Last weekend, I got invited to Ipswich Gin Festival. I was so excited to be offered this opportunity as it’s not something I would usually go out my way to attend, so it was great to be able to experience and see what the fuss is about! I brought my dad along as my plus one as he loves gin even more than me, so he could provide me with his expert opinion haha!
What Is It?
The Gin Festival takes place in various locations across England throughout the year. You can find out if it’s coming to your city soon by following this link to their website. This year in Ipswich, it took place in the Town Hall which is located right in the centre of town, and is a spacious venue with smaller rooms and a main hall.
What to Expect on Arrival
Upon arriving, we got in really quick and there weren’t any queues. We did arrive around 2pm, and the day kicked off at 12:30pm, so we probably skipped any possible queues! We were handed a glass each, along with a booklet each that described each gin on offer so we could look into what we wanted when we went in. We were allowed to keep the glass when we left, and this is what we used throughout the day to receive our drinks in. I also received a special blogger bag and a lanyard, and received a drinks token, which could be purchased for £5 per token/£20 for a token like the one I received which entitled me to four drinks. This meant each drink cost £5 each.
The drinks tokens had the numbers 1-4 on them, and after each drink was received, a number would be crossed off. Then when they were all crossed off it was thrown away (which is sad because I kinda wanted to keep mine as one of the servers drew a stick woman across numbers one and two to cross them off haha). Having drinks tokens helped speed up service a lot and I never had to queue too long to be served as they didn’t have to take cash and count out change etc.
After receiving our glasses and tokens, we walked in to the first room which featured lots of free samples to get you started. Free samples came from Tinker and Old Black Tomato, amongst other brands. Here, I found out neat gin isn’t all that bad but I’m definitely a G+T kinda girl! The festival is sponsored by Fever Tree who supplied a wide variety of high quality tonics to compliment a range of different gins, and this definitely made all the difference compared to the standard Britvic tonic.
After sampling a couple of gins, we then walked into the main hall. This was a huge space and was pretty busy, but it wasn’t so busy that it was difficult to walk around which always improves the experience at events like this. In the centre of the hall were the main bars where the gins were dispensed. This was split into four bars, lettered A to D. The booklet we got given at the start was also split into the same categories which made locating gins and finding information on them a lot easier.
Around these bars were smaller stalls where there were more free samples on offer, as well as a gin cocktail stall. There were also a couple food stalls, including a small snack stall selling popcorn and olives, and included ‘All Wrapped Up’, which, you guessed it, sold wraps. Here they had vegetarian options too! There was also a stall selling gin based toiletires and homewares, and plenty of seats placed around the venue.
Above all of this was a balcony for guests to sit and sip on their drinks, and in another room on the next floor was a masterclass, talking about all things gin related!
Now for the best bit, the gins! As I had a token for four drinks, me and my dad had two each and tried each others too. I went for the Friday Chic and the 5th Fire, whilst my dad went for the Tinker which we sampled earlier on, as well as the Siderit Ginger Lime. Each gin came with it’s own fruit garnish, and a recommended tonic to compliment it. I’d consider myself quite a newbie when it comes to Gin and Tonic, and I never knew there were so many varieties of tonics, but I am completely converted to Fever Tree now as they really change how the drink tastes overall.
Friday Chic was one of my favourites, which is infused with mango, passionfruit and papaya, giving a more tropical flavour to it. It is also distilled with juniper, cardamon, orange blossom and vine leaf. The meditaranean tonic complimented this really well, alongside the grapes used to garnish. I am a sucker for tropical flavours and this hit the spot really well.
5th fire was more of a berry based drink, using blackberries, blueberries, currants and strawberries. Paired with the Fever Tree Lemon tonic, it provided a really refreshing, summery flavour. I’d love to see this in more pubs as it was beautiful!
Whilst the above were great, my true favourite was actually the Picnic Gin from Poetic License, which I only managed to grab a free sample of but it provided a beautiful flavour of strawberries and cream, and was so unique to anything I’ve ever tasted before. I am actually debating buying it for myself as it was just that nice.
I had an amazing time at the festival, and really enjoyed discovering new gins I’d never even heard of. I never knew gin could taste so nice, especially as I was always apprehensive about tonic with my gin, but the fever tree tonics were really enjoyable compared to other tonics I’ve tried in the past which put me off drinking gin in the past.
Tickets to the event range from £9.50 for early bird tickets, to £18 for tickets purchased later on, and drinks are £5 each for a single measure, so it can be an expensive day. I noticed many of the guests were roughly around the ages of 30-40 years old, which is reflected in the price. I can’t see many younger people having the disposable income to spend on the day, but if you do have the money spare and love gin, I do recommend giving the festival a visit! £18 does seem a bit steep for entry as it doesn’t actually get you any drinks other than the free samples, but I can also understand that this pays for the masterclass, the venue, and even the glass you receive. However, £9.50 early bird tickets are much more reasonable at almost half the price, so I really recommend getting in there early to save yourself some money!
I highly recommend the Poetic License Picnic Gin for those with a sweet tooth like me, whilst the Siderit Ginger Lime is great for those who like something a little less sweet, and if you really like something savoury, the Black Tomato Gin is a must try which delivered really unique flavours.
Until next time, here’s some more pictures from the day. Remember to follow me on twitter and at my socials in the side bar, and talk to me in the comments, what’s your favourite gin?