tasty eats and flavoursome drinks. This isn’t a challenge to eat the most food, just an appreciative tour of the best foods and drinks available today.

The Craft Gin Club, founded in January 2015 have been one of the highlights of the recent monthly subscription services expansion in the UK, delivering a unique and distinct bottle of gin on a periodic basis to their loyal passionate subscribers. Every delivery includes a 70cl bottle of gin from either a domestic or overseas distillery in addition to an assortment of snacks, tonic waters and accompaniments for the perfect, unique G&T. Every month, a different blend is selected and showcased with accompanying ingredients to make a perfect drink to enjoy in the comfort of your own home. With the restrictions imposed by the recent pandemic, it was a opportune time to take part in one of their virtual gin tasting experiences, a sporadic event that allows gin lovers to come together in a virtual space to enjoy four distinct flavours and combinations whilst learning about their origins from the distilleries themselves. These events allow you to sample different blends and flavours you would otherwise know little about and bring these local distillers into the wider public domain. This months event was focused around Classic Gins, lacking the panache and showmanship of a coloured or themed gin perhaps but certainly not lacking in flavour.

The range of drinks included in this selection pack begun with the Conkers Dorset Dry Gin. A traditional dry blend of herbs and ingredients but paired together with a lemon and elderflower tonic created a really enjoyable drink. Next a Blue Bottle Dry Gin, a slightly spicier variety of a traditional classic gin. Next, a Wessex Gin which in terms of flavour sat between the two and lastly the Boatyard Double Gin, a delectable sweet variation of the classic gin when paired with a really lovely Grapefruit Tonic Water. The evening is showcased as an online presentation hosted by the Craft Gin Club with each drink discussed in detail with the distillers detailing the creation and ingredients of that particular blend. Every featured guest drink has been a Gin Of The Month before but as relatively new entrants to this fascinating subscription model, for us it was an experience to discover them for the first time. Having visited the Edinburgh Gin Company last year when on holiday in Scotland, we had some awareness of what to expect as each distillery goes into detail about the different ingredients featured in the process of creating the Gin. It is amazing to discover though how so many plants and roots taken for granted in your day to day lives can have such bold flavours creating these blends. Whilst it may be a ‘classical’ set, each drink had a distinct flavour that made for a memorable evening.

I have a particular predication towards more citrus flavours and combinations so the stand out drinks of the night came from Conker Spirt Distillery with their Dry Blend that had a lovely sweet flavour to it. With ingredients collected from the idyllic Dorset coast including the bright vibrant gorse flowers, it was just a really enjoyable drink paired with a great choice of tonic water. My main issue with Gin over the last year has been that bitter almost medicinal undertone on your palate that you come to accept but isn’t that nice especially in stronger classical blends. This is one of few blends I’ve enjoyed where it wasn’t as strong or noticeable with a sweeter note instead. With a straight traditional Tonic water it may be a different experience but I would certainly recommend this Gin with a citrus blend tonic that create a really refreshing and enjoyable G&T. My second favourite drink of the night was the delightful Double Gin from the Boatyard Distillery in North West Ireland. It tasted a little less sweeter when enjoyed neat but paired with a really lovely Grapefruit Tonic water this was one of the best G&Ts I’ve had in a while. It didn’t have that strong, medicinal taste at all and you could easily enjoy this on a warm summers evening with friends or on your own. It was described in detail by the team from the distillery and made for a lovely end to the evening and a great way to bring the Classic Collection to an end with these two great cocktails bookend the evening.

I enjoyed sampling the Blue Bottle Dry Gin but it had quite a strong, spicy finish to this particular drink that contrasted to the more easily consumable first variety we had tried. It was nice to try them straight and with the addition of the tonic and accompanying ingredients. This particular variety did leave a warm feeling on your throat with a strong flavour from the ingredients. It was enjoyable to try once. The Wessex Gin was from a familial distillery with a lovely brother and sister presenting this particular variation. It probably tasted the most like a traditional, classical gin with a clear knowledge in the process learned from the greats of distillation. It was lovely to try and fell somewhere between the spicier, strong flavours of the Blue Bottle Dry Gin and the more citrus, lighter tasting Dry Blend. All four gins were a delight to try and the evening was certainly informative learning about the various ingredients and extracts that go into the distillation process in producing these varieties of essentially the same variety of drink. If I had to pick a favourite, it would have to go to the team at Conker Spirit Distillery in Dorset who have created an incredible drink, one certainly I can recommend with gusto. As an experience, for gin enthusiasts or couples looking for a little escapism it made for a really great evenings entertainment. Tip of the evening came courtesy of the first distillery, dropping a small ice cube into a neat blend to get a slightly diluted taste that brings the flavours to life.

I was suffering from the effects of Covid in March when we first tried this event, I had the faintest hint of flavour on my palate but in truth my sense of taste and smell were almost entirely diminished and it made for a bittersweet night as my partner enjoyed the experience but not as we had planned. On this particular occasion we set time aside to enjoy the experience to its full and came away discovering a new bottle we’d both like to pick up down the road. The hosts were lovely, the Craft Gin Club is their brand and livelihood and you can see a real passion and enthusiasm in showcasing and bringing these smaller brands to the public domain. It’s also nice to see the distilleries aren’t forgotten after their appearance as the guest Gin Of The Month and obviously you can sense the good relationship between the company and the distilleries in inviting them to partake in events such as these. There was a real warmth and passion in being able to explain if only to a virtual audience what went into bringing these drinks to our tables around the country. We currently subscribe to receive a new flavour every other month and we’ve discovered some amazing blends including this new Dry Blend from the Classical Gins event. With a virtual Summer Cocktail Party on the horizon on the 12th June, who knows what delicious Gins we’ll discover next. As with anything, to be enjoyed in moderation, equally, if you do indulge in a bottle of gin, make it a great one and you are certainly spoiled for choice here.

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