It’s a summer’s evening. The light falls long over the garden. Golden spears of sunlight glint through the branches of the tree, where a pre-slumberous pigeon is apparently doing its best to fall off its branch. Overhead, the swifts are crying.
In front of me: 5 tiny bottles of gin, a bowl of ice, a few garnishes, and the laptop – which is opening the link to a tasting video guide. Beside me, armed with a couple of bottles of mixers, is my partner-in-crime. Sorry. Husband.
We are ready for Home-Start’s Pinkster Gin Tasting Event (it’s a tough life, but someone’s got to do it).
Who or what is Pinkster Gin?
Pinkster Gin was created in 2013 by Stephen Marsh, who was searching for a sugar-free alternative to beer and wine. Stephen’s story can be found on the Pinkster website and it’s worth a watch. Partly because Stephen is a highly amusing storyteller, but also because the tale behind his creation is one of determination in the face of adversity – something we can all aspire to.
The gin is made with fresh raspberries (grown locally to the company’s HQ near Royston), giving it a delightful pink blush (a bit like my cheeks after the first glass).
So… what do the gins actually taste like?
The tasting guide, provided by Stephen via a pre-recorded video, takes you through the different drinks that Pinkster produces.
First, the Triple Juniper, which is their base gin. It’s the driest gin I’ve ever tasted, the Sahara of alcoholic drinks, and I’m not that keen on the first go, especially when it’s neat. But, add an ice cube, a dash of tonic water and a twist of orange peel and suddenly: I’m there. This is delicious.
Next stop is the Pinkster Gin itself. The gin is the palest of pale pinks, but you can really taste and smell the raspberries in it. There are also hints of pepper, possibly coriander seeds and other botanicals (Stephen refuses to divulge the actual ingredients in the gin, but it’s fun trying to guess).
Pinkster, we are told, is best served with a sprig of ‘well-spanked’ mint (yes, we sniggered too). Go on, you know you want to.
“Spanking” is the official term for gently bruising aromatic leaves to use in cooking and cocktails. Bruising the leaves releases the scent and intensifies the flavour. Try it. Lemon verbena. Lavender. Basil. Rosemary. Grab yourself a sprig and give it a good spanking; the smell is amazing.
Here’s a quick video tutorial:
Once we had recovered, we added our spanked herbal garnishes, and, as promised, it was delicious. Never mind Pimm’s No 1. This is definitely the kind of long drink you want on a hot summer’s day.
We paused the video and had second helpings.
Next on to the sweeter options.
Pinkster Royale is a wonderful deep cherry red, lower in alcohol than its parent, but much stronger in flavour. Royale is a gin liqueur: slightly stickier and fruitier than the regular Pinkster. It’s perfect in a glass of bubbly.
Then on to the Gimlet, which is the Pinkster Cocktail. A combination of Pinkster, Pinkster Royale, lime juice and sugar syrup, it’s sharp and sweet and definitely dangerous. You could easily down a large glass and only regret it when you try to stand up.
Finally, we moved on to the Hedgepig Liqueur. This is Pinkster’s range of gin liqueurs using hedgerow fruits, and we’ve been sent the Wild Bullace and Quince. Mixed with a dash of ginger ale and a twist of orange, it is absolutely sublime.
By the time we’ve finished, the sun has gone down almost completely, the bats are circling overhead and the solar lights are blinking into life. It’s also a bit chilly, but happily, I’ve now got a blanket of alcohol between me and the fresh air.
It’s nice just to sit in the twilight with the last of Royale, the enjoyment made even better knowing that this event is supporting two excellent (and local) enterprises: Pinkster Gin and Home-Start.
If you’re a gin fan, watch out for details of our next Pinkster event: a cocktail evening, coming soon!
Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of gin though, we have some other fab tasting experiences lined up over the next few months, such as an ale tasting from a local brewery, Rocket Ales, to a wonderful chocolate tasting experience from Hotel Chocolat, there’s something for everyone!