Scottish Beer & Gin Tasting at The Bon Vivant's Companion
Sunday 28th September 2014
The start of August saw us head south to promote North Hop 2014 to the lovely people of Edinburgh and by pure chance I picked up on a tweet earlier on that week that led to us booking in for one of The Bon Vivant's Companion's special tasting nights, this one specifically focusing on Scottish Beer and Gin, two of my favourite things!
So after a long drive down the A9 (nose to tail traffic combined with Edinburgh Festival traffic and pedestrians) I was more than ready for some gin and beer sampling, in fact I was positively gasping so when we arrived and were given the option of which of the four Scottish gins we'd like to try first, a refreshing Caorunn Gin with Fever-Tree tonic water and red apple seemed just the ticket. This was then closely followed up with The Botanist, this time paired with 1724 tonic water and a slice of lime. Then we moved onto Blackwoods Vintage Dry Gin with light Fever-Tree tonic water and lime and then finished off the gin tastings with Hendrick's Gin served with Fever-Tree tonic water and a slice of cucumber. As these were all gins I was already familiar with this tasting didn't really serve the purpose of discovering something new but more reaffirming my love of certain gins with Caorunn Gin still being up there as one of my favourites. My drinking partner however, who is quite new to the gin scene was delighted to sample a few gins that were new to her and enjoyed them all, in copious amounts!
The room within The Bon Vivant's Companion in which the tasting was held was down in the basement/cellar and had a good vibe and set-up for this type of event. There was quirky illustrations on one wall, autographs and quotes from visiting distillers, etc on another and two long rustic bars made out of barrels and chunky wooden boards on which the tastings were served from.
So, onto the beer tasting and to kick things off we were given a low hops option, Alba Scots Pine Ale by William Bros Brewing Co, one that I hadn't tried before but will certainly be looking out for in the future. The next one up I was looking forward to trying because it was the 2014 beer from Natural Selection Brewing (a collaboration project between the students at Heriot-Watt University and Stewart Brewing Company) called Mutiny on the Beagle, a British style IPA which was quite bitter but smooth and fruity at the same time, very nice. Then we moved onto Profanity Stout, another one from William Bros Brewing Co and another new one to me, which was very dark in colour but surprisingly very easy to drink with lots of roasted malt flavour and a fruity aroma coming through, big thumbs up from a non stout drinker here! Next up was Alechemy Brewing Onyx Black IPA with very deep bitter and hoppy flavours but a bit too full on for my tastes unfortunately. And to round things off we ended with a California Common from Knops Beer Company, a brewery I hadn't heard of until this tasting. It is a 'steam beer' (American style brewing) style beer, very easy drinking with some classic steam beer flavours and finished off with a touch of fruit. So overall it was a pretty good beer tasting with some new discoveries along the way and I scored with double helpings as my drinking partner opted to stick with the gins!
The tasting itself was £10 which was great value for money especially when that cost was then offered as a discount if you went on to spend £30 or more in the bottle shop, which was easily done in our case! And it was run between 5.30pm and 7.30pm as a drop-in session so you didn't have to be in and sitting down by a certain time which made for a very relaxed and informal session. There was some tapas on offer too to accompany the tastings although we were a bit late arriving to benefit from all the tasty offerings. The two team members on hand to guide us through the tastings and answer any questions were very knowledgeable and friendly which all in all made for a very enjoyable way to kick off a Friday evening!