The gin lovers among you will probably have noticed the bottles of Highwayman Gin that sit behind the counter. Our local subterranean toilet cocktail bar, Ladies and Gents, produce just 12 bottles of this a day. They also run Gin Club, an opportunity to make the gin yourself, and an experience we couldn't turn down!
We were greeted with a gin cocktail and sat down to learn more about the process of distillation, well actually rectification. That's the official term for the process of turning a base spirit into gin. The whole event is peppered with great facts like this as Willy Borrell took us through the history of gin and ginmaking.
As the still warms up - this is actually a miniature version of the 12 bottle still they use for the Highwayman - we're invited to smell and taste the botanicals that will eventually turn this vodka into gin. It will be up to us to determine how much of each to put in for the finished product. For it to be gin, over 45% of the botanicals must be juniper berries, we also tasted Angelica root, orange peel and coriander. Most gin producers use coriander seeds, but Highwayman Gin is made with fresh coriander instead!
There are samples of different types of gin as we learn about the origins of the drink and how we've ended up with the big brands today. Finally we get to add our mixture of botanicals to the Vestal vodka base (also produced by Borrell) and the still is sealed with dough from pizza producing neighbours, Delicious by Franco.
As the still works its magic we learn some more about the man on the label, Claude Du Val, gentleman highwayman of Holloway Road. And then the moment of truth, time to taste the gin. Turns out there's a bit more precision to it than just putting in a whole coriander plant, but for the cilantro fiends that we are, this is a very tasty and very unique gin.
As we leave, clutching the miniature bottle of gin that we produced ourselves, I feel very educated and slightly tipsy - it was necessary to follow up with one or two of the fantastic cocktails L&G serve. I would highly recommend!
Highway Gin is £39 in the shop and contact Ladies & Gents about Gin Club!