Gin Laboratory at The Painswick
Not far from where I live is the beautiful village of Painswick. I often drive through it, admiring the gorgeous Cotswold-stone buildings. A couple of weeks ago I visited The Painswick Hotel. I discovered that they were going to be hosting a Gin Laboratory. Combining two of my most favourite things – gin and Science – I was delighted to be invited to review the event.
A Sibling G&T and a History of Gin
The event was being run by local distillers, Sibling. So after we were welcomed by the hotel staff, we were shown through to the lounge to enjoy a Sibling G&T. Here we also met the rest of the party. Gone are the days when gin was drunk by “women of a certain age”. It is definitely a drink now enjoyed by all and this was plain to see from the mix of people attending the event. There was an even mix of men and women, across a range of ages, all with one thing in common – a love of gin!
We were also introduced to two of the siblings of Sibling Gin – Cicely and Clarice. Whilst we continued to sip on our G&Ts we were treated to a history of gin and how Sibling Distillery came to being. All four of the siblings might be no older than 25 years of age, but they really know their gin. It was a pleasure to listen to them and their enthusiasm for their craft was clear. I was really interested to hear how their gin is made completely from scratch. This gives them complete control over their gin. It definitely made me want to visit their distillery over in Cheltenham.
The Gin Laboratory
We then left the lounge and headed upstairs to the Gin Laboratory. It wasn’t hard to find the lab, with the hazard warning signs plastered across the door. The meeting room at the hotel had been transformed. It did look more like a laboratory, except for the table and chairs rather than a bench and stools. Across the table were all manner of glassware and pipettes. Then at each place setting there was a lab coat, gloves and safety goggles.
Of course, we couldn’t just go ahead and make our own gin without considering which botanicals we would want to include. We were given five gin samples to try. These were Sibling (of course!) and four other well-known brands. We blind tasted these, trying to pick out which botanicals we could smell and taste. Once again, Cicely and Clarice were a wealth of information. They explained how the different gins were made and were given their different flavour profiles. More unusual gin ingredients were passed around for us to smell – peppery cubeb berries, grains of paradise and cassia bark. Every grabbed notepads and jotted down what it was we liked about each gin, and what we might like to put in our own.
My Own Gin
We weren’t going to be making our own gin in the same way that Sibling do – this wasn’t an actual distillery after all! We were given a 20cl bottle of our base gin. This was basically vodka with juniper added to it. Then on the table were jars of distillates with various flavours added to them. We were told to go steady, using a pipette to add just a couple of drops to our gin each time.
I enjoyed seeing how everyone had different flavour preferences – and I think this really is why the craft gin industry is booming. Some went for spiced gins, other for fruity, berry-based or citrus-based gins. There were floral and herbal botanicals available. I have always enjoyed my gins garnished with lime and really enjoyed the orange flavours within Sibling, so I used orange, lemon and lime to create a citrusy gin. I then added more spicy botanicals to increase the complexity of my gin.
Once we were happy with our gin, we then had to think of a name. I think this was the hardest part! A hush descended across the table whilst we considered what to name our creations. As mine had so much citrus in it, I needed to think of a name that was something citrusy. And so, Something Citrusy was born!
The final part of the event was the most exciting part – how would our gins taste as part of a G&T? We went back down to the lounge, where one of the expert bar staff used our own gin to serve us our G&Ts. The verdict? I love my very own gin! Out of the many gins that I have tried, this one is very special. However, I don’t think Sibling need to worry about me putting them out of business! I was thenable to enjoy my G&T in the beautiful surroundings of the hotel and its grounds, and then take the rest to enjoy at home.
The Gin Laboratory costs £40 per person. This includes the G&T at the start, your own 20cl bottle of gin, the expertise from Sibling and a couple of hours of really good fun. All-in-all I believe it is great value. We had a great time with the rest of the group. However, it would be a fantastic event with a group of friends too – especially if you could then sample each other’s gins afterwards!
The next Gin Laboratory at The Painswick will be in October. Do check out their website or Facebook page for more news and a date for the event. If you do find yourself in Painswick, do pop in to the hotel where you will receive a warm welcome and can enjoy a drink in some amazing surroundings. The hotel was named ‘Hotel of the Year’ in the Sunday Times Travel 100 Ultimate Hotels 2016, and has been shortlisted in ‘Best European and UK Hotel’ category for 2017.
Disclaimer: I was provided with tickets for the Gin Laboratory in exchange for an honest review of the event. I would thoroughly recommend the Gin Laboratory for anyone who enjoys gin. It would make a great birthday gift for a gin lover or the perfect event to enjoy with friends.