Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Gin Club Birmingham – Langtons Gin Tasting Evening at Loki Wine 21st January 2015

We were very excited to hear of the launch of Gin Club Birmingham, and the announcement of their inaugural event, featuring a presentation and tastings of products from Langtons Gin, based in the Lake District.  Link to Web Site
The event sold out, so we were pleased to have booked tickets in advance.

The event was held upstairs in Loki Wine, in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade, and there were about thirty people in attendance.  The venue was divided into two smaller rooms, with about half the attendees seated in each.  This necessitated two separate presentations; one to each group.  This wasn’t too much of a problem as everyone seemed to share our excitement at the launch of a new venture, and hosting it in a wine shop helped things along nicely.

Gin Club Birmingham was formed in late 2014, and the evening was hosted by one of its founder members, Tom Hayes.  Tom was a good host, who took the time to talk to all of the attendees, some of whom he knew already but others, like us, who he was meeting for the first time.

Prior the start of the presentations, glasses of gin and bottles of tonic water were handed round, and as we were in the second group, we had to wait for the first presentation to end before trying it.  However, we passed the time quite pleasantly by enjoying a sample of a rather fine Lebanese Rose wine.

The presentation was delivered by Craig Macdonald, UK Brand Ambassador for Langtons Gin, who talked about the history and philosophy of Langtons, as well as the unique selling points of its products.

Langtons is the oldest of three gin distilleries in Cumbria, and their aim is to create a Lakeland style of gin, distinct from the more widely known London dry gins.  To achieve this, they take the water for their flagship ‘No1’ Gin from a source beneath the mighty Skiddaw, one of the largest mountains in the Lake District.  Craig explained that the purity of this water has a positive effect on the gin, and at 60 per cent of its make-up, is an important component.  The Langtons recipe for the botanicals includes juniper berries from both Cumbria and Tuscany, with a lower overall quantity used than in London gins, allowing the other ingredients such as cinnamon, coriander seeds and seasoned oak bark, to shine through.

Gin Number 1:  Langtons No1 
We tasted the No1 gin in its neat form first.  As Craig had said, there was less of a hit of juniper than in other gins, and although it still packed a punch, it also included a sweet, spicy aftertaste.  We then enjoyed it with Fever Tree tonic, the best on the market in my view, with ice and a slice of lemon.

Gin Number 2:  Damson
The second sample was of Langtons Damson Gin.  This was produced in a limited quantity, and was originally intended to be used as an ingredient for the sauce in a rippled ice cream (now how great would that have been?) as well as a drink, but due to the amount produced, it was decided to proceed with the drink only.  This was again served in its neat form and with a tonic.  Its taste was more fruity than sweet, and at 28 per cent had a much lower alcohol content than the No1 Gin.  It went extremely well with the elderflower tonic with which it was served, and we made a note of this for future purchases.  Assuming that they make some more, of course.

By this point, conversation had started to flow with the drinks and there was a lively yet friendly atmosphere.  The final drink of the evening was a cocktail called a ‘Bees Knees’.  I should apologise at this point for not including a photo of it.  We finished drinking it before we realised that we should have photographed it first.  It was served in a cocktail glass and was yellow coloured and cloudy, and very good.  For anyone interested, the recipe is;

Bees Knees Cocktail
50 per cent Langtons No1 gin
25 per cent honey syrup
25 per cent lemon juice
-Combine all the above ingredients with some crushed ice in a cocktail shaker, shake, strain and serve in a cocktail glass.

Easy to make; ingredients readily accessible; What’s not to love?  The recipe is based on a ‘Gin Sour’ cocktail, which includes egg whites and angostura bitters.  We’ll certainly be making it again.

At the end of the evening there was a chance to purchase bottles of the gin that we had been sampling and both types looked to be selling well.  We bought a bottle of the No1 Gin which of course we enjoyed a glass from when we got home.

We enjoyed the first Gin Club Birmingham event very much and are looking forward to news of the next one.

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