Hull Gin: back to (gin) school
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Come to Hull they said. There will be gin they said. My response? Where do I sign up?!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of joining 9 other bloggers to experience everything that Hull had to offer. Top of the list for me – no doubt – was Hotham’s Gin School, the home to Hull gin.
Tucked away in Hepworth’s Arcade – the only ‘L’ shaped arcade in the whole of the UK – is a little botanical treasure. Hotham’s Gin School is a working Hull gin distillery by day, but at the weekends it transforms into the very best kind of school. One that is filled with gin making.
Founded by Simon and Emma, this micro-distillery is quaint, beautiful and filled with the most amazing smells.
A WARM WELCOME
You may be wondering what you do at a gin school. The short answer is you make gin and drink! The long answer is that you get completely immersed in a world of botanicals and have a wonderful time creating your own unique blend of Hull gin.
On arrival you are greeted with a rather wonderfully tasting Hotham’s gin and tonic. You may as well start as you mean to go on after all.
From there you learn all about the world of botanicals and are invited over to a bench where you can smell and taste an enormous range of flavours on which to base your own gin blend. Working in pairs we got blending.
Myself and the fabulous Sarah from Champagne and Petals went with a summer meadow theme of light florals. Under the guidance of the lovely Emma from Hotham’s Gin School, we created our bespoke recipe for our very own gin. Once we measured out all our ingredients, we were ready to start.
I won’t lie, this was incredibly exciting, and we had a great time picking and choosing what to include.
MAKING OUR HULL GIN
Back out our workbenches we added our ingredients to the litre of spirit which was waiting for us in our still (a still named Heaton by the way). The next stage of the process is a lengthy one as you turn up the heat until it reaches 40 degrees, then turn it back down for 10 minutes to release the flavours. From there the heat is reapplied and the distillation process begins.
As this is going on, the Hotham’s Gin School team do an incredible job of keeping us all entertained with information about the arcade in which they are based, about the gin distillation process as well as of course serving another wonderful gin-based cocktail.
We were encouraged to taste our gin as it distilled as the botanicals in our recipe released their favours. It was amazing to taste our individual flavours as they emerged. Some wonderful and some not so great!
When we reached 600ml it was time to turn off our still and check our alcohol level; a rather daunting 80% at this stage. It took an entire 400ml to get it to a more respectable level of 45%.
We now have our unique blend of gin and it was an absolute giggle to get it to this stage. By now the entire room is a little giddy and having a wonderful time and it’s time to name and label our gins. We went with our initial plan of ‘summer meadow’ and we follow the Hotham’s team’s lead and finish our bottles with a stunning wax seal which really sets off our craft Hull gin’s beautifully.
OUR FINISHED HULL GIN
Now this is the stage where I would love to say that our gin was amazing. Beautifully blended with a wonderful aroma and smooth taste but……sadly that would be lying! More ‘eau du country poo’ than summer meadow, Emma assured Sarah and I that it would be a slow developer will taste wonderful in a few weeks once all the flavours have developed fully.
Our homework in the meantime is to taste our gin every day for the next 2 weeks to track how those flavours develop. Now, I don’t know about you but that’s the kind of homework that I can get on board with!
WHAT YOU GET
All in all this experience lasted around 3.5 hours. During that time you receive:
- Expert help in creating your recipe
- Access to a botanical bench filled with flavours
- A gin masterclass
- Distillation and bottling of 70cl customer made craft gin to take home
- Instruction on sealing and labelling your gin
- 3 x Hotham’s gin cocktails
- 3 x Hotham’s gin samples
WHAT I THOUGHT
If you haven’t guessed already, I absolutely loved our experience with Hotham’s Gin School. Fun and informative, the time we spent with the team flew by.
A treat for the senses, I think a gin school experience would be a wonderful gift for all ages. Simon and Emma really make the experience an enjoyable one. Friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable, their gentle encouragement and advice means that you are confident that you are going to come away with a perfectly drinkable bottle of gin.
If you enjoyed this post, they why not take a look at our days out section for more inspiration.
DISCLOSURE: we attended Hotham’s Gin School on a recent press trip hosted by Visit Hull.