Name: Sarah Miller
Blog: Gin A Ding Ding
Location: London, UK
Blog Summary: Gin A Ding Ding chronicles one woman’s gin journey - from gin-lover to gin-geek to gin judge and host of #GinADayMay - and features new gin alerts, booze news and reviews.
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!). Since then I returned to work and left again, so I'm between jobs at the moment but my kids, parents, gin blogging and gin judging keep me pretty busy!
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. For the past 15 months or so I've mostly been focusing on my gin monthly columns which feature new gin alerts, booze news and a bit about what I've been up to, but I am missing writing full-length reviews so I hope to return to that soon.
What’s it like to be a gin awards judge?
Well, obviously it's brilliant but it's also surprisingly hard work. It can be very time-consuming and you need to have real confidence in your own opinions and judgements which isn't always easy. And palate fatigue is definitely a real thing too! But it's also a huge honour and a fun challenge which often brings with it even greater opportunities.
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf?
I'm getting better at answering this question! Capreolus Distillery's Garden Swift is my all-time favourite gin (at the moment at least!) followed closely by Batch Industrial Strength. But it's also important to me to have a classic gin on my shelf - at the moment that's Sipsmith London Dry but it could just as easily be Beefeater Gin which offers incredible value for money. And I'll always have a soft spot for 58 Gin and East London Liquor Company; my two local distilleries. That said, my ambition is to always have new gins on my shelf!
Could we take a look at your amazing gin shelf!?
With pleasure; I’m pretty proud of my gin wall...
What are your favourite ways to serve gin?
I really don't think you can beat a classic gin and tonic, and I tend to try everything with Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water in the first instance, but I've got more and more into negronis and love experimenting with other cocktails too. I'm also, finally, starting to get to grips with martinis! I still don't totally know my preferred serve but I seem to be leaning towards dry with a splash of olive brine.
Do you have a favourite gin bar or gin event that you'd recommend to gin lovers?
My favourite event probably has to be Junipalooza; with its meet-the-maker ethos it stands head-and-shoulders above other gin festivals in my opinion. During the Covid-19 lockdown, however, there have been a huge number of virtual tours and tastings which have been wonderfully innovative and accessible so I hope the best of these continue after lockdown is lifted.
Can you tell us about #GinADayMay and how it started?
I originally came up with the idea in early 2019 when I felt gin had become a little serious and I wanted to create something fun that would encourage collaboration, communication and creativity. The idea of a daily photo challenge came from #Museum30 which a lot of my old colleagues used to enjoy participating in. I realised there wasn't anything similar in the gin world and so decided to create it myself. To join in with #GinADayMay, all you need to do is post a picture, or video, on your Instagram and/or Twitter account inspired by the daily prompt and include the hashtag #GinADayMay. This year saw even more engagement than 2019 with more brands, bloggers and gin-lovers getting involved so we'll certainly be doing it again next year and everyone is welcome to take part.
What is your top tip for people just starting to discover gin?
Enjoy it! Take your time to discover what you do (and don't) like. Experiment with different tonics and serves too - they can make a huge difference - and always keep your freezer stocked with plenty of ice! Finally, if possible, always try to support your local distillery.
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?
In the current circumstances this is a really tricky question. I think the focus on provenance and sustainability will continue. I suspect we’ll see a continuation of some virtual events, and other new innovative approaches, but I fear not all distilleries will survive this economic climate.
Head over to ginadingding.com to read Sarah's reviews and more of her top tips & recommendations!