Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th June was my 5th Junipalooza. It was without doubt the best yet. A real evolution from last years London event, the core of Junipalooza was hugely present with some welcomed tweaks and even a new entrance. Walking down the steps with the view of the ships at Tobacco Dock, it felt nice and open, less crowded and rushed than previous visits – yet retaining the thriving atmosphere.
The Newcomers Zone, while initially felt a little out of the way, I quickly realised why. This was a little event in itself! Having them all in their own area, with their own stands, I spend a long time here chatting and tasting the Gins, all hugely different and equally brilliant. Thankfully I saved this for Sunday.
Unfortunately I sacrificed going to any of the experientials – but the feedback on these were great! Tom Warner’s stage presence and Barekstens Forrest was all I kept hearing about!!
It makes my head hurt the amount of work that I know goes into this beast – let alone all the stuff I don’t. Olivier and Emile Ward from Gin Foundry literally have Junipalooza on their agenda 365 days a year…and the results paid off more than ever this year. Well done gentleman – you completely nailed it.
So I thought it was a good idea to do a little round up of all the exhibitors I managed to get to over the three sessions.
First of all, it is impossible to get round everyone. Even after three sessions (and not drinking at each one) I still didn’t manage everyone. But that isn’t the point, the point is to plan on who is in your must-visit stands, ensure you make it to these and anything else is a bonus.
Below is everywhere I managed to get to – in alphabetical order to scroll down to see if I visited your favourite!! I make no apology for the length of this post!
Another local distillery to me, and I’m very familiar with the range. But I’d heard there was something I hadn’t tried so I couldn’t miss it! I’m struggling to keep up with their Limited Editions! But I like a challenge – next on offer was the Lemon and Tamarind! Yep, loved it…need another taste!!!
How the hell Bruce and I hadn’t met was criminal. We’ve spoken so much over social media, but it was great to see him in action. Hugely passionate, generous and still on his journey of learning – Brentingby now boasts an impressive 4 products. No mean feat when you’re as young as this distillery. The cask aged was a welcomed addition for some, however I particularly LOVED the Black Edition. Also, I’ll 100% be getting the Gin Slushie recipe from Bruce!
After a huge transformation, the Lonewolf has a new face – and it looks awesome. They were also showcasing the brand new Cloudy Lemon Gin – a citrusy spin on their main gin. Familiar Lonewolf taste could JUST about be found under the bright and zesty Lemon. I completely missed the Zealots Heart, so will be keeping an eye on that when it’s released!
The first of a fair few Aussie distilleries, it was great to catch up finally with Eddie. A well established distillery in Byron Bay – I had the pleasure of tasting the headline gin back in 2017. I loved seeing these guys here in the U.K. – and people were really enjoying their Gin. I tasted the Slow Gin, which was rich in flavour, not your usual colour – but that didn’t matter – it was gorgeously dry, with a lasting fruitiness.
Popped over to see the gents of Bullards on Saturday, with Peter and Rory behind the stand. Having met Peter several years ago, it’s great to hear how pleased he is with the new distillery. It was also amazing to finally meet Rory (great name) and hear about his ambitions and test distillations going on behind the scenes.
What a sensory delight this was! Trying the three blends, all delightfully different – I love how versatile all the distillates are, and combining them all together to create something special – the possibilities are literally endless!
At last, to finally come face to face with Tom and have him run through their products was a real treat. Some crazy ideas that just WORK. Not a case of shoving a few random things together and hoping for the best, but a carefully thought out process using past experiences to create some genuinely great Gins. Bravo!
This was on my MUST visit – as I first tasted Hills & Harbour Gin and quickly put it in my top Gins of 2018. To meet the guys behind such an amazing distillery just enhanced my whole view on it. Also, their distilled cocktail was a wee bit specialty too!
Dartmouth English Gin
What a guy Lance is! Great to put a face to the name, this has really stuck with me since I tasted in Ginvent and in April – think I’ll put this in the Final 16 for Gin of the Year 2019…it really is, such a quality Gin.
Now, if anyone knows how to kill it, it’s these guys. From start to finish, they, along with whoever was at their stand, were having a blast! Alongside the favourite Renegade Gin, some fresh looking bottles stood proudly on their stand. Their Sidewayz Project Sloe Gin was joined by a delicious Damson Gin, along with some stunning labels. Awesome liquids poured, visitors were encouraged to get a pic with these crazy wigs and guitar – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed flicking through the pictures!!!
Bursary spot holders with their Explorers Gin – certainly proved popular all weekend. Was delighted to wander over to be greeted by an absolute gent – Hugh, who poured this delectable liquid in my glass – the results: outstanding.
Duck and Crutch
Christ, these guys were busy. Managed to steal Hollie and George at a rare quiet period to insta-fanboy a little bit. For me, as a tiny scale shed distiller, I really look up to these guys who create some banging Gin in such a small space. Finally tasting their gins I was delighted they tasting awesome. They even brought their shed!!
You’re always in for a treat if you can get to this stand. Stu was on form as always, working the crowd and pouring some awesome drinks. For me, I made a sidestep to the legend Joe, who poured me the 2019 Bloody Shiraz. We agreed the colour was outrageous, as was the taste. I’ll be getting a bottle of this ASAP to add to the BS collection!
Gower Gin Company
These guys made seriously good gin. Seriously good. On top of this, just the nicest and welcoming people Siân and Andrew – making them hugely popular this weekend. It’s no surprise they were rushed off their feet! Another contender for Gin of the Year 2019…
It has been several years since Vic and I met – it was great to see her back in the game. Her headline Gin was, as always, going down a treat. However it didn’t take me long to notice two little unbranded bottles…two new Gins. Oh my…they were outstanding! Keep your eyes peeled for these little beauties!!
Another one of my early connections – I was thrilled to see Will standing proudly at the GSR stand. The sheer hard work and meticulous detail results in some really special spirits. I had to have a little taste of the PX Cask…again…it will always be great.
After only gliding past last year, I managed to spend a bit more time this year getting to know the wonderful Hapusa. Some mouth-watering snacks along with the mouth-watering gin – I’m so glad I revisited this little gem.
Despite being at every Junipalooza – I always make the effort to stop and say hi. I’m always fascinated to know which of their range is going down well on the day – but it was no surprise the stars often show were the new Hopped Gin and the even newer Gin Liqueur!
No Junipalooza is complete without a quick de-tour to Jon’s stand. Not just to have a whiff of the Juniper Cask, but a little source had told me they had something new. Briefly rested in Rum casks – this gorgeous little fella was an unexpected treat on Sunday!
When I could finally get to their stand, it’s always a pleasure to catch up with incredbile Jenny. Both her and her friend Chris were absolutely smashing it out of the park. People were in love with the Aranami (as am I) which was selling like hot cakes. Well done to those guys for having a great second Junipalooza!
A brief visit here, thankfully I’ve got a bottle to sample properly – however it was certainly a striking gin. Really bright flavours from a familiar cubeb and quite a lasting heat from memory – leaving your mouth warm after tasting. I’m thinking Martini for this, so can’t wait to start experimenting!
Not initially on my radar, after speaking to several people it was clear I needed to make my way over to them. Both drinks were banging. But what took it to the next level – was the cork! Gorgeous yet familiar aroma – Juniper!! Tarvo guided me through the blended Gin and Summer Edition – both excellent.
I think after last years success, I couldn’t believe how (even more) delicious the latest cask aged expression (Banyuls) – it was unbelievable, a whole new beast!! Great to see the rest of the core range was still being sipped and enjoyed.
As I said to the lovely Jim and his team – it was a travesty I hadn’t tasted their gin. I kept seeing it all over social media and never had the pleasure. Brand ambassador Steph sorted that pretty quickly and I realised what all the hype was about. Excited to have another taste, but just a real quality Gin!!!
After what seems like a lifetime after I saw them in Melbourne 2017, it’s makes me so happy to see them over here in the U.K. Catching up with David, Manly Spirits have hit the ground sprinting since their U.K. launch! It was enough to convince we to go back to Oz next year!
Not Isle of Wight Distillery’s first Junipalooza, but introducing the world to their Mermaid Gin and of course the newly iconic bottle, I was pleased to quickly nab Xav and get updated with the huge progress these guys have made over the past 12 months. Big things coming…big things.
Actually my first visit of the whole event. Why? I was deeply intrigued. I wasn’t sure on the branding initially, so I really wanted to put that aside, meet the people behind it and give it a proper taste. The result? A surprising highlight. The Gin is REALLY good, very much to my personal taste – spicy, resinous and loud.
Easily my most heavily recommended stand of the show. Anyone who I spoke to, I encouraged them to stop by these guys. Again, back in 2017 I first met the gents behind the incredible Never Never. Their Juniper Freak will probably sit in my favourite few Gins of all time – and most seemed to agree.
Another from the Newcomers Zone that really stuck with me. Daniel explained the rules and regs in Hungary and how they have overcome them – this, along with a belter of a gin, puts them in good stead for a prosperous future, both here in the UK and beyond!
Martin was ready and waiting, after a few Twitter exchanges we’d had over the weeks and months – he certainly says it how it is! The Trinity was my highlight earlier this year, and it seems the crowd were in agreement – the simplicity of it – bringing back the reason we love gin.
Really loved this Gin neat. Some familiar flavours going on – particularly the Tassie Pepperberry, but they vacuum distilled it bringing a new experience for me. Gorgeous yellow bottle aside, this is one for me to revisit just to have a little play around with as I’m sure there is more to just having it in the humble G&T…
Another Aussie beauty – LOVED speaking with Nicole, just another reason for me to go back! Everything was just spot on for me – Gin, branding and people – I’ll be keeping a close eye on them..Shiraz Gin (little bit different from our other fave) and House Gin were just divine.
With their “Darkside” gin being showcased – this was yet another example of some of the loveliest people at the show. Proving compounded Gin can be delicious – Tappers hit the spot, any they’ve made me very excited for their upcoming “Lightside” !
Time Anchor Distillery
South African Distillery, home to Mirari Gin, was my final stop of the weekend. Knowing absolutely nothing about them, after a lengthy chat with founder Shanna-Rae – my eyes were opened! While initially I was concerned about some of the colours, this was quickly overcome by the sheer flavour of the products. Really tasty, huge depth and carefully thought out. For example, their Pink Damask Rose isn’t as sweet or perfumed as I was expecting – its meticulously balanced and packed full of flavour!
Celebrating their 1st birthday, you couldn’t miss the balloons! Two of the loveliest people, brilliant Gin and a year under their belts – it seems to have been another good Junipalooza for them! Even found them in the exact same spot as last year!
Again, after frequent social media interaction – another must visit was ticked off the list. I was delighted to taste the new Old Tom – it was awesome. Now, I need to plan a little trip to York!