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4/23/2016

Gin Festival - Swansea

I'll admit it, I've never quite taken to gin. When I was growing up the only person I ever saw with a gin and tonic was my Father. So I suppose I always associated it with the 'older gentleman' and when we were invited to attend the Gin Festival in Swansea, I was excited to see what was on offer but I had no idea of the varieties or varying quality from one gin to the next. Let alone the array of mixers out there that can change the taste of the 'straight' gin instantaneously.

We were given an extremely warm welcome when we arrived at Brangwyn Hall. Brangwyn Hall is the perfect venue for the Gin Festival, grand and spectacular in design, with high ceilings and beautiful features. The whole ambience of the evening worked spectacularly, combining the wondrous location with the elegance and charm of modern day gin.

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Entry is £7.50 per person and this includes your very own special 'take-home' gin glass.

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The glass comes with a special gin badge (allowing you re-entry if you leave the venue at any point), a special gin book and pen. The book is extremely useful for getting an idea of what might suit your particular tastes so it's worth having a nose in the book before settling on your chosen tipple.

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In order to get your drinks from the various stands you must purchase tokens from the designated token area. You get one token for £5 and then you exchange this for a glass of gin. It's a great system because you don't have to fiddle about with money and change for each individual drink, so the 'serving of drinks' turnover is much fast than in a regular bar.

There is a lot to see and take in at the festival and the first thing we did was try a taster from Gin Explorer. Being a 'newbie' to gin, this was a little strong for me, but Warren enjoyed it and the lady who offered us the taster was really informative. They are holding a promotion currently on their monthly subscription, and it looks pretty awesome!

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After this we went off to try our first 'token' gin. We had a look at the four different bars (labelled A-D) and decided to start with Stand D: Flavoured gin. Warren chose Ely Dark Chocolate with orange juice. At first the chocolate didn't seem very strong, but we both tried sipping it and savouring it and the whole drink changed. The chocolate and orange were perfectly paired and Warren was in chocolate orange heaven!

I opted for Braeckman's Hazelnut Jenever. Ir was creamy and smooth and so moreish. This was my absolute favourite and as a bit of a wimp with spirits it was the best choice I could have made. As one of the staff members pointed out, it would help line my stomach, and it certainly did!

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I had to try Braeckman's Vanilla Jenever which is basically like liquid vanilla icecream! Warren chose a gin he had tried before from Llantrisant, Cardiff Dry Gin. It's smooth and works perfectly with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic and garnished with rosemary and orange. I tried a bit of it and was completely pleasantly surprised. The rosemary is perfect with this gin and mixed with the tonic this drink perfect for the novice gin drinker, like me!

After this we thought we'd pop along to one of the master-class presentations. There were presentations through the evening from Brockman's, Mason's, Robin of Locksley, Dodds and Pinkster. We arrived in time for the co-founder of Robin of Locksley Gin. I loved this part of the evening, it was informative, fun and we got to sample some of their yummy gin!

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I'd advise anyone going to one of the festivals to attend a presentation, we learnt quite a lot and it was nice to meet the face behind the brand. You could really see their passion and drive for their product. Afterwards we managed to try each gin out with different mixers. The ones that really stood out were Robin of Locksley with Elderflower tonic and Brockman's Bramble cocktail. Yum!

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For the final part of the evening we tried out two more flavours; Le Gin 1 & 9 with ginger ale and Edinburgh Rhubarb & Ginger with soda water. These were so unusual and refreshing, we really didn't expect such variety or vibrancy from the different flavours on offer. We enjoyed our final drinks with wonderful entertainment on the main stage and the buzz of people all around.

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We had such a lovely evening, and whether you think you like gin or not, you will find something at the festival that you love...

Thank you to the people at Gin Festival for having us, you've converted me and opened my eyes to a whole new world of gin!
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