31 March 2014

Blind Gin Tasting at The London Gin Club

Somehow, I've made it this far without paying a visit to The London Gin Club, a temple devoted to the worship of the juniper berry in The Star at Night pub, just steps from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. This weekend, though, a fellow gin fan was in town and it seemed like the perfect time for some reverence.

Inside, the bar has a cosy, vintage feel with low lighting and retro signage on the walls. It was lucky we booked a table, because it was already full at 6.30 on a Friday night.

At any one time, The London Gin Club has several different tasting menu options, two of which tell you in advance which four gins you will be sampling. However, in the country of the juniper, the blind gin tasting flights are king, and so we both ordered the four-gin blind tasting, which was £26 (LGC members get a small discount). There were, I think, gin cocktails and single G and Ts on the menu but we didn't get that far.

The waitress brought over our eight small numbered vials of gin, a couple of bottles of Fever Tree tonic and an assortment of garnishes. We also got our first two glasses and were encouraged to smell the gin and taste it neat before adding tonic and the garnish we thought was most appropriate.

I had a fair bit of gin-tasting practice during Dry Ginuary, but I'm not sure how successful I was at the blind tasting. I could definitely taste differences between the four gins, but I wasn't very good at describing the flavours (beyond "junipery" and "citrusy").

I had hoped that at the end we would get a nice printed "answer sheet" listing the gins we tried and the tasting notes, but instead the wait staff just scribbled the names down on a sheet of paper. Less ceremonious, but still useful. We both agreed that our favourite was the number three, which was the G'Vine Floraison gin, which was clean, fruity and very drinkable. My second favourite was number two, the Geranium Gin that had turned up in Ginvent, followed by Hayman's 1850. Number four, Elemental Cornish Gin, was my least favourite: it tasted too harsh and bitter for my liking.

The blind tasting was great fun and I highly recommend it. I'm pleased to have discovered the G'Vine, for instance. When I go again, I will peruse the menu and select a couple of gins I would really like to try instead. Four G and Ts is also quite a lot to drink in 90 minutes, even with a few nibbles (the antipasti plate of meats, olives and a tiny amount of bread was reasonable value at £8). The only minor problem with our evening was that the vintage clock on the wall was actually 15 minutes slow, which meant we had to rush to finish our last G and T before yielding our table to the next guests, which was a bit annoying. Next time (and there will be a next time), I'll check the time on my own phone. Time flies when you're having gin!

The London Gin Club. 22 Great Chapel Street, London, W1F 8FR (Tube: Tottenham Court Road). Website. Twitter.

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