It’s May already, and 2019 has been a year of progress – we finally have the bar open and running, our garden development is now underway and in a couple of months we should have some lovely outdoor seating for the great and good gin drinkers of Forest Hill and beyond. Check out the Subplot57 web site for details of what is up-and-coming as the range of events increases all the time, but first up we have Bloody Ben’s coming to do a tasting on May 18th. A Majorcan inspired gin, this is actually distilled in Earlsfield using Wandsworth Bee honey as one of its botanicals. The led tasting will start shortly after 7pm and your ticket price of £15 (£10 to FHGC members) will get you a signature G&T and a Negroni. Tickets can be purchased here.

If it is anything like our last tasting then you’ll not be disappointed, James from Foxhole Gin came and talked about both Foxhole and their new launch Hyke Gin, which is truly one of the best releases of the year, concerningly moreish! Tickets sold out early and he played to a packed house, explaining about how his process came into being and what makes Foxhole a little bit different to your bog-standard gins.

On the new realise front this year we have also seen new gins from Sipsmith, that I have yet to taste but have heard very good feedback for; Pothecary, with a fourth successful release, Pothecary III; the aforementioned Hyke, and; perhaps just about my favourite by a nose, Redsmith London Dry Gin – launched last year but now getting the kind of following it deserves, Redsmith has already won double gold at San Francisco and the heart of this seasoned connoisseur.

Talking of which, Paul from The Gin Guide very kindly asked Charlotte and I to sit among the judges for the London Dry category in this year’s Gin Guide Awards. Paul said some very nice things about us in his write up, but if is true that we do have a somewhat unique perspective on the industry, having started life as a gin blogger, I formed a gin club for like-minded ginophiles, ran a series of events before moving on to run two successful gin festivals and take on advisory roles in both social media promotion and set up of both gins and other festivals. We have developed two other in-house gins and, of course, now have a gin bar.

The biggest thing I have taken away from gin judging is that some distillers need their heads examining. Sure, you can take a poor product to market, with the right branding and a drowning in tonic water there will be a market for it. If you just want to make money then that’s all well and good, but submitting a product to be judged is a different kettle of fish, and frankly some of the spirits I tasted were only fit for fish-kettle cleaning. If you are going to take a product to market then please, for the love of the juniper gods, seek some professional opinion first. And if you have an existing brand with a good reputation, then don’t sully it by rushing a new product to market without getting a third-party inspection first. You may have the best gin in the world with your label on it, but if you put out a mouthwash with that same name on it then you are diluting your value and damaging your image.

Rant over; thankfully there were some truly great gins among those we blind-tasted and generally the standard was good, there is much to be delighted about as we head towards summer, and if you’re not already doing Gin A Ding Ding’s challenge of a Gin-A-Day-May then get on it, and come and visit us at Subplot 57 soon.

Gin Club Captain’s Round Up – May