A Gin Festival In Manchester's Old Victorian Bath
When the Easter Bank Holiday is approaching and you're offered the chance to visit the UK's biggest Gin Festival there's not much that can get in your way. Set in Victoria Baths over two weekends in Manchester, you have the opportunity to sample hundreds of gins all under one roof for a very reasonable £5 a glass with a recommended accompanying tonic and garnish. Not only that but you can also head into the sample room to meet a few of the distillers (there were about 6 in there when we visited) where you can sample their gins free of charge.
As the event is sponsored by Schweppes all tonics are their own, and they even have their own tonic bar where you can go and try their standard tonics along with some weird and wonderful ones for free - salty lemon tonic anyone? You get handed your copa gin glass on entry and that's yours for the day with the option to take it home for free too if you'd like. We can quickly see our cupboard at home becoming full of gin festival glasses much like our collection of Leeds Beer Fest glasses - they're too pretty to throw away and such a good memento as the Leeds ones are all dated with an accompanying Drew Millward illustration.
For us, the standout gin of the day had to be PJ elderflower gin with cucumber tonic water, one we'll be picking up for summer because it's the perfect BBQ drink - light and refreshing! Others worth a shoutout had to be the delicately sweet Puerto De Indias Strawberry Gin and the Brockmans Premium Gin which is packed with bold botanicals and berry essences.
So would we go again? Yes, definitely! Is there anything we'd change? It'd be great to see more branded up distillers manning the main area between the bars, and although you can't fault Victoria Baths for its beauty, it'd also be nice to see the gin festival returning to a venue closer to the centre of Manchester because it's quite far if you're heading back into the centre for food or drinks after.