A few weeks ago in Nairobi my friend Cynan mentioned a gin bar outside of Oxford that had 50 different gins. Knowing that I'd be ending up here, we agreed that a mission was in order to check it out. Yesterday was a lovely sunny day (it's odd, everyday since I got here on Wednesday has been sunny) and I quite enjoyed the 20 minute bus ride out to the quaint little village of Woodstock.
Feather's is a posh hotel and as I got there first I made my way out to a nice little courtyard in the back, denying myself the option of looking at the bar before Cynan and his lovely wife arrived. And then, the fun began. We were presented with a ring binder (a classy one) which must have been two inches thick. We weren't sure what to do with it, so we ventured inside to the bar.
Cynan was wrong. There weren't 50 different types of gin, there were close to 150!!
While I've enjoyed a nice G&T for a few years now, I had no idea of the many different varieties - like wine, you can smell the different bouquets and they can taste completely different. And I also had no idea that tonic water could be so delightfully different.
I started with a glass of Oliver Cromwell 1599 (GBR), which the book told me has a "big nose packed with distinct, clean juniper and good support from the traditional aroma. Big rich, full mouth, with all the flavours from the nose with juniper definitely in charge. It's wonderful aromatics in big, bright finish." (I had many concerns over the grammar in the gin book.) It was suggested that I match it with a Fever Tree tonic, and in a nutshell, it was terrific.
My second choice was a cheeky French gin called G'VINE Nouaison which was "fruity and rich, intense and complex aromas of cinnamon bark, baked citrus, floral juniper follow through on around silky, zesty and robust entry. Very sharp with solid character. Amplifies the aromas of spices, yet retains the sensual and silky grape base as well as the subtle floral note." With a little bottle of Fentiman's tonic it was again, superb.
Of course the whole expedition was slightly pretentious and I was reminded of the scene in the book Brideshead Revisited where Charles and Sebastian are drinking (copius amounts of) wine and as they get more and more drunk their descriptions of the wine get more ridiculous, like it being an 'intelligent' wine or a 'promiscuous' one. I wish I could remember the exact quotes, but I did feel a bit like that!
Afterwards we walked down the street to a little pub and, well, English pub food is really quite perfect for an early evening where the temperatures have dropped a bit!!
With 150 gins to go, and only 6 sampled between the 3 of us, I think it's a good thing I'm here next weekend as well!