If you’re looking to try something new this year, how about creating your very own gin?
A new tailor-made tasting and distilling session offers the chance to find your favourite flavours and combine them in a delicious bespoke blend to take home and enjoy.
The masterclass is the brainchild of Spirit of Harrogate on Montpellier Parade, makers of the Slingsby Gin range.
“The whole ethos behind our Master Distiller experience is that it’s bespoke to the individual. At the beginning of the two-hour workshop, each person is given six gins to blind taste. Each of these gins follows the categories outlined by The Gin Guild: juniper, citrus, floral, fruit, herbal and spice,” explains Alex Hanson, head mixologist at Spirit of Harrogate.
After the tasting, when you've worked out what suits your palate, it's time to head to the distillation room where each person is given their own copper still and equipment. Then it's up to you to get creative and pick the botanicals that work with your favourite flavour profile to make a totally unique gin.
Founded by Marcus Black and Mike Carthy in 2014, the Spirit of Harrogate’s range was inspired by William Slingsby, who discovered the properties of the water bubbling from Tewit Well almost 450 years ago and helped make Harrogate the spa destination it is today.
Their award-winning London Dry Gin, created in August 2015, blends locally sourced botanicals linked with the town's restorative nature, including nettle, rhubarb, primrose, sweet cicely, milk thistle and rosehip, with Taylors of Harrogate green and jasmine tea and water drawn from the Harrogate aquifer.
They also offer Yorkshire Rhubarb Gin, using fruit from Oldroyd's farm in Wakefield, part of the unique 'Rhubarb triangle', as well as Navy Strength Gin and Slingsby Vodka.
And the pair’s creation was timely: the latest figures show that 1.5m more UK adults are drinking gin now than there were four years ago.
But according to mixologist Alex, the range of tipples out there can be baffling – which is why the distiller experience guides you through each variety, then helps you to build your own by picking the best from each.
“Over the last three years, gin has exploded. On average there are four new gin distilleries opening in Europe every day, so there are thousands to choose from. It’s not surprising when people say there’s too much choice around!” he says.
“That's why we’ve created this experience which not only helps you work out which type of gin you should buy to suit your palette, but also allows you to make your own bespoke bottle of gin from scratch.”
The Spirit of Harrogate stocks more than 150 gins to choose from, including their own, of course, with dozens of different tonics to pair them with.
Head to the store for an open session or book up a private experience with a group of friends. Their Spirit of Gin experience costs £40 per person, for up to 12 people, with four drinks per person: sit back and sip a perfectly mixed G&T while you are led through the fascinating history of gin.
And the latest two-hour Master Distiller package includes time for tasting followed by the blending and distilling session and you'll be taking home your bespoke bottle with a personalised label, for £90 per person (up to eight people per session).
For details and to book, visit their website today.