How and why did you get into gin?
I've always liked gin but my real interest in, and love of, gin was ignited when I won tickets to join Gin Journey's London Gin Experience in the summer of 2014. I visited both the Beefeater and Sipsmith distilleries and, in turn, won a bottle of Sipsmith Gin to take home. I got a taste for gin, and also for gin competitions, and went on to win 10 bottles of premium gin from 31 Dover in the summer of 2015. It was winning tickets to Junipalooza in the summer of 2016 that persuaded me to start my blog as I realised I was gaining knowledge, and enjoying experiences, not available to everyone.
What else do you do as well as gin blogging?
I started Gin A Ding Ding (first as a Twitter account and later as a blog) when I was a somewhat bored stay-at-home mother of two (it is definitely called Mother's Ruin for a reason!). However, earlier this year I returned to work and am currently Documentation Officer at The Horniman Museum in south London. There's not a lot to connect the two (apart from a fair bit of geekery!) but there is an amazing clove teapot in The Horniman's collection I dream of serving gin and tonic from!
Who is your blog for and why should gin lovers have a read?
My blog is really for anyone interested in gin. I hope they will find my blog honest and approachable and fairly light-hearted too. I'm trying harder to offer things I don't see elsewhere, such as my pretty comprehensive reviews of the top gin subscription services available in the UK, and an increasing number of videos including cocktail-making and events, such as Gin Mare's MedRooftops, which I've been lucky enough to attend.
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf?
I always struggle with this question! It's important to me to have a classic gin on my shelf though - at the moment that's Sipsmith London Dry (I won 6 bottles a while back!) but it could just as easily be Beefeater Gin which offers incredible value for money. Then for variety I'd have a fruity gin - Warner Edwards Rhubarb Gin is my absolute favourite in this category - and something spicier like Zymurgorium's Manchester Gin or Makar Glasgow Gin.
As for current favourites: Bertha's Revenge and Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin are two great Irish Gins I'm hoping to add to my collection soon. Trevethan Gin and The Wrecking Coast are two more fantastic gins from Cornwall; The Wrecking Coast's Sloe Gin with cloves and local honey is particularly good. I also discovered Conniption Navy Strength Gin and 6 O'Clock Gin's Brunel Edition at this year's Junipalooza (I'll be reviewing the latter very soon!). And I'll always have a soft spot for 58 Gin and East London Liquor Company; my two local distilleries!
Can you share a #GinShelfie!?
What are your favourite ways to serve gin?
I enjoy making the odd cocktail at home, especially Gimlets, Southsides and Bees Knees which are about as easy as they get, but my favourite serve has to be a classic gin and tonic really. Just because it's a classic certainly doesn't make it boring though, especially with the incredible range of gins and tonics on the market these days. I normally prefer a generous gin tonica-style serve with plenty of ice and a great garnish, but I do tend to go a little heavier on the gin and lighter on the tonic than the Spaniards often do!
Do you have a favourite gin bar or gin event that you'd recommend to gin lovers?
Strangely enough I don't order many G&Ts when I'm out, and haven't been to nearly as many dedicated gin bars as you might imagine. I do love my cocktails though and my favourite bar has to be Hackney's Every Cloud; this summer's menu features an amazing chilli gin bramble and Felix's martiny machine makes an incredible ice-cold mini martini! The rest of the menu is far too good to focus just on the gin mind... If you make it there you have to try the Champagne Daiquiri or Good Morning, Vietnam.
What is your top tip for people just starting to discover gin?
Enjoy it! Gin festivals are great fun as well as a perfect way to discover what you do (and don't) like. My favourite is Junipalooza but there are plenty of other fab festivals all across the UK. Experiment with different tonics and garnishes too - they can make a huge difference - and always keep your freezer stocked with plenty of ice!
Do you have a top tip for aspiring gin bloggers?
Take your time to build up relationships. Blogging is not just about getting freebies and giving critique but also about learning from, and working with, others and giving them something back in return. That and get yourself a good editor (thankfully I'm married to one)!
What do you think the future of gin will be?
I don't see much except more growth in the gin industry for the next year or so and perhaps an even greater focus on provenance and sustainability. But the future certainly includes whisky too with plenty of distilleries waiting on their casks to come of age...
Head over to Gin a Ding Ding to read Sarah's reviews and more of her top tips & recommendations!