GIN FESTIVAL 2017
In case you hadn't heard, there's something rather special happening at the Cheese and Grain the weekend of Friday 19th & Saturday 20th May. A sell-out Gin Festival, in fact overnight one of the largest in the UK, is opening its doors for two days. Presenting some of the finest brands to be found on the market, this is an all-out celebration of the growing popularity of this juniper wonder, in all it's forms. Here we talk to Conker Spirit, Dorset's own gin distillery, and one of the festival's featured brands.
Who are Conker Spirit?
We are Dorset’s first gin distillery. We are the real deal; the distillers, the bottlers labellers and even the botanical foragers, hand picking New Forest gorse flowers destined for our copper pot still.
How and when did you get started in the making of gins?
The gin soaked lightbulb to set up Dorset’s first gin distillery landed in November 2013. After squirrelling away for almost a year and a half we launched our Dorset Dry gin in April 2015.
Is gin your favourite tipple, or do your tastebuds branch out beyond your field of expertise?
We love gin, you can’t beat a crisp G&T to sooth a hot summer’s day, but we definitely are not always loyal to gin! Being surrounded by gin on a daily basis means that we often reach for a chilled IPA or glass of Malbec.
Your website contains a series of blogs on the subject of releasing your potential and following one’s dreams. Was opening a distillery a dream you harboured for a long time?
My dream initially was just to do my own thing. So I was searching for something I could call my own, pour my heart into and get back control of my life! Then I landed on the gin idea, it was perfect. I had always loved gin and thought being a distiller was such a mysterious and romantic job. I never dreamed I would actually become one!
It’s a time-honoured tradition of drinking to say one drinks rum, or one drinks gin. It’s a question of where one’s taste buds are more inclined. Do you think this is the case or the two have their mutual benefits?
Well it certainly doesn’t apply to me! Its all about exploring all the different varieties on offer because they all have a time and a place, and the world of cocktails would be a very dull place without rum!
What can you tell us about your main concoction, Dorset Dry Gin?
The Dorset Dry is a classic gin that’s true to juniper. The subtle incorporation of the Dorset notes of marsh samphire, elderberries and handpicked New Forest gorse, brings bright and refreshing lighter notes to Conker. This all means you will be surprised to find yourself happily sipping Conker straight over ice, giving you sweet, sour, bitter and dry all in one delicious package, taking you on a fantastic journey. Mix at your leisure, but this gin can definitely hold its own.
And lastly, if you had to choose, what are some of your favourite brands of gin to drink?
I’ve become a bit of a gin snob I’m afraid, so I’d have to say that you can’t beat the likes of Tanqueray, or if you’re looking for a new kid on the block, Tarquin’s always hits the spot.
Our editor spoke to Fred from Conker Spirit http://www.conkerspirit.co.uk/
Pictured is distiller Rupert Holloway
To buy tickets for Gin Fest 2017 please visit https://cheeseandgrain.ticketsolve.com/shows/873562899/events