As a relatively new (though no less enthusiastic) gin drinker, I was very excited to visit the Gin Festival at STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway, in Swindon. It was the perfect opportunity to spend an evening out with my Mum, who is equally into gin, though has been drinking the good stuff for longer than I have. I went in hopes of lots of new gins to try, while learning a little along the way, and I wasn’t disappointed. The event was well organised, and having each collected our gin glass and a programme of the event (included in the ticket price) we headed straight for the gin!
There were 5 labelled gin bars, each with its own range of gins to try. The handy list in the Gin Festival programme for each bar helped us navigate the gins, their flavours, and how they’re best enjoyed. Each gin was served with the recommended garnish and a choice of tonics. The bars were well run, with an easy token system to claim drinks at a standard price of £5 for a gin and tonic, and a friendly team of staff on hand to serve the gin just how you like it! While each bar had a couple of tonic options, there was a separate one with a full range of tonics, soda and even lemonade to suit sweeter tastes, all free to add to the gins. As I normally drink gin with soda, this was definitely a bonus for me!
There were also a few masterclasses at Gin Festival, including cocktails and talks from small gin distilleries. As Ramsbury gin is fairly local, we decided that this was the masterclass for us. The talk was really interesting, covering how the estate functions from the distillery to a background in beer making, and how they are using the waste on the farm. It was great to hear how everything came together to make a delicious end product (confirmed with a taster halfway through the talk). We also learnt that the best way to use ice in gin is in as large a piece as possible, for maximum cooling, and minimum melting. It sounded good to us! (Note to self – google giant ice cube trays…)
We also sampled a few free tasters (it would have been rude not to!) and found out a bit more about these gins from staff at the dedicated stands. We tried them first without tonic, then with a small amount of tonic, to see how the flavour changes and is enhanced by adding the tonic. It was really interesting, and I will definitely think twice in future before adding too much mixer straight into my gin!
It was also great to be able to try the gins in a relaxed environment, without the pressure to purchase. They were available to buy in the gin shop, but this was in a separate area on the way in and out of the Gin Festival, so it didn’t interrupt enjoyment of the tasting and the event flowed really well. There was also a photo booth for making some fun memories of the evening, but as our photo was less than flattering, I’ve decided to stick to our selfie instead!
All in all, this was a great evening out, at a very well organised event. We were able to easily find our way around, and had a great time trying the gins and comparing notes on our favourites! I’d thoroughly recommend going to a Gin Festival near you, whether you’re newer to gin or are more experienced, as with 6 bars full of gins, plus cocktails, there is definitely something for everyone. And as we didn’t even come close to trying them all, I would definitely consider going again!
Cost – £11 per ticket (includes a gin glass to use at the Gin Festival & take home)
Drinks – £5 for a gin & tonic, £10 per cocktail. Drinks are exchanged for tokens purchased at the event.
Visit a Gin Festival – book your tickets here!
Disclaimer – I was given free entry for myself and a friend in exchange for a review of Swindon Gin Festival. All opinions are my own.
If you like gins, you’ll love the gin bar at Widbrook Grange Hotel in Bradford on Avon! Read my review here…