I love Junipalooza – it’s no secret, I’ve said this before – it’s my favourite gin show. However Junipalooza is huge – 45 different gin makers & distillers and hundreds of gins to sample. Daunted much? Well don’t be – this guide will help you work out what to see & taste!
*Full disclosure, I’ve worked with Junipalooza in the past. however all opinions are my own and I’ve bought my own tickets!*
Gin guide to Junipalooza 2022
My guide to Junipalooza 2022 includes:
- Planning your visit
- Where to start
- Katie’s recommendations
- Spirits Kiosk
- Get your tickets!
1 – Planning your visit
First off – getting there!
Junipalooza has been hosted at Tobacco Dock’s for the last few years, at the junction of Wapping Lane and Pennington Street E1.
The closest tube link is the Overground station at Wapping, Tower Hill is a bit of a further walk, but can be pretty via St Katharine’s dock and there are also several bus routes that stop nearby. I generally use Citymapper or Google Maps to work out the easiest way to get there. For obvious reasons they don’t recommend driving… this is a drinks festival!
The entry point is usually the door nearest the canal – near the ship, so you can’t miss it! You’ll usually see the queue ahead of the doors opening as everyone wants to be at the front and get in first.
Before you go to your session make sure you’ve eaten and drunk – be fully hydrated with your stomach lined to ensure that you don’t fall foul of the many samples. Spitting is also encouraged and there are spittoons dotted around the venue where you can offload unwanted drinks also. I do try and start by spitting, just so that I don’t get drunk and can appreciate the flavours of the gins I’m trying.
You can bring bottles of water in with you and it’s encouraged. There will be top up stations and water available at each stand too. You can’t bring alcohol in with you and don’t turn up drunk.
There is no cloakroom, so pack light! It’s worth noting that you can buy all gins from Spirits Kiosk, so you don’t have to carry them around from stand to stand.
There are several street food options this year – check out the Junipalooza Instagram account to see what they have to offer, there are also plenty of places to eat before or after sessions in the local area. You can’t bring your own food in.
Going solo can be great – as a gin geek I love to discuss the nitty gritty with the distillers and my friends sometimes get bored of that… However it’s always best to have a friend you can share the experience with and compare notes with.
2 – Where to start?!
There are 2 schools of thought for this. As it’s a large space the first method is to start the furthest from the door. Generally people who haven’t planned will start at the stands nearest the entrance, however if you go straight to the furthest room you are likely to be the only people there for the first 5-10 minutes, so more time to talk with distillers and sample gins.
The second method is to target the distiller or stand you want to visit the most and head there first – again to get ahead of the crowd and make sure you complete that important tasting. For me this would actually be the newcomers room, where the newest entrants to the market will be. The reason for this is because it’s a relatively small room with small stands and allows you to sample and get their stories before it becomes crowded.
Overall there are 6 rooms at Junipalooza 2022, a central hall where the entrance is (with some more stands), the masterclass room and also the Spirits Kiosk shop. So you can see there is a lot to cover:
3 – Katie’s Junipalooza 2022 recommendations
My route will look something like this:
- Newcomer’s room to start. Here I’ve only heard of one of the distilleries – Henley and their gin is a flavour bomb of lemongrass citrus, so definitely one to check out, along with the artwork on their bottles.
- Purple room – the furthest from the entrance. Here I would revisit 135 East Gin, who were at last year’s festival and I also want to try Pembroke Gin.
- Masterclass – a chance to sit down, learn about gin and also taste at the same time! I’m signed up for the (free) masterclass ‘The biggest trends in gin’. More on masterclasses below.
- Then I’ll make my way through the green room, where there are plenty of gins that I’ve tried before. One’s you shouldn’t miss include Herno – a very unique and distinctive gin that’s award winning for a reason; Manly Spirits from Australia, with a great range and bottle you won’t forget; Colombo from Sri Lanka, make sure to taste their Navy Strength; Crafty distillery, showcasing fabulous products and their new bottle design; and Jonomade, who were in the newcomers last year, with flavour packed gins and a great story.
- If I didn’t stop at ALL those stands then I might make it to the biggest room, the yellow room. Here there are lots of old friends to see, but my top three are Gower Gin who are bringing all new products for Junipalooza, including the official gin for World Martini Day 2022! Then Hapusa from India, I met up with Anand when I was in Delhi; and finally I recommend trying Boatyard, Double Juniper and their Old Tom gin are both amazing.
- If I’m still going at this stage then it’s the final red and orange rooms. In the red room I would definitely visit Never Never from Australia, they are doing unique things and all their gins are super juniper forward. Also Mackintosh, Brighton Gin and Broken Bones are worth a visit.
- In the orange room I would definitely visit Biggar from Scotland – all of their gins are tasty, I love their Navy strength and their cask aged. And Four Pillars are always worth a chat with – Stuart will entertain you! I’m also hoping they will have their Yuzu gin with them.
- On my way out I’ll try and visit 44 degrees N gin – a beautiful bottle with a premium price tag, so definitely one I would want to try before I invested!
So that sounds like a lot – and it is, so this is why you need to plan. I’ve highlighted my top gins, so I recommend you making a list of which are your top ones and focusing on visiting them.
4 – Masterclasses
In order for me to cover every gin I want to try and meeting all my old friends, I’m going for every session over the weekend, Saturday 11am-3pm, 4-8pm and the longer Sunday session 11am – 4pm. This means I have time to do a couple of Olivier’s masterclasses, which will be a welcome chance to sit down for half an hour. The masterclasses will include distillers, gin judges and category experts for panel discussions and there will be gin samples to try also.
From conversations about starting up and how gin distilleries evolve, to life after the Newbie tag wares off, to upcoming trends that will influence drinkers in the UK and how to judge quality at an elite level – it’s a packed scheduled with loads of different speakers to get a varied and insightful perspective.
The topics include:
- The biggest trends in gin
- Navigating the first 6 months
- What happens when you are no longer new?
- Going for gold –
Masterclasses are free and if you want to join a particular topic, it’s best to pre-book to make sure you can get in. (Remember you need a Junipalooza ticket to be able to access the masterclasses).
5 – Spirits Kiosk shop
As I mentioned earlier, you can buy all the gins available at Junipalooza at the Spirits Kiosk stand. So no need to carry bottles around – also all ticket holders get a £5 discount, both during the festival and afterwards from their website. Make sure to note which gins you liked and you can order them to be delivered to your home – what’s better than that?!
6 – Get your tickets!
To enjoy everything mentioned above make sure to book your Junipalooza tickets.
Sessions run Saturday 11th June (World Gin Day!) 11am – 3pm and 4pm – 8pm and Sunday 12th June 11am-4pm.
If you get in quick then Wowcher currently has a deal on for £17 a ticket instead of £30, or £28 for 2 tickets, but get in quick before they sell out!
So tell me, which gin or distillery are you most looking forward to visiting?