The city of London might have been littered with gin distilleries during the gin craze in the 18th century, these days there is only one. And one that is worth a visit. I was recently invited to come to the City of London Distillery for a gin tasting and a tour.
The distillery, which also houses a cocktail bar, is located in a small alley just off Fleet Street. It is hard to miss, but just look out for a door with a wolf's head and some empty bottles of wine.
I was a bit early, but was welcomed with a delicious gin based cocktail while I waited for the start of the event. The bar has that English living room feel to it and oozes coziness. Great for those first dates of which I think I spotted a few around the room.
The tasting was held in a back room which was kitted out with lots of gin paraphernalia. Old school stills, jars with gin ingredients and even bottles of pretty much every single gin brand in the world.
After a brief peek into the history of gin, our host Alfie invited us to try the first one which was the Old Tom. I thought it tasted a bit like nail polish remover, but apparently I was tasting it all wrong. You're supposed to swirl it around your mouth before swallowing and I did detect the coriander and angelica root. It was a lot tastier after I added the tonic to it.
Next up was the Square Mile gin, which was nicer and had a citrus kick to it. Again with the added tonic, I loved it even more.
The last one was the Christoper Wren which comes in a bottle shaped like St Paul's Cathedral. This one was created by mast gin distiller Tom Nichol, who also created a gin of a different brand. Again this one tasted better with added tonic.
We were sent home with a miniature bottle of the City of London sloe gin, which, you guessed it, tasted wonderful with gin.
I had a lovely evening tasting and learning more about gin, but to me it's a mystery how men, women and even children drank pure gin back in the early 1700s. I love it only with a measure of tonic.