To celebrate the re-opening of Nelson’s Distillery Gin School, I was invited to an interactive, hands-on experience day that gives you an introduction to the process of distilling, teaches you all the pub quiz gin facts you’ll ever need and guides you in making your own personalised gin that you take home – what’s not to love?!
We started by hearing a bit about how Nelson’s Distillery was set up and about their unique blend of 27 botanicals, before moving on to the history of the juniper berry (key gin ingredient!) This was followed by a talk through of the distilling process and flavour profiles. Here we were invited to try their classic London Gin and advised how best to taste it.
We used the base ingredients provided, chose a number of ingredients we liked the sound of and then added them to the still where our own creation started bubbling away in front of us! I wanted citrus but sweet flavors as I usually find gin a little too bitter so mine included hibiscus, rosehip, pink grapefruit and elderflower.
Next up was another taster – their Rhubarb & Custard gin which was definitely my favourite and evoked memories of childhood visits to the sweet shop.
We then had a lovely two course lunch provided by the Clayton Hotel who offered great vegan options including an indulgent chocolate tart. Then we heard all about the history of gin – including prohibition era and that at one time Londoners were drinking around 2 pints of the stuff every day! We ended that session with our third taster which was their Timur Gin. Flavoured with the Timur Pepper, part of the Szechuan Pepper family, this was like nothing I had ever tried before. It was almost spicy with warm aftertaste but wasn’t my cup of tea!
Throughout these sessions, our own gin was being distilled in front of us and we kept decanting into our own 70cl bottle. During the distill, you get 3 layers of liquid: heads, hearts and tails. The heads is the first and strongest flavoured part then the hearts which is approximately 75% ABV and the majority of the distillation. Finally the tails come through which don’t have a nice flavour and so are usually extracted and added as the alcohol base in the next distill. For our bottles, we switched off the process before this.
Distilled water is added and then you shake the bottle to mix all the components as the ABV is tested and recorded – ours was a healthy 42%. The final step was to wax seal the bottles and stick the handwritten labels on. They also record the batch number so you are able to re-order it on their website at a later date.
From start to finish, the day was a delight! Our hosts David & Gabby, were so knowledgeable and entertaining, getting to learn all about distilling was really interesting and we got a lovely one-off bottle of gin to take home. I’d say this would be a great event for a hen do or birthday celebration, or just something a bit different to do with a friend or partner.
PLEASE NOTE: This was a PR invite from Nelson’s Distillery. All the views shared are honest and my own.