Last weekend, I was kindly invited along to the TrueOriGINS Gin Festival with my friend, Holly, to spend the day drinking gin in Banchory. Of course, I said yes!
What is TrueOrigins?
TrueOriGINS is actually an Aberdeenshire based business set up by two brothers who are dedicated to sharing the best local Scottish gins from around the country.
It’s a relatively new venture for the brothers who started these festivals around Scotland in 2017. This year, they kicked off their gin tour in Banchory, Aberdeenshire and are set to do the same in Edinburgh, Inverurie, and Glasgow in the upcoming months.
On arrival, we were greeted with a warm smile, a branded gin glass and a little booklet containing information on all the gins available throughout the day.
The event is cashless, so we were advised to pick up a cashless card that we could top up during the day or download their app. I liked the idea of this because it made buying drinks incredibly straightforward and if you only want to spend a certain amount during the day, this is entirely possible. I know myself that if I hand over my card to a bartender, I lose track of what I’m spending and end up blowing my account…
There were 8 different stalls to choose from, each containing different drinks from around Scotland, such as Aberdeenshire, The Highlands, Glasgow, Edinburgh etc. The choice was brilliant. Each bartender was happy to share their knowledge of the gins they were serving which I appreciated.
We tried a fair few gins over the afternoon, so instead of boring you with them all, I’m going to share my top picks:
This is an Aberdeenshire gin that was created in spring 2018. It has an essence of local honey, clover pollen and willow herb. Paired with tonic and fresh raspberries, this was a lovely, refreshing drink to start off our day. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I do particularly like a fun gin bottle and this certainly has one.
Solway Spirits Cortes Gin
This is a vanilla and elderflower infused gin that is created in a town called Annan within Dumfries and Galloway. Normally, I wouldn’t be rushing towards a floral tasting drink, but served with raspberry tonic and fresh raspberries, it was delightful and I’d certainly have it again. Special shout out to the bartenders for the added ice on the counter so we could get the perfect, arty shot.
Arbikie AK’s Gin
This is a gin from the Highlands, created by a distiller named Kirsty, so I had to give it a go. The notes of this gin include honey and wheat that are from the company’s own farm, black pepper, mace and cardamom. It’s a beautiful, unique tasting gin that is perfect garnished with a sprig of thyme.
Speaking of the distiller, she also launched a gin called Kirsty’s Gin, which I unfortunately did not try but due to it sharing my name and being infused with blaeberries (a type of blueberry, it’s not just a typo!), it is absolutely a gin I will be purchasing for my own gin cabinet.
This gin by Hazell and Hazell is Glasgow based gin that is created using locally foraged ingredients, such as blackcurrants, bayleaf and ground elder. On top of this, there is an orange flavoured base to give that perfect citrusy taste – I love a fruity gin. Served with tonic and freshly sliced orange, this definitely is a refreshing gin.
The last gin festival I went to (Sessions Gin Festival) had a good few food stalls to choose from so I expected this festival to be the same. Unfortunately, there was only one food stall – Smoke and Soul, a BBQ caterer from Aberdeen – and at first glance, I thought there would be nothing for me to at as there were only three items on the menu, two of which were meat items that included BBQ sauce which I hate and Mac and Cheese which I really did not fancy as dairy makes me feel sick, and with drinking too, it that did not seem like a good mix.
However, on observation, I noticed that the meats were not made in BBQ sauce and instead were coated in the sauce afterwards, so this meant I could actually eat, yay! I opted for the Beef Brisket Wrap and asked for chipotle sauce and it was delicious. I don’t think I stopped for air whilst eating.
I do wish there were other stalls though – if you were meat-free (which is how 80% of my diet is) or a vegan, there really is little to no option for you at the event in terms of food, which is disappointing. Hopefully, the range expands over time.
Throughout the afternoon, there are live musicians performing that are local to the area. This was a nice touch as it gave the festival some atmosphere and supporting local acts is always brilliant.
We had a lovely afternoon trying out new gins. It was a fun and different way to spend a Saturday and meant I could go home, chill in the evening and not be hungover all of Sunday – perfect! I thought the bartenders were all super friendly and inviting and were dedicated to showing off their local gins. Would I go again? I think I definitely would go again. I’m a big gin drinker and any excuse to have is amazing. However, I would like to see more food options, especially for those with dietary requirements and perhaps more seating, but other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
How can you get involved?
As I mentioned, TrueOriGINS is coming to the following places over the next few months: Inverurie, Glasgow and Edinburgh. You can find out when and exactly where here.
Each location has a Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and a Saturday evening event so there is plenty of opportunity for you to get your gin on.
Tickets are £12.50 each and this gets you entry into the festival, your souvenir gin glass and gin booklet.
And that’s it! I’m all for a gin festival, so if any others are coming to the Aberdeen area soon – hit me up, I’ll be keen!