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Locating the entrance proved somewhat problematic. We had the address and where in the right road – just a few minutes walk up from Blackfriars – but perhaps looking for a large sign or a window fronted bar was our downfall. The Gin Experience and its accompanying bar is through a non-descript door and down some stairs. We got there in the end…

The Gin Experience is run by the City of London Distillery (COLD for short). You can buy the gin they distil there (you can see the actual distilling equipment from the bar area) from Waitrose and plenty of other places. Its rather nice as it happens. In the bar they serve it with a huge wedge of grapefruit.

Your Gin experience is mostly taken up with making your own gin. You have a good couple of hours to sniff and taste the botanticals, mix and match to your hearts content in fact. There is a large range to play with – bitter and sweet orange, elderflower, cassia bark, rose petals and many more I can’t recall. I did wonder if you could use chocolate or rather the coco bean and perhaps vanilla too but they weren’t on the tray… I should try taking my own if I go again…

From a base of Juniper and Coriander you take a pinch of this or that and mix them as in a laboratory. I wasn’t convinced that what you smell once mixed would actually be replicated in the final bottle… Spittoon’s Gin Thing ended up with a pinch of Angelica root, Yarrow, Cassia Bark, Cinnamon Bark, Elderberries, Rose Hips, and Yarrow. All in quite small quantities. The aroma was rather good but I felt it was lacking some top notes. It seemed too ‘manly’ if that is a way to describe a gins aroma. This was even more apparent when compared to Rosana’s mix – hers had more juniper and more floral elements in larger quantities than mine, with the rose particularly noticeable.

Photo Gallery: Gin Lab Experience at COLD

So I took a pinch of elderflower and a thumb nail size piece of sweet orange peel and added that. With 12 ingredients now in the pot I stopped there… so tempting though to keep adding more (lemon peel… star anise.. ginger…) but once you’ve added them to the mix you cant very well take them out. How I wish I had one of those little stills at home to experiment!

The actual distillation takes an hour I think. The first cut is thrown away and, as the condensed liquid, runs through you can taste the different ingredients as they all have differing time periods before their effect is felt. You wait until there is enough for a bottle (they reduce the alcohol level to a drinkable degree by adding water) and then seal it up with a wax dip. Oh, and you get to design the label too…

I’ve not opened my bottle yet… despite the eagerness to do so. Trepidation and anticipation too… there is after all just the one bottle of Spittoon’s The Gin Thing.

The Gin Lab Experience costs £125 per person as is run by the City of London Distillery, 22-24 BRIDE LANE, LONDON EC4Y 8DT (0207 936 3636)

1 Comment »

  1. That was an awesome experience, thanks for inviting me! I haven’t opened my bottle yet. I will later on today, I think…so precious! Rx

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