Gin lovers are in high spirits as they sample their favourite tipples

Pigeon with leeks and a seed and honey dressing

LAWRENCE MURPHY: Pigeon with leeks, seed and honey dressing

  • Portsmouth Guildhall packed for return of Gin Festival
  • More than 140 varieties on offer
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For gin lovers, it was the perfect tonic.

They flocked to Portsmouth Guildhall to sample to huge array of varieties on offer at Gin Festival.

More than 140 different gins were on offer at the three sessions.

And, with the festival making a welcome return after its first staging in Portsmouth last year, they were lapped up by enthusiastic drinkers.

The is not an event for the ‘big brand’ producers, but rather a celebration of the country’s ever-growing premium and handcrafted gin industry.

Gins of vastly different tastes were on offer, including many flavoured varieties, infused with a range of influences – from tea to lavender, from rhubarb to pink grapefruit. Seven producers were on hand to offer advice, backed up by free taster samples of their drinks.

This group of friends from Chichester enjoyed a tipple at The Gin Festival held inside Portsmouth Guildhall. (left to right), Clare Channell, Victoria Harris and Jane Wade. 
Picture Ian Hargreaves (161102-1)

This group of friends from Chichester enjoyed a tipple at The Gin Festival held inside Portsmouth Guildhall. (left to right), Clare Channell, Victoria Harris and Jane Wade. Picture Ian Hargreaves (161102-1)

They included the Dorset-based producer Conker Spirit, which is quickly growing both its reputation and its supply network.

Luke Lamb, one of the three-strong team who started production of its Dorset Dry Gin last year, said that festivals and vents were important in getting out the message about the thriving craft gin industry.

‘Our gin is proving very popular’ he said. ‘It’s the botanicals that give it its unique flavour. They are locally-sourced samphire, elderberries and gorse flowers. It can be a bit tricky picking those with getting pricked!’

Maya Grimes of Gin Festival said that small producers were thriving and that people were flocking to try their premium gins.

It’s the botanicals that give it its unique flavour

Luke Lamb, Conker Spirit

‘Our first event was only in 2013 but it has been successful since the start’ she said.

‘People can come along and sample the very different gins that are being produced around the country.

‘And of course it’s a great way to discover a whole range of cocktails, and to see how different mixers complement different gins.

‘So it’s about not only understanding the unique characteristics of a particular gin but also of seeing whether it works best with, say, an elderflower tonic or with a ginger ale.’

Talks on the history of gin distilling also formed part of the event, which was held at Portsmouth Guildhall over three sessions on Friday and Saturday.

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