There was plenty of Christmas spirit at Nailsea MicroPub on Wednesday for a gin tasting evening with Somerset Distillery.

Although primarily the place to go for real ale it was decided to give the High Street taproom over for a few hours to sample a new local gin.

Four friends from North Somerset launched the gin distillery at Cheston Combe, Backwell, earlier this year.

The gang of four, Steve Downey, Simon Green, Dave Stanley and Allan Smith built their distillery on land they purchased at the old quarry next door to the recycling centre.

And it was Steve and Allan who conducted the Nailsea tasting aided by Rusty Rat their mascot who sat on the bar.

During renovations the old cast iron garden sculpture modelled on Ratty from The Wind in The Willows was found and renamed to become the brand mascot and feature on beer mats.

MicroPub bosses Mark Ashman and his partner Carolyn Cooper hosted the event and were thrilled with the enthusiasm for the gin.

Mark said: "It was fantastic.

“We will definitely host another gin tasting in the new year.”

Next year it is intended to include a second gin made using Backwell Red apples from a local orchard but it is unlikely this will give it a ‘pink’ colouring, said Steve.

In charge of recipe development is Simon, formerly head chef at the Riverstation in Bristol.

The distillery innovators have previously worked in hospitality, IT and the music industry and all wanted a challenge in spirit production during lockdown.

Building their distillery and perfecting their London dry gin which has become the firm's signature drink took 18-months, said Steve.

The samplers learned Somerset Distillery London Dry Gin is left to mature for at least five weeks, allowing oils in the botanicals to infuse and create the uniquely refreshing flavour.

A botanical is a plant or herb valued for its medicinal or therapeutic properties, flavour, and/or scent.

Products made from botanicals can be used to maintain or improve health so we’ll say chin-chin to that.

The classic pine taste you notice when you sip on fine gin comes from the juniper berry, which is just one of many fascinating botanicals used in the distilling process.

Friends Shelley, Lynn and Alison who came to the tasting have been buying Somerset Distillery gin from Aimee’s Wine House at Backwell but we are told it is selling so well that stocks are low.

Bottle sales during the night were impressive and many orders were taken, added Mark.

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Here is what Nailsea MicroPub drinkers who were served by Steve and Allan had to say about the gin tasting at Nailsea MicroPub:

“The first round was the ‘pure’ gin and it knocks your socks off – OMG great"

“The vodka kicks in with a tongue tingling after-effect, fantastic"

“When tonic is added it become sweeter and more palatable”

All agreed with added tonic it was a great drink.

Many agreed it was good to taste first without the tonic and liked the added Seville oranges and star anise spice.

Gin, glorious gin

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