My trip to Junipalooza in London this year was a ginuine assault on my palate, so much so I am even considering dry July (except for Friday).
My personal stand out was Dorset’s Pothecary Thai Blend Gin (46% ABV). It wasn’t just the mango, coconut and pineapple, or the tilia flowers and turmeric, or the range of other spices and herbs, but the fact it was served with sparkling coconut water was the highlight. Who would have thought?
But Martin Jennings did and I applaud him. I think there is a whole new direction for gin mixing that has nothing to do with tonic. His Sicilian Blend Gin left me smiling in 2017 as well.
The northern Welsh distillery Aber Falls is proud of its whisky, but their range of gins was very good – well nearly – their rhubarb and ginger gin was not for me, however their orange marmalade gin was a treat. The sweet and bitter citrus and the pine juniper worked very well. It’s also not a liqueur, but a 41.3% ABV gin.
In summary there were too many pinks at London, and a fair few were not particular good.
I made a point of stopping at all the Aussie stands at Juniperlooza and found some real gems. I have said it before, and will again, we are bringing some top shelf gins to the market and I hope we keep surprising the industry.
It was hard to fight through the crowds to get at Cape Byron Distilleries stand. The Brookies Bryon Dry Gin and their Slow gin with Aussie Davidson plums proved very popular. Eddie Brooks was working the crowd well and was very pleased with the reception to their gins.
Stuart Gregor was also showing off the Four Pillars range and, like us, the Bloody Shiraz is a winner over there. David Whittaker was manning the Manly Spirits stand and like his compatriots, swamped with interest.
Nicole and Jon Durdin from the young Seppeltsfield Road Distillery reported that their House Gin was really well received, but the huge winner was their Barossa Shiraz Gin, which was completely sold out. They said that they will be back.
It really was amazing to see so many punters surrounding the Aussie stands. Even though Australia was equal highest in the number amount of non-UK stands (with the USA), I can confidently say that the event would be better for having twice as many Aussie stands.
I also caught up with George Georgiadis at the Never Never stand for an extended chat, basically because he had some time given that by Sunday arvo they were sold out! He told me that their very forward juniper gins were a bit confronting to the average UK punter, but the gin zealots and trade went bonkers. George, Sean and Tim know they have the Aussie bar tenders under a juniper spell by giving them amazingly versatile gins and it appears that a few UK bars might be following the Aussie lead.
Their Triple Juniper (43% ABV) is like rolling in a pine forest with peppery lemons and the Southern Strength (52% ABV) is like being buried in pine needles, with a pile of peppery lemons piled on top. One of the reasons the guys were a last-minute inclusion at Junipalooza was their amazing success at the 2019 World Gin Awards only a few weeks earlier where Southern Strength won World’s Best Classic Gin and Juniper Freak 2018 (58% ABV) won Australia’s Best Navy Gin.
Now I can’t even describe the 2018 vintage of the Juniper Freak – yes vintage! Now THAT is craft spirits for you. They describe it best with some choice words in their website tasting notes – check them out.
You’ll also read about the product that sold out first at Junipalooza – the Fancy Fruit Cup: a combination of Triple Juniper, Collingwood craft liqueur maker, Marionette’s barrel-aged Orange Curaçao (a blend of navel, Seville and blood oranges) and few extra ingredients. We do it better than the Pims, I mean Poms…
Stay tuned, as we will be releasing an award winners pack that will have a couple of Never Never gins for a taste.