Just over a year ago, I didn’t like gin. Or didn’t think I did. Until I went along to the Gin tasting event at Olives at the Station, and left declaring Gin was my tipple. I’ve stuck to my word and since then enjoyed an awful lot of nights out sponsored by gin.
Last weekend was no exception as Olives at the Station brought something unique to Whitley Bay and hosted their first ever Gin and Rum Tasting Festival, and I was more than excited to go along *
I always associate festivals as a summer thing, and as the weather is getting colder I didn’t really expect to get the same enjoyment of food, music and drinks as you do sat in a field drinking a Caribbean Twist Cocktail under the blazing sun. So my thought was I would pop along, see what it was about, try a few gin samples and grab some images for this blog.
However, we arrived as the event kicked off just after 3, and my two friends and I were amongst the last to leave at around 9.00.
On arrival at the venue, Olives owner Julie Summers kindly presented us with an Olives at the Station branded Balloon gin glass, which I was really grateful for. I’m ashamed to mention I have been drinking my gin out of one of my many plastic cups with a straw. You know the glittery ones from Primark, targeted for kids. Guess I’ve just never got around to buying a proper one, so I’m now feeling slightly more grown up and sophisticated with a proper gin glass.
Now lets get into the event itslef
We then began to make our way around the various gin stations, first of all trying Longsands, sampling their Violet then Mandarin Gin. I’m not quite hardcore yet, so added a splash of mixer to each and thoroughly enjoyed both. Parma Violent Gin seems to be proving quite popular at the minute, but I think I preferred the fruity taste of the Mandarin.
We then moved around the neatly presented and arranged tables, with each supplier being more than happy to tell us not only about the gins, but the history and where their interest in Gin came from, which we found fascinating.
One thing I noticed throughout the afternoon, was although each supplier had bottles of their spirits for us to purchase if we wished, there was absolutely no hard sell. Non at all. It was clear priority was talking about their spirits and each supplier we spoke to was more than happy to advise the best mixers and condiments. At no point did I feel any pressure to use the words we often do at stalls of ‘I might pop back later and buy one’ as there was just no feeling of any obligation to buy. Everyone just seemed grateful for our thoughts and feedback.
We Especially enjoyed a bit of a Whitley Bay Seaglass Masterclass, and gained an interesting insight into the versatility of gin and how the same flavour can be tweaked and served either sweet, or spicy.
I won’t go into each brand of gin and rum we sampled at the event in this blog, but I will leave a list of suppliers at the end and links to their websites where you can find out more for yourselves.
Various artists played throughout the afternoon, adding to a vibrant but relaxed atmosphere. I find sometimes you can feel drowned out by music, but the emphasis at this event was socialising and finding out about the gin and rums on offer.
After sampling a range of gins, and I think I was only brave enough to sample one rum, we then exchanged our tokens for drinks. I opted for my new favourite which is Pomegranate and Jasmine Sanction Gin, followed by an Agnes Arber Unicorn Gin. Called such because it’s blue when poured turning purple when the mixer is added and with the extra touch of edible glitter. We sat outside at a table and Emma went for some nachos by Food kindle, just one of the event food suppliers, and we sat at a table with the gorgeous smell of Gingerbread from the candle on our table, and warmth from the heaters. Such a lovely feeling as the sun fades to darkness and the chill sets in. I also noticed blankets on each table for warmth. It’s the extra touches like this which makes me want to return to a venue.
We then later took our drinks inside to enjoy more music from Scott Wall along with three other musicians who had played throughout the afternoon. They’d formed an impromptu band for the evening and we clapped along to a few songs, including one by The Rolling Stones.
So was it value for money?
Absolutely. Tickets to this event were £10. For £10 we got our Gin glasses, unlimited samples, live music and the very best of the Gin and Rums from the local area and further afield.
Full sized drinks were bought on a token basis, at £5 a token and I’d say £5 is the going rate for a gin in any bar. I went along to one of the many Pizza and Prosecco events in Newcastle taking place across the UK back in August, and for £25 we got the tiniest glass cocktail in a champagne fruit and slice of pizza (I’ve read a lot of negative feedback from this event, therefore feel justified mentioning it in this blog). They also served drinks on a token basis, but with a minimum spend of £25 and I was worried Olives would similar, which was thankfully not the case. So my advice is, if your looking for a spirits festival, stick to the independent local ones.
To sum it up
The three of us had a fantastic afternoon, and I hope we can look forward to more events like this in the future. Having lived in Whitley Bay for the most part of my life, I have never felt such a sense of community as we seem to be experiencing now.
I’d also like to also give the Olives staff a mention in this. Kelly, I have been friends with for years and she is one of the most cheerful friendly girls I know who told us what we could expect throughout the afternoon, the token system and also drinks she’d recommend. And we had the absolute pleasure of meeting Stephen who had us all in fits of laughter with his quick wit and banter, only adding to a fantastic day.
Thank you for such a wonderful afternoon, Olives.
*This was a gifted experience and I received three free tickets in exchange for a blog post if I wished to write one. All views are entirely honest, and my own.
Where can I find out more about the Gin Rums on Offer?