By Lea Harris
One of the good things about lockdown has been the ingenuity of businesses.
From online craft classes, yoga, singing groups, quiz nights to restaurants that are now doing deliveries. The other increase in virtual living is tasting events. You can find
cheese and chocolate experiences as well as boozy affairs like wine, beer, rum, whisky and, of course, gin.
Step in Archie McDiarmid from Luvian's Bottleshop in St Andrew's, who invited me to join fellow gin-ginners in a remote imbibing session.
A couple of days before the gathering, the box of goodies arrived - 4 miniatures with complementary tonics, a pre-mixed G & T. There was also a note explaining how the tasting would run, what we needed and a bit of blurb about the gins.
Half an hour before the event, I surrounded my laptop with an assortment of glasses, recommended garnishes, and ice. Archie started by introducing himself and explaining a wee bit of the
history of Mother's Ruin. We settle in for a couple of hours of instruction, fun and, of course, gin - each one, we are informed, should be tried neat and then with the designated mixer.
First up is The Botanist produced on Islay, at the Bruichladdich Distillery (yes I know they make whisky they also make gin! It has 31 botanicals with 22 foraged on the island including bog myrtle, lady's bedstraw, mugwort and tansy along with juniper (all gin must have this berry). We nosed and sipped it neat, then with just a splash of Indian tonic, garnished with either grapefruit or thyme. I used the latter; a herby savouriness complements the already sweet, earthy notes.
We are then transported to the west coast of the USA to Pier 50 in San Francisco and 209 Distillery. A light tonic is recommended for this baby with a classic garnish of lemon or spice it up with green cardamom. It's silky smooth, well-balanced and what I'd
call a sipping gin, best drunk on the rocks. This turned out to be my favourite gin of the night (sorry Scotland).
Archie brings us firmly back onto Scottish soil with Brewdog's Lone Wolf G&T in a can. I found the Asian spices killed of the subtle complexities of the spirt. We are regaled with stories of the two founders and how they got funding to supply M&S with the now world-famous, beers.
Next up is the pretty-in pink Love gin by Eden Mill. A glass of fun-in-the-sun, it's sweetly floral and, with a splash of elderflower tonic and garnished with raspberries, strawberries, or redcurrants, it's one for sipping in the garden on a warm summer evening.
We end the evening with another Scottish gin, Darnley's Spiced from Kingsbarns Distillery. This is a gin that reminds me of cold winter nights sitting by a roaring fire. Ginger ale is the perfect mixer and lends itself to being made into a hot punch. The earthy spices of clove, cinnamon, ginger, and citrus are warming and comforting.
An excellent online tasting depends on the person orchestrating. They have to be engaging, funny, informative, knowledgeable and personable, all of which Archie is. A good storyteller, many of his anecdotes are from personal experiences, he often knows the people behind the bottle and can convey their tales in a fascinating and captivating way.
Luvian's will be running several tastings, including whisky and wine.