The Ginstitute, 171 Portobello Road, London

The Ginstitute

Today is World Gin Day, and so it seems perfectly appropriate to share with you an afternoon that I enjoyed recently at London’s second smallest museum, The Ginstitute. Hiding away above The Portobello Star on the famed Portobello Road this is no ordinary museum, because here, after you are educated in the history of the stuff, you get to go upstairs and make your own bottle to take home. Amazing. We arrive just after lunch (a full stomach is highly recommended for this) where you are plied with your first G&T. Lubrication was key to our education you see. Our resident gin instructor was Mr Jake F Burger who promptly sat us down, iPad in one hand, G&T in the other, in a room that really does look and feel like the smallest museum in the world not just London. The walls were filled glass cabinets deep with bottles and bottles of gin, dusty bottles, half drank bottles, special editions and heirlooms.

Records show that gin originates in Holland, as far back as 1550, when a professor was trying to concoct a cure for a stomach illness using the single most important ingredient, the juniper berry. Years pass, and it became a drink you would take to keep yourself warm (rations were given during the war) and the love affair began, hence the phrase ‘Dutch courage’. We must also remember to credit a man called Jean Jacob Schweppe, (you can guess what he did) who arrived on the scene in around 1770. This ingredient, carbonated water, went on to revolutionise long drinks. Another man who’s invention started out as purely a medicinal aid to cure digestive ailments, created our drinking future. Feeling poorly? A G&T is is then…

The Stove

The Ginstitute Stove 

The Still Room

The Still Room

Gin can be made from any spirit alcohol of at least 96% volume. Made from a base of either grain or molasses, it has no flavour or colour. The flavouring is infused with the botanicals you choose to add. After our history lesson, we were moved up to the classroom, The Ginstitute, all piled around a giant workbench in the middle of the room, pencil and pad at the ready, we were ready for our tasting session before we were let loose to create our own gin. Again, another reason to have had a big lunch before. Can I just suggest E&O round the corner for this. There are four considerations you must undertake whilst creating your own gin, with the base flavour first, juniper, followed by 3 other areas you must consider. You should include a citrus element, will you choose orange blossom? Or perhaps lemon peel? Think about some delicate flavours, angelica root, or liquorice? I was planning on making my gin perfect for use when stirring a negroni so I added some cassia bark, orris root and cubeb berry. It’s up to you how many botanicals you might consider adding to your spirit alcohol, I went for 12, you can choose up to 20 or so and as few as 4 or 5, but the more you add the more interesting the flavours you’ll notice once you’ve learnt a little about each ingredient. 

Ingredients

Lessons

I wanted to keep a pinch of all the botanicals I chose to use, amazing really once you learn about all these ingredients…

The Ginstitute

The Ginstitute

The classroom

Ready for bottling and labelling, I’d nearly made my first bottle of gin…

The Classroom

The Aim

My visual for the day, and my end result…

The final product

Mission achieved! To book your place at one of the next events, just click here

Images courtesy of The Ginstitute Press Dept & LWSY

One comment on “The Ginstitute, 171 Portobello Road, London”

  1. Linzi Gibson says:

    Hi there interested in booking this amazing event for my husband for Christmas + me how much for us as unsure when could do can I pay and book event later in year? As its going to be a surprise can I pay if decide to do over the ?

    Many thanks

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