A Gin Masterclass at The Exchange

I cannot promise you that I’m not writing this post fully under the influence of alcohol following a Gin Masterclass.

Back in January, The Exchange, Hanley, did a hugeeeee giveaway where they give something different away every day in January. I was lucky enough to win a Gin Masterclass for me and three other people!

Yesterday I took my mum, aunty and friend Leah along to The Exchange where we were settled into my favourite booth and ordered some nibbles whilst the staff got our little gin station ready. I’m absolutely heartbroken that they’ve taken the Pig Mac fries (bacon and macaroni cheese) off the menu, so I settled for the Rock n Roll fries (bacon and cheese upon cheese).

Our station was set up so lovely and Sarah, our bartender, was an absolute star. The girl knows her gin and explained how it was made, their strengths and their pairings for us gin novices.

I’ve recently been exploring new gins and flavours, and this was the perfect opportunity to discover what I like, what I don’t and what to mix with.

I had some odd misconception (literally from nowhere) that sloe gin was a strong, not-too-pleasant gin. How blooming wrong was I? We tried the Plymouth Sloe Gin (26%) which is very fruity, and not too dissimilar from a nice port or mulled wine. It’s berry based, so we paired it with Strawberry Pago and lemonade. I could already tell I was going to be enjoying this evening.

The next gin we sampled was Hendricks (41.4%), which is infused with cucumber and rose. To enhance the cucumber, Sarah paired it with the Fever Tree Elderflower tonic. As none of us are massive on tonic, we added a dash of Green Tree Elderflower cordial to sweeten it up and take away the tonics aftertaste.

Bulldog gin (40%) was next on the agenda. It’s got some warm undertones that come from the cinnamon, but is relatively citrusy. To complement the citrus, we added the fever Tree Aromatic tonic and some slices of grapefruit. You would be surprised at how much of a difference a slice of fruit makes to your drink; it doesn’t just sit there to look pretty (contrary to popular belief), but does really infuse the gin and adds some sweetness.

The strongest gin at 45% was Beefeater, a very dry gin. This is the one you hard liquor drinkers may enjoy neat. If you like a nice whiskey, you could easily enjoy a Beefeater on the rocks. It was a little too harsh for me, but matched with the Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic, a squeeze of lemon and lime, it was perfect.

With a lot of the stronger (40+%) gins, you would find that alone, they’re a bit much. However, with the right flavour combo, you could develop your new favourite serve.

We then tested the Edinburgh Elderflower gin liqueur (20%), which neat, tastes very syrupy and sweet. It’s goes down easy for anyone like me with a sweet tooth. Add a dash of lemonade if it’s too sweet for you. I can confirm that Edinburgh gins Rhubarb and Ginger gin liqueur is equally as sublime.

Then we got into making out own concoctions from the selection of gins, mixers and flavourings before us.

Tammy paired Beefeater, chilli, lime and Mediterranean tonic, whilst my mum went for Hendrick’s, mint and some blackberry liqueur.

I opted for the Bulldog gin, pairing it with Edinburgh Gin Raspberry liqueur with rosemary, lavender and juniper berries (suave, I know).


Just for a little fun (and wholehearted gin education, of course), Sarah cracked out the big guns. The top shelfers. Bathtub Gin and Opihr. I can say with confidence that the Opihr gin was the only one I actually disliked. It’s an oriental spiced gin which is just a little too spicy for me.

Sarah made us all her own little creation of passionfruit liqueur with Hendrick’s gin. She garnished with grapefruit and lime, which went down an absolute treat, before we all made the decisions on our final drink.

All four of us wemt for sloe gin, which has become our new favourite drink. Mum and I are even going to try and distil our own! I added the Edinburgh Gin Raspberry liqueur with lemon, grapefruit and juniper berries, served over ice.

This was such a fun experience and it was so interesting to learn a little more about gin and what mixers to go with. I’ve come away with an abundance of gin knowledge that I would be able to confidently enter any bar and order a delicious drink knowing exactly what I’m talking about. Just call me a gin connoisseur, okay?

I feel that this, or if you’re not a gin lover, The Exchanges Cocktail Masterclass could make a great birthday present for anyone into their spirits.


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  1. April 6, 2018 / 10:48 am

    This looks like so much fun! My mum and Jake are such huge gin fans and I’ve been getting into it more recently too. I like it so much more without tonic and the flavoured ones are amazing! Love a good rhubarb and ginger or raspberry, lush pics too Beff!
    Alice Xx

  2. Susan Leach
    April 6, 2018 / 2:38 pm

    That looked real interesting Beth and I love my G&T but I think and know I would have been on the floor drinking that lot.

  3. April 6, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    This honestly sounds like my idea of heaven. I haven’t had sloe gin in ages but reading this has really got me craving some. I’ll have to keep an eye out for masterclasses in my area, no doubt I’d get very very drunk! x

  4. April 6, 2018 / 8:15 pm

    I’ve never been much on drinking but this looks like so much fun! I absolutely love the idea of a gin station – actually considering having a mimosa bar for my wedding!

    cabin twenty-four

  5. Bexa
    April 6, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    This looks like such a fun experience Beff! Wow, your photography is absolutely gorgeous too! Thank you for sharing, my sister is a big gin lover so I’ll have to see if there is something similar near me! ? xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  6. April 6, 2018 / 8:44 pm

    You look so gorgeous in the pictures and it sounds like you had a fabulous time – such a good prize to win as well, and so nice that you got to share the experience! ? I don’t really drink at all, and gin tends to be too strong for me, but I love the sound of the Bulldog Gin! ?

  7. April 6, 2018 / 8:50 pm

    Omg these all look delicious! Makes me want to try gin again. I would love to do a master class, even if it was for cocktails, would be soo cool! Also I love your shirt in this post, super cute x

    Lily | The Wellbeing Edit

  8. Angie
    April 6, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    Lovely post and great pics! I have not had Gin that many times but I would like to try some and with diffrent flavour! Thanks for sharing!

  9. April 7, 2018 / 8:52 am

    What a fun idea! This looks so good and your pictures look like they have captured it perfectly! x

  10. April 7, 2018 / 11:30 am

    Great post, looks like fun and I never thought to add chilli to my drink. Is it spicy or just perfect?? X

  11. April 8, 2018 / 7:41 am

    This looks like such a great experience, having fun while getting wavy ?❤️

  12. April 8, 2018 / 10:05 am

    I swear you have the best social life of anyone I know!!

  13. April 11, 2018 / 7:48 pm

    Oh this looks amazing! I love gin and thos pig mac n cheese fries sounded INSANE but the rock n roll fries sounded just as good to be fair! I would love to attend something like this!

    lots of love!
    Alicia Xo

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Staffordshire, UK

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