After a long day at work, nothing beats unwinding with a refreshing gin & tonic. First concocted in the 1700s by the army of the British East India Company in India as a means to prevent malaria, gin & tonic has since evolved to be a popular cocktail around the world. With distilleries in different parts of the globe coming up with a new gin seemingly every other month, the possibilities for inventive flavours are endless.
While safe distancing measures are still in place – in varying degrees – across the network, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good G&T in the comfort of your own home. During lockdown, many bars and distilleries pivoted to offering cocktail deliveries and virtual tasting sessions, which offered a respite for those cooped up at home.
Read on to find out which distilleries are offering virtual gin tasting sessions in your neck of the woods.
1. Manchester Gin, Manchester
Founded by a couple, Seb Heeley and Jen Wiggins, who bonded over their mutual love for gin, this distillery was birthed in their dining room where they started with distilling just 60 litres of gin at a time. They went on to make and sell 25,000 bottles from home, eventually clinching Gold at the Spirit Masters for micro-distillery. Today, the Spirit of Manchester Distillery, set in six Grade-II* listed arches in the heart of Manchester’s city centre, is a full-fledged distillery capable of producing a million bottles annually, but the pair continue to pour their passion for craft gin into each bottle.
Tasting notes: The virtual tasting includes four 50ml bottles of Manchester Gins (Signature, Raspberry Infused, Blackberry Infused, Wild Spirit), four 200ml bottles of premium tonics and two Manchester Gin glasses. The session is delivered by Seb and Jen in a pre-recorded video and delves into the brand story and history of Manchester Gin as well as a deep dive into each gin and its unique properties. Live sessions for private groups of 10 or more people are also available upon request. Private sessions are delivered by Manchester Gin’s distillers and include an in-depth tasting of each gin, the botanicals that make it unique, and what makes a perfect tonic pairing.
Price: Starts from £40.00
2. Brass Lion Distillery, Singapore
This homegrown distillery is the brainchild of F&B entrepreneur Jamie Koh, who was determined to create a gin crafted in Singapore that best encapsulates the spirit of the Little Red Dot. The two-year-old distillery sits within a charming two-storey space in Alexandra Terrace where imbibers can sample the different gins alongside some light bites or sign up for an in-depth gin masterclass. If you prefer, you can also sign up for a tasting session to be conducted online.
Tasting notes: Led by Brass Lion Brand Ambassador Kino, these virtual sessions are currently conducted only on request. As such, the contents of the kit will be dependent on customers’ requests, but a basic kit usually includes three 50ml bottles of Brass Lion gin, one bottle of tonic and one measuring shot glass for tasting and measuring. The session starts with an introduction to the distillery and brand, followed by an introduction to the three signature gins and how best to nose and taste the gins. Kino will also guide the participants on how to stir/lift the ice so that the fizziness of the drink is kept.
Price: Available upon request
3. Beinn an Tuirc Distillery, Scotland
While Scotland is perhaps better known for their whiskeys, this gin distillery that was founded in 2016 has made a name for itself for its efforts in sustainability. The estate is powered by its own hydroelectricity while water is sourced from the “Beinn an Tuirc’” which translates from Gaelic as ‘The Hill of the Wild Boar’ and is the highest point in Kintyre, located above the distillery building. It first started conducting virtual tasting sessions for private clients who could not get to Kintyre but has since started offering online experiences to more people during this pandemic period.
Tasting notes: Participants will be guided through a tasting of Kintyre Botanical Gin, Kintyre Pink Gin and Tarbert Legbiter Navy Strength Gin. Each tasting pack includes a recommended tonic for each gin as well as suggestions for mixers and garnishes. These tastings are normally limited to 15 spaces, so it can be as interactive and informal as possible. While guests enjoy their G&T, the host will share more about Beinn an Tuirc Distillery, their unique location at Torrisdale Castle Estate as well as the history of the family, which goes back five generations.
Price: Tastings can be tailored to particular needs but are usually £25 to £30 per person.
4. Archie Rose, Sydney
Founded in 2014 and located in Rosebery – just a few kilometres south of downtown Sydney – this award-winning distillery produces a wide range of whiskies, vodkas, rums and of course, gins. They have recently put together a comprehensive selection of virtual cocktail masterclasses, which can even be conducted for people living outside of Australia. Check out their events packages here or contact email@example.com for more information.
Tasting notes: One of their signature workshops is the virtual “Blend Your Own Gin” experience. This interactive workshop takes you through the art and history behind gin and how Archie Rose makes theirs, before you get to blend a selection of pure botanical distillates to create your own signature gin. The Archie Rose experts will also guide you through the Art of the Martini to enjoy your very own gin creation. This package comes with a 200ml bottle of Signature Dry Gin, eight types of botanical distillates such as rivermint and lemon myrtle, one bottle of tonic, one 50ml Maidenii dry vermouth, one Graduated Copper Bell Jigger and eight pipettes.
Price: Starts from A$150
5. Tiny Bear, Victoria
Located about a 40-minute drive from Melbourne, this boutique distillery was founded in 2017 by Damien Anderson, a former high school Chemistry teacher. Combining his love for science with his passion for craft gins, he set out to create top-quality spirits using only the best raw ingredients.
Tasting notes: To cater to customers who are unable to travel due to lockdown measures, Anderson has created pre-recorded tasting sessions that are open to anyone living in Australia. Each pack contains a sample of their signature gins (with intriguing names such as Doctor or Gypsy), two Strange Love tonics, dehydrated garnishes as well as a postcard suggesting the order in which you move through and enjoy the five cocktails. Because the tasting workshop is pre-recorded, you can enjoy it at any time of the day and hit “pause” whenever you want.
Price: A$60 per pack.
6. Warner’s Distillery, Northamptonshire
Sprawled across a large family farm in the idyllic East Midlands of England that’s two hours away from London, this distillery, which started in 2012, is the maker behind the award-winning Harrington Dry Gin. It has also come up with a slew of creative flavours such as rhubarb and pink berry. While it used to offer tours for guests to explore its five-acre farm, the Covid-19 pandemic has ground those tours to a halt. However, residents of the UK can still enjoy a G&T with Warners’ live virtual gin tasting and farm and distillery tours.
Tasting notes: Led by founders Tom and Tina Warner as well as an expert team made up of distillers, horticulturists and mixologists, each 1.5-hour session takes you on a journey through five farm-grown gins and takes place in the relevant area of the farm. For example, as you taste the Lemon Balm Gin, the session will be hosted in the middle of their lush botanical garden or as you sip on the Honeybee gin, the session will be hosted on the part of the farm where they do live beekeeping.
Price: £40 per person but each package is sufficient for two drinkers
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