Top Gin Blogger - Nic @ Gin & Beer
How and why did you get into gin?
I stumble into a lot of things in life and gin was no different. By chance my dad brought a bottle of gin over as, for some odd reason he really wanted me to try it... I didn't but he poured some into a Tupperware as he was leaving insisting I tried it... he was incredibly determined! After that singular measure sipped from a Tupperware I became intrigued and, as is often the case with me, I jumped in feet first straight to the deep end. I booked up a seven course gin-based food tasting menu which had gin pairings as I figured this was a fun way to get some info and a basic understanding of what was going on.
I remember sitting down in the restaurant, opening the gin menu, sifting through it and putting it immediately back down... The selection was so immense it was intimidating. I went with the pairings and really enjoyed the background of the gins provided and became fascinated with the stories and the flavours and everything that made this drink so versatile.
I then signed up to a gin club and began reading about my new favourite thing... It's safe to say I quickly became obsessed.
What else do you do as well as gin blogging?
I look after my two little cats - rescue cat Bailey and her son Oreo. If you follow me on social media I dare say you'll have seen them as I do enjoy showing them off. I also LOVE going out to eat and discovering new foods and drinks... I work full time (some weeks I work more than full time!) and because of this I love to relax and, given that I'm a bit of a geek, I love gaming... Always have. I currently predominantly play on the PS4 but I'd be lying if I didn't delve into retro gaming via my mini SNES and Playstation.
I also love having people over and having games, food and drinks... And make some fun memories!
Who is your blog for and why should gin lovers make sure they have a read and follow you?
I imagine everyone says this but I like to think (hope!) my blog is for everyone who has an interest in gin and/or beer. Given the fact I'm still learning a lot myself I think people new to the gin/beer scene should find it easy to get into and understand, but likewise those who have been drinking them for a while should hopefully enjoy it as well as I put a load of heart into each 'article/review' so there should be plenty of info, background stories and, more recently, 'meet the maker' type interviews with distillers etc which the more seasoned gin fan will hopefully enjoy too... I've been told my style of writing is almost like I'm talking to you, which is what I'm going for so I'm chuffed to bits that's come across to folk.
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf / what are some of your faves at the moment?
I don't have a singular favourite gin as my taste very much depends on my mood. I recently tired Pentland Hills Gin and Fidra Gin and adored them. Fidra was a funny one as, at first taste, I didn't like it. Then as it developed and I tasted again I got it... I really got it... Then I literally got it by buying a bottle!
Hrafn Valhalla is excellent as well and one I'm having fun experimenting with... The level of flavour in it is extraordinary and it's their new 49% super smooth number... I can also enjoy this neat.. Faaaaaaar too easily.
The ladies at Esker make some fantastic gins... All of them are worthy of your time. I've also loved everything I've tried from Brentingby Gin... Bruce is a wizard. Mackintosh is another I adore... However, to my shame, I haven't picked it up yet!
I also think I'd like to draw attention to the Wee Farm Drover's Gin and Defiance Premium Gin.... Both of these are superb. As you can see I really struggle with picking just one...
What are some of your favourite gin serves and cocktails?
A G&T goes without saying, so other than that I'd have to say the Negroni. I only discovered it in the last six months or so and have had endless fun playing with it and discovering the different ways to create it!
My current top Negroni gins would be Red Door Gin or Garden Shed Cote Rotie Aged Gin... Although Boatyard Double Gin is also a contender! I use Campari and, vermouth-wise, I've been going between Cocchi and Antica Formula. I've picked up some little bitters recently so I'm toying with them as well and look forward to sharing them as I figure out how they work best!
Do you have a favourite gin bar that you'd recommend to gin lovers?
Top gin bar has to be Gin 71 in Glasgow. The selection is immense and its ALWAYS a 50ml measure... They also have a cracking selection of cocktails and the staff are amazing with brilliant recommendations if you tell them what generally tickles you... if you're local and just starting your gin journey I'd recommend it due to the level of knowledge the staff have on the gins and the flavour profiles... Their recommendations have always been spot on.
Do you have any favourite gin events that you'd recommend to gin lovers?
Event-wise this year we had the first ever International Scottish Gin Day which was set up by Natalie and Martin Reid at the Gin Cooperative and it was absolutely brilliant... I can only imagine how it'll grow as the years go by. I was very privileged to have been involved in it as an official supporter and had loads of fun on the run up to the event as well as the big day itself.
I also went to the Gin To My Tonic event in Glasgow this year and it was amazing... HUGE! I loved getting to meet some distillers I'd chatted to and get to taste their hard work.
Next year my plans are that I'll be re-attending Gin To My Tonic and hopefully the ISGD2020 on the 8th August!
What is your top tip for people just starting to discover gin?
Be open, be daring and take notes as you taste. Be open to trying a variety of different styles, be daring to go for flavour combos you might think are a bit "out there" and take notes to help you keep track.
The other thing I'd say is to try the gin neat and then not to flood it with tonic... Add a bit at a time to find that sweet spot... And have fun with the garnish!
Do you have a top tip for aspiring gin bloggers?
This is tough because I'm still finding my feet myself but I think you have to stand out and be a bit different. I also think being honest and having some integrity about what you're writing is essential... People need to know they can trust what you're saying and that you're not being influenced by anything other than what you're tasting.
Be yourself and let your personality shine through in your writing. Also it's essential to enjoy what you're writing about so it doesn't become a chore... Don't feel pressured into writing something you don't want to or saying something you don't believe or being rushed into a particular article because the quality will take a dip and it's your reputation that will suffer.
Also educate yourself... Learn about the gin, the distiller, the story and the process. Finally get involved in the community through social media... It's a fun and very welcoming place full of advice and knowledge.
What do you expect to see in the gin industry in the future?
I think the wacky gins will stick around, meaning Gin Monkey's #stopfuckingwithgin hashtag will get plenty more use. Gin is a big industry currently and people will always seek to profit from these things, so as a result of this, I don't think we've seen our last bottle of sparkly unicorn pee.
However, on the up side, I also reckon that we'll see an increase in gin-related activities for us gin fans to partake in. For example I think we'll see an increase in 'make your own' gin days (like Eden Mill's Blendworks), gin tastings, distillery tours and, of course, arts and craft type things (bottle lamps I'm looking at you!).
I'm really excited about where the industry is going and, given how new I am to it all, I've got so much catching up to do!!!
Go and check out Nic's Gin and Beer for yourself at ginandbeer.blog
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