The Great British Gin Festival: A Masterclass in Gin

Gin and tonic. Gin and lemonade. Gin and juice. However you drink yours, the juniper-based spirit was the tipple of choice at The Great British Gin Festival at the Pyramids on 9th March 2019. S&C’s new community events reviewer, Chelsea Cooper, reports.

I recently had the absolute pleasure of attending The Great British Gin Festival (GBGF) at the Portsmouth Pyramids Centre, and boy, did I have a good time!

You start your gin experience in a small group of other gin enthusiasts. You’re given a complimentary GBGF glass, a Gin Bible and a run down of how the festival works:

1. Look through your Bible

2. Find a gin that takes your fancy – there are, quite literally, hundreds to choose from!

3. Find the location of that gin and show them your glass

Simple! You buy your drinks in the form of drink tokens, much like a normal festival. The bars are cash-free, just flash them your card and they give you a drink. All drinks came with a choice of tonic, diet tonic or lemonade and a garnish that pairs well with the gin you’ve chosen. The bar staff were on hand to offer suggestions of mixers depending on your palate and were even happy to let you take a quick Boomerang of them pouring your drink for you. And I love a good Boomerang almost as much as I love a good gin!

Image credit: Chelsea Cooper.

As if that wasn’t enough, a whole range of different gin companies – including new local distillery, Portsmouth Fort Gin, recommended – were offering tasters and comprehensive information on all their gins. This was a great opportunity to sample some drinks from around the world without buying a whole glass.

Two food vendors offered festival-goers some amazing street food, which was handy to soak up the alcohol, and overall the atmosphere inside the Pyramids Centre was very relaxed. Everyone was having a good time either laid out on the faux grass floor playing giant jenga, or standing around tables chatting with friends and tasting each others drinks.

Image credit: Chelsea Cooper.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that drinking is all that happens at the Festival.

There were talks throughout the day, from gin cocktail masterclasses – where you had the opportunity to taste the cocktails made – and learning how gin is made, to talks from individual craft gin creators. My favourite for the day was Mermaid Gin, this might be because deep down I think I might actually be one.

And to top it all off their was Jaycee, a fabulous live band performing cover songs from Chuck Berry’s Johnny B.Goode, The Fratellis Chelsea Dagger to Status Quo’s Rocking All Over The World. There was music to suit everyone’s taste.

The whole afternoon gave off a really chilled festival vibe. With the live music, delicious smells from the food vendors and everyone merry-making, you can expect me back next year with an improved knowledge of the nation’s current favourite intoxicant. I’ll be rocking my Great British Gin Festival tee!

Image credit: Chelsea Cooper.


Find out more

The Pyramids: website and Facebook

Jaycee: on Facebook and on their website.

Great British Gin Festival at Eventbrite and on Facebook.

The Portsmouth Distillery Co., makers of Fort Gin, made with love at Fort Cumberland: website, Facebook and Twitter.


Don’t forget to keep following Chelsea Cooper, our new Community Reviewer – follow us on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to read her reviews as they’re published.