North Hop

Scottish Juniper Festival 2014 - Review

Monday 16th June 2014

Twitter is a great thing, it helps you discover new businesses, people and events and it was exactly where we first heard about the very first Scottish Juniper Festival taking place at Summerhall, Edinburgh in June.

Now there is three words in that last paragraph that we couldn't resist - gin, festival and Edinburgh, all as equally as appealing so it was a very, very easy sell on their part! Tickets got booked, a weekend hit list of bars and restaurants to visit got created and we were on it...

As this was the very first Scottish Juniper Festival to take place we had no idea what to expect other than there would be a lot of gin! The festival was broken down into 3 sessions, Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night, we opted for the Saturday afternoon session so that we could make the most of the great weather in the gin garden and also so that we could still head out in Edinburgh afterwards for some drinks and dinner. And of course, Saturday 14th June this year landed on World Gin Day, one of the most important dates in a gin drinkers diary!

The venue for the festival, Summerhall (the former Royal Dick Vet School) was very well suited for this style of event and having been there for a few events previously knew what to expect. Summerhall is eclectic, unique and now also home to Pickering's Gin and Barney's Beer.

On arrival we were presented with session badges and a map/checklist for our gin adventure, so we decided to start at the bottom and work our way up and around with Pickering's Gin Distillery our first stop. Their gin is hand crafted and they are the first gin distillery to be established in Edinburgh for over 150 years. I was instantly drawn in by the birdcage chandeliers containing gin bottles and the very shiny copper still! Next up was a visit to Hendrick's Ma'am (Mobile Academy of Alchemical Meanderings) located in the central courtyard for some Hendrick's, cucumber and tonic and a tour of the bus filled with gin, botanicals, books, a typewriter, a flying pig (yip, it was full of surprises) and lots more oddly interesting artefacts!

Out of all the gins we sampled, a few distinctly stood out…

Caorunn Gin - Always been one of my favourites and still is, served up with an apple wedge and tonic or with apple juice, lush.

Burleighs Gin - The interesting thing about this one is at this point it hadn't yet been distilled, great packaging though!

Darnley's View - With gin infused cake, gin Bloody Mary's and gin with ginger ale they could do no wrong in my eyes.

NB Gin - From North Berwick, this one I had sampled and enjoyed prior to the festival and would certainly recommend.

Gin Mare - This Mediterranean gin was served up with basil, ice and tonight and was delightful!

Opihr - Served with a twist of orange peel, ice and tonic this oriental spiced gin is very different and would be one for trying in cocktails.

Naturally, after sampling all those gins some food was required to cure the munchies so back down to the courtyard we headed for a melt in the mouth pulled pork, apple sauce and crackling roll from Snickering Pig which was just the ticket and then before we knew it our 4 hour gin filled session had ended.

Two things we missed in a haze of gin was the Style Gallery (fashion and style) and the Spiritual Sessions (private talks and tastings) but now we know how it works we will be better organised and will plan our gin mission ahead of time for next year. Roll on Scottish Juniper Festival 2015!