As you may have seen from my Instagram, I spent a weekend in Copenhagen recently. I was invited to attend and cover the Copenhagen Gin Festival 2018, here is my review!
*note that my tickets for the Copenhagen Gin Festival were free in exchange for my honest review*
Big thank you to Jacob from @copenhagenginfest for inviting me to attend this weekend. @travelwithalaine and I had a great time and @danishboyinlondon even managed to join us! . So many gins, so little time – but great to meet some new brands, say hi to old friends and also meet some instagrammers in real life! . #copenhagenginfest2018 #copenhagen #denmark #danishgin #ginclubouting #whatskatiedoingblog
Copenhagen Gin Festival 2018
The space in the industrial Lokomotivvaerkstedet hall is vast, but that’s OK, as there were plenty of brands to fill the space.
We checked our coats and got ready to taste some gin with our complementary copa glasses – quality and class:
I wanted to try out all the brands that I hadn’t tried before, however I was unable to complete this wish despite best efforts…
I went with Alaine from Travel with Alaine and she was pacing herself – not really being a gin connoisseur like me. For the second session (yes we did two sessions!) my flatmate Michael also joined us. They both had ideas on what gins to try and who to meet, so the overall plan got thrown out of the window lol!
I also managed to meet a lot of Danish instagrammers in real life (I kinda gatecrashed their influencer meet up between sessions!). It was great to meet the father and daughter behind Marholt Gin, Jon from The Gin Quest, Henrik (& Henrik?) from Gintossen, Gin Turtles, Why Not Gin, Gin Can Do.dk, Gin Mops (i.e. gin pugs! But I didn’t meet the pugs), Lulu, Gin Clouds and En Verden Af Gin.
My initial impressions were that this was a well-run festival. From the ticket check, to coat check, to glasses and glass washing provided, all was good. The only things that I thought could be better is the provision of water and food.
There were two food stalls, a South Indian one which provided hearty curries catering for all; and a typically Danish hot dog and chips (crisps is what they mean here!), which also did paninis for vegetarians. We picked up some water from the curry place, but there wasn’t anywhere apart from the food stalls to buy water.
There was also some gin-inspired treats like gin ice-cream frozen on dry ice in front of us – this caused quite a stir!
Moving on to the important bit:
What gins did we try I hear you ask? Well we started off aptly with one called Danish Fuel. Their USP is that they don’t bottle it – they use a petrol can (or olive oil can?!) instead.
The premium gin’s main botanicals are rose and Danish apples – the floral notes from the rose definitely open up when tonic is added. The vintage gin had raspberry as the key botanical, but it wasn’t overly fruity or sweet, still a very much juniper led gin.
The gins were served with Qyuzu tonic which has the Japanese Yuzu citrus instead of the traditional lemon based one, something I’ve not tried before, but I definitely like the flavour.
This gin from Sweden has won medals for best gin & tonic and outstanding G&T at the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).
- The regular gin has cardamom as a key botanical, which reminded Alaine of the Swedish fika buns! This is also one of my favourite gin botanicals.
- The Rose is the same gin aged for 4-6 days in red wine barrels.
- The Gold is aged for 60 days in calvados barrels – you can really taste the difference in the depth of the flavour.
Moletto tomato gin
This gin is made with 2 botanicals – juniper and tomato. They only use the ripest tomatoes and this really comes through on the flavour – so tomatoey! Apparently the distiller got the idea one day when eating tomato soup for lunch. It’s not the first tomato gin I’ve tried – but I think it’s the best. This would be great for a red snapper or for spicing up a gazpacho.
Ki no bi
This Japanese gin is blended from separately distilled botanicals in order to keep the flavour consistent. At 45.7% it’s strong but doesn’t come across as such. They serve it with a lemon garnish to complement the yuzu and other subtle Japanese flavours.
This Irish gin is made with 8 botanicals. These include grains of paradise and something I’ve not heard of before called Sweet Gale. These guys were very happy to be launching Boatyard gin at the Bird and Church Key bar later that night – fortunately for us as we wanted to visit!
The Nyborg gins are created to evoke ‘moods’ that you’ll experience in Denmark. These include Dew, Frost and Mist.
- Dew is to evoke the end of a summer evening when the dew starts setting. It’s delicate and dainty, with violets, elderflower and cucumber making a sweeter and divine G&T.
- Frost evokes those cold crisp mornings when the air outside tears into your lungs. Peppermint and eucalyptus create this refreshing cooling sensation. I would pair this with a grapefruit tonic, or just serve on ice.
- Mist evokes the feeling of fog rolling in from the sea. As this may suggest, it’s a Navy Strength gin at 57%. The distiller describes it as follows:
‘if the colour aquamarine was a gin, this would be it’
It contains 2 different kinds of seaweed and saltwort – the most expensive ingredient in Denmark.
Watch my video review from the festival:
Icelandic Eagle gin
A “Viking” gin from Iceland. The two main flavours in this are juniper and orange, smooth and light. Served with 1724 tonic it’s a sweeter style G&T.
Whitley Neill Blood Orange
A new release from the UK company, focusing on the seasonal Blood Oranges. I do love orange as a citrus flavour and there have been many orange based gins come on to the market recently. (see Malfy and also Copenhagen Gin).
This works so well as focus flavour and will be good as a summer drink. I could see this easily being a pimped up G&T or even the base for a summer cup garnished with lots of lovely zest. But for this time of year the serve has to be a blood orange negroni!
This award winning Danish gin is made with Sea Buckthorn berries. It has a great balance between juniper, citrus and coriander.
To be fair I’m not sure I got the more delicate flavours from the Sea Buckthorn as I didn’t try it neat. However with tonic this is a great gin. Light and vibrant with loads of lovely orange and citrus notes. I’m fairly sure they were telling the locals in Danish that this was the ‘perfect gin’!
Nordisk make several gins with the aim of bottling Nordic adventures!
- Northstar gin is inspired by Nordic nature. Botanicals include Icelandic angelica, Swedish Cloudberries, Greenlandic qajaasat and wild rose petals from Denmark. I really liked the floral notes in this award winning gin.
- Sarek gin is inspired by Swedish Lapland and includes birch leaves. To me it evokes a sauna because of the birch!
- Sloe gin – a very palatable sloe gin that is made with nettles and camomile.
- Marsal no.31 – this gin was made by the same people for a private client, so we were privileged to try it at the festival!
Another Danish gin all their products are 100% organic. Not only do they make a range of gin, but they also make whisky.
- London dry gin. An IWSC silver award winning gin, it has a great mouth feel from the almond and a spicy sweetness that finishes with citrus. Basically it ticks all my boxes! I tried this with Bon Accord tonic, which was the first time I’d tried it. A tonic that lets the gin shine through.
- GinGin, double barrelled because of the double juniper. This one packs a juniper punch as the flavour will come through in a cocktail or a light gin and tonic (light because you don’t need as much gin to get the same flavour, it’s also 46% so a lot stronger in alcohol as well as taste!)
- Red Love gin. This gin is named after the local apples (you see a theme here?!). Except instead of using them as a botanical in the main distillation they add a mash of the Red Love apple post distillation. This gives the gin its colour as well as it’s flavour, which is sweet from the addition of vanilla. The perfect serve for this is a cocktail with 1 part to 2 champagne.
- Oak cask aged gin. They age the gin in a mixture of bourbon and sherry casks for 8-9 months, creating caramel notes. Perfect served with a garnish of orange on ice, or make it a longer drink served with ginger ale.
Bareksten Norwegian gin
This is a complex gin with 26 botanicals including blueberries for a forest smell, lingonberries and rose root. It’s a slow distillation at a low ABV to keep the delicate flavours. This results in a lovely smooth mouthfeel.
- Dry gin – this was actually their second gin released. It’s a smooth and easy drinking dry gin.
- Con Limone – this is the original release packed with lemons from the Almafi coast. A great citrus taste perfect for summer days or cocktails.
- Blood Orange – the latest release and bang on blood orange season! This is made with both the peel and juice of the blood orange. The vacuum distillation process means that the colour comes through to the end. This isn’t just an orange taste, it also has spicy notes, to make this a complex gin. I really want to try this one in a negroni!
Isfjord Artic gin
This gin is cut using the water from Greenland icebergs, making it super pure and smooth. Easy to drink on its own due to the smoothness.
Their Danish London Dry (which sounds like a contradiction, but read more about gin types here) includes rosemary, black pepper, apple, camomile, fennel seed and liquorice root. This creates a strongly flavoured gin that works really well with tonic, the floral notes open up with tonic.
Herbie also have their Virgin spirit – i.e. alcohol free, read more on that below…
We also tried the Herbie barrel aged negroni, made with one part Herbie gin, one part elderflower liqueur and mondino amaro. I was in my happy place with this! The addition of the liqueur makes this a lighter drink than a regular negroni – a great take on the classic aperitivo cocktail.
Kongsgaard raw gin
Kongsgaard were selling bottles hand over fist, when I saw them! One of the very busy stands, I managed to grab a couple of minutes with Soren and he explained that they distill all their ingredients separately and blend these together. They also use Danish apples as one of their 11 botanticals, I can see a theme developing with the Danish gins!
Obviously I had to mention Copenhagen Gin! I went and said hi to the guys on the stand, but I have a whole post coming about my visit to their distillery on the Friday afternoon. So keep your eyes peeled for that!
Some favourites that I revisited:
- Boutiquey gin co was represented (naturally!) and had their roasted pinapple gin for tasting. Having just turned one, Boutiquey is known for pushing the boundaries of traditional gin flavours, even having sent botanicals to the moon! The roasted pineapple is nothing like any gin you’ve tried before – it totally takes me to a tropical place!
- Brooklyn gin – a classy bottle and it tastes as good as I remember from tasting at my local pub The Colonel Fawcett
- Scapegrace – I’ve tried this in London as well as in New Zealand! They also had their Gold gin at the festival, which has extra tangerine in it.
- Bloody Shiraz from Four Pillars. The whole Four Pillars range was represented but my favourite is the Bloody Shiraz.
- Bobby’s Schiedam Dry gin. I first tried this gin at a tasting at The Oliver Conquest – you can read more about Bobby’s gin here.
- Ford’s gin – made for bartenders, check out how they mapped the flavours to the different cocktails you can make. This was definitely made with scientific precision!
- Napue gin from Kyro Distillery in Finland – a great smooth gin and they were presenting some premixed cocktails as alternatives to the G&T serve.
And finally, those that aren’t really gin….
This spirit is only 33%, so from a European legislation perspective can’t be classified as gin. It’s lower ABV so they could get the flavour profile they wanted. It doesn’t hurt that this apparently makes it lower calorie!
Herbie Virgin – alcohol free spirit
Or what to drink if you’re not drinking? Whilst Seedlip have become big in the UK with their non-alcoholic distilled spirit, it was never going to be long before others jumped into this market. Whilst Seedlip doesn’t really taste of gin (lacking the juniper led kick!), Herbie does have juniper. The other main botanical is apples. I liked this neat, but everyone else I was with loved it with tonic. This is a great gin replacement for those who aren’t drinking or can’t drink.
Copenhagen Gin Festival: the verdict
I really enjoyed myself at the gin festival despite missing out on Elg gin (their stand was packed the whole 6 hours I was there!). Copenhagen gin festival runs over Friday & Saturday in February and they usually have a discount code for local hotels (or else Airbnb it! read more on my Copenhagen guide coming soon), so you can make a weekend of it like we did.
Keep your eyes peeled for next years festival dates and if you want to travel for your gin tasting before then, check out Junipalooza, coming to London in June, Hamburg in September and Melbourne in October. Click here to book for World Gin day 9th June at Junipalooza London (note this is an affiliate link which helps keep Katie in gin and travel money!)
As you may have figured I brought back a lot of gin from my trip to Copenhagen. My gin shelf at home is now significantly overloaded! So to lighten it I’ve decided to give away 2 bottles of ‘gin’ from my experience in Denmark, the Ginscape award winning Danish gin, made with Sea Buckthorn and for the non drinkers the Herbie Virgin ‘gin’.
Head on over to Instagram to enter – simply follow @whatskatiedoing and comment on the post with which of Ginscape or Herbie Virgin you would prefer and who you would share it with!
My review of @copenhagenginfest is now LIVE on the blog! . Even better is that I’m giving away not one but TWO bottles that I picked up in Copenhagen, @ginscape award winning Danish gin and @herbiegin Virgin spirit (ie alcohol free) – read more about these gins on the blog post . To enter simply follow me @whatskatiedoing and comment below 👇 with which bottle you’d like to win and who you would share it with! . Competition ends Friday 30th March 2018, UK residents and over 18s only, not affiliated with Instagram. . #copenhagenginfestival #herbiegin #herbievirgin #ginscapegin #whitleyneillbloodorangegin #copenhagenbreak #copenhagen🇩🇰 #ginfestival2018 #whatskatiedoingblog #ginclubouting #gintasting #ginandtonic #gin #ginblogger #københavendanmark
Competition ends on Friday 30th March 2018, UK residents and over 18’s only, not affiliated with Instagram.