I must start this blog post by stating that I don’t really like gin.
Yes, I’m actually beginning a post entirely about gin by remarking that I don’t even enjoy the stuff. Good job, Marnie, good job.
But this point is very important to this story.
Gin, to me, is hugely associated with the English – and with a history surrounding English and Dutch soldiers, then it’s major rise in popularity over the last five years in the UK, plus it being my British fiance’s drink of choice, it’s no wonder I associate the liquor with England.
Being from Australia, where gin is not often a drink of choice (in fact, I only have one friend that I’ve EVER seen drinking it) I’d hardly been exposed to gin before meeting my now-fiance, Dan.
Since then, it’s been Dan’s mission to get me to enjoy the spirit, of which he has served to me with various mixers, a large array of garnishes and a number of different botanicals, but to no avail.
However, Dan and I were lucky enough to recently take part in a Lab Experience at Brennen and Brown Distillery in Cheltenham, England.
Despite my lack of fondness for gin, I know how much Dan loves it, so I organised it as a present for his 30th birthday (What an awesome fiance I am, I know! 😆)
I honestly can’t even believe the amount fun I had and the enjoyment I got out of this day – and coming from someone who began the day almost detesting gin, that is saying something.
Brennen and Brown’s Lab Experience allows you to learn how to distill your own gin, with your own chosen botanicals for flavour (which you then get to bottle and take home), while also getting to tour the craft distillery’s own lab, taste the gins they produce, and learn about what makes gin, well, gin!
Brennen and Brown’s gorgeous craft distillery is located in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, just a short train journey away from Bristol.
The business was created in 2012 by founder and Managing Director, Rich Bamber, who turned his love of gin and ginger into Brennen and Brown’s flagship gin, Gin with a hint of Ginger, when he realised there wasn’t any ginger gin on the market (and hadn’t been for 100 years).
Brennen and Brown now produce four different styles of gin and one style of vodka, alongside various limited edition seasonal gins each year.
Inside the lab experience, you learn about the base ingredients of gin, and which botanicals are often used to create the flavour of the spirit.
Did you know that without the base ingredients of juniper and coriander seeds gin isn’t gin, it’s just vodka? I didn’t.
After choosing three botanicals to flavour your own gin, you then get distilling!
Now, I love a sweet drink, but Dan is more of a savoury man, and since we had the share the gin between us, we had to go for a compromise.
Then botanicals we ended up choosing were thyme, lavender, and fresh orange – and let me tell you, they were a great choice (But more on that later!).
After measuring your ingredients out, blending them up, and adding them to the Still where they are left to brew, the Lab Experience will then take you down into the ‘Flavour Nurseries’ where Brennen and Brown create all of their gins.
Then it’s upstairs for a gin tasting of the distillery’s popular gins, before heading back to the lab to check on the progress of your work.
At this point I was slightly surprised to find myself enjoying two out of the five gins we tasted – Was all this learning about gin warming my tastebuds up to the flavour??
The Experience finishes, of course, with a taste test of your own, handmade gin, which you bottle, label, and serve yourself.
I must say, the gin Dan and myself created was perfect – a great balance between sweet and earthy, and oh-so-smooth.
Served with tonic and a slice of grapefuit, the clear liquid swilled over my tongue and made my tastebuds stand to attention – but for the first time with gin, in a good way.
Yes, I actually enjoyed drinking it!
Maybe it was all the hands-on experience, and the new appreciation I gained for the drink from an educational point of view, but since this day at Brennen and Brown I can now enjoy gin on occasion.
What a miracle! I know Dan is wholeheartedly cheering about this development, knowing that our formerly gin-and-vodka household is now simply a gin household.
So thank you, Brennen and Brown, for such a wonderful, fun, and informative day – Dan and I BOTH enjoyed ourselves massively and are absolutely stoked at the bottles sitting proudly on our kitchen shelf, waiting to be savoured.
I don’t think they’ll have to wait long…
Brennen and Brown host Gin Tastings as well as their Lab Experience. Find out more at brennenandbrown.com