N: The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
Finding somewhere to start is hard, it’s often difficult to predict what people will want to read, what they will expect. But sometimes, the most exciting things happen when you least expect them.
This whole bible began on a chance meeting that changed both our lives for the better. Therefore, for our first blog post, it seems fitting to tell you about a recent experience that was quite unexpected, but certainly changed our gin perspective in both a ‘happy and beneficial way’.
Each year, Chatsworth House opens its’ beautiful gates and welcomes the public to revel at its’ Country Fair. The fair offers a jam packed schedule in the main ring, including sheepdog trials, horse displays, stunt drivers and hot air balloons to name just a few. It really does encapsulate the saying ‘fun for all’. The shopping village boasts a wide array of stalls; although generally aimed more at the country folk, the items for sale are definitely vast. You could even buy a jacuzzi for your back garden, providing that you used your hindsight and drove to the fair in a van wide enough to get it home!
As part of a Hot Air Balloon club, my family have been attending the event for as long as I can remember and it’s almost our family mantra that we will be busy on the first weekend of September for the rest of our lives. I’m sure my mother is canvasing to make it a national holiday to ensure this tradition remains. So this year, we both jumped in the car, no less than 20 minutes after finishing work, to join the troops and I spent the whole 1½ hour journey teaching ‘Chatsworth-Newbie’ D all of the tricks that my family have picked up over the last 25 fairs.
- ALWAYS go to the toilet before heading to the show – being able to pull your trousers up without headbutting a plastic door will soon seem like an absolute luxury. If having to go to the toilet in, what is essentially, a pretty underwhelming tardis isn’t bad enough, you’d be surprised what a extensive sampling session round the food tent can do to a person’s insides.
- If someone walks towards you with a puppy, or even just anything fluffy for that matter, always stop the owner and stroke them. The dog, not the owner, that is… It is a sure-fire way to fill the day out when you find yourself slipping into an overwhelming blur of tweed jackets, patterned wellies and weirdly ornate walking sticks.
So you can probably tell that, despite living in a village, we’re not actually ‘country folk’. D doesn’t know which way is up on a horse, and the ‘great outdoors’ certainly isn’t my idea of ‘great’. Although thoroughly enjoying being away and being together, we felt a little out of our comfort zone amongst the ‘outdoorsy’ stands and found ourselves wandering listlessly, thinking that the only stall we could relate to, or enjoy, was the pick’n’mix van. That is until, in the spirit of this post – quite unexpectedly, we stumbled across the food village – bingo. And then, even more unexpectedly, we laid eyes on the gin stands – bloody jackpot!
The food village looked like a beautiful u-shaped mirage of pork-pies, venison steaks and vibrantly coloured wax cheeses. For those that like food (D), it was an absolute food heaven but it is also a delightfully smelling torment for ‘those people’ that suffer with food intolerances (A) – sob sob! But nestled amongst these gourmet food stalls, like glistening jewels in an already very appetising crown, were a variety of gin stalls and there were a few that really stood out to us…
Hepple Gin hits you like a truth in a web of lies. The bottle literally reads ‘gin with high fidelity’ and that’s exactly what it is. There is no false pretences, it’s true to itself. Many brands nowadays choose botanicals that will appeal to the masses, in the hope of making masses of money. Hepple isn’t about that. It doesn’t taste like a bowl of potpourri or a well-stocked spice rack, it doesn’t try to be anything but gin. You can literally taste the integrity in each sip.
When we uttered the words ‘honest’ and ‘real’, the genuine happiness that radiated from Hepple co-creator Valentine Warner’s face proved that people were understanding, from one sip, what the brand had set out to achieve. Discovering this gin was serendipity.
SHEFFIELD DRY GIN
True North Brew Co has recently released a limited edition gin, ‘The Devonshire Edition’, and serendipity reappeared by affording us the chance to pick up the 20th bottle out if only 200 made at the fair. Gooseberries, kiwis, limes and mint are the crisp and flavourful botanicals that were chosen to infuse this single batch, with the ingredients’ colour giving this bottle a beautiful green hue.
The colour green is typically associated with renewal and life, which is a rather fitting and delicious tribute to the refurbishment of True North Brew Co’s (and one of our favourites) gin bars – The Old House or, as it is now called, The Devonshire. This fresh, yet fruity, limited edition batch certainly does the popular Sheffield-based bar justice. Let’s just say, it would be almost impossible to only have ‘just the one’ of this enjoyable gin. Therefore, our bottle is being locked away in the drinks cabinet, only to be brought out on a very, very special occasion.
MASONS YORKSHIRE GIN
Well if we’re going to talk about expectations, we did NOT expect to enjoy the flavours of gin offered on the Masons Yorkshire Gin stall, but we really, really did. Both of us hesitantly tried a sample of both the Lavender and the Yorkshire Tea batch, with the reassurance that the distillers trialled numerous recipes until they created a blend that they would actually drink themselves. And boy, do those distillers have taste?! What a revelation, almost like serendipity, you could say…
Lavender is normally a major turn off; it reminds us of those embroidered pillows that B&B’ owners believe hides the fusty smell in their tired bedrooms and Earl Grey is quite frankly the work of the devil. But this blend of botanicals is a delight. The flavour is distinctive, yet perfectly subtle. and the fragrance don’t hit you like you’re being forced to drink your grandma’s cheap perfume. Instead, this gin is light, sweet, and is so perfectly floral that any summer evening without a glass in hand should be considered a crime. What a turn up for the books.
Whilst being big tea drinkers (although divided on our brand preferences), we were still slightly sceptical about whether Masons’ Yorkshire Tea Gin would, well, work. But it really does… The flavour is surprisingly smooth and the slight bitter undertone is warming almost, making this gin delightfully easy to drink. Yorkshire folk are fiercely proud of the county, and rightly so. Masons’ Yorkshire Tea Gin not only does its’ namesake justice, but is a gin of which locals would also be fiercely proud.
So really, if Chatsworth has taught us anything, then it is not only expect the unexpected, but that the ‘surprise discovery’ is likely to be something completely amazing. To us, Serendipity is not only discovering something great without even looking for it, but that discovering something unexpectedly often makes the end result even more wonderful.
After a few months of passive aggressive wall-knocking and sliding notes under the door, it took a first date – that turned into an eleven drink-long bar crawl – to realise we had a lot in common. Travel, food, and gin.
Give us a follow:
So, until next time - Bottoms up!
Written by A
28th November 2017
SHARING IS CARING:
The Gin Bible 2017