Friends of ours got married last year. To celebrate, we gave them a gin masterclass for two at 56 North. Being wonderful people, they suggested we join them and, equally fond of them and gin, we did. I’ve been to wine tastings and whisky tastings galore so this was something new and exciting.
I say I haven’t been to a gin tasting before but that is not strictly speaking true. A couple of years ago Christopher and I had our own gin tasting at 56 North, propping up the bar and asking for the bar tender’s favourite gins until we slid off our stools. I don’t remember my favourite that night (I didn’t take notes). This time, I paid better attention and drank smaller measures.
Journey with Gin masterclass
56 North’s formal tastings are well managed and aren’t going to make you fall off your chair. The measures are taster-sized – sensible when you’re trying eight – there’s food in the form of afternoon tea, and all the water we could drink, as well as an informative and entertaining host to walk us through the samples. All the seats were taken and the sessions seem to usually sell out so it’s a good idea to book well in advance.
Neil, our gin guide, explained how to taste taste gin to the best effect and then took us on a tour of samples. First, we smelled the gin, then sipped it neat, then with a little bit of tonic. I’ve written about tonic before and it was good to see that there were different ones on offer. Fevertree was represented by three tonics and one ginger beer, and Bon Accord’s tonic offered a fruity something else.
What did we drink?
I’m not going to give a full list of the gins that we tried. Each tasting is different but just in case you get some of the same ones as we had, let me simply give a sense of progression.
We started with something which, to the four in our party, tasted like a basic gin. Tasty but nothing special. We then walked up the flavour profiles, going through citrussy and herbal to spicy gins. My favourite gin ever was number six. Number four was also spicy and a delightful surprise. Something I want a bottle of. Completely unexpected was number 7, a fruit gin so sweet it was like liqueur. One of our friends and I loved that. (I keep telling people I haven’t got a sweet tooth but I’m not sure that’s true.)
Each gin was distinct and interesting. Trying them with and without gin also means that we’ve learned how distinct gins can be and to really appreciate the differences. We now take ours with a lot less tonic.
It was a really lovely afternoon. Outside, the rain hammered darkened the day and the wind blew, Inside, we got warmer and more talkative with each test, drinking water and eating cake to keep our palate’s fresh.
56 North offers different kinds of gin tastings: we tried the Journey with Gin Masterclass @ £25 per person. It was a fun way to celebrate the guy’s wedding and a great way to catch up. We stayed for a couple more drinks: it was raining, we had to wait for it to stop. It made sense.
Gin masterclass at 56 North
2 West Crosscauseway, Edinburgh EH8 9JP
Telephone: 0131 662 8860
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