Drinks Enthusiast Spirit Tasting Night – 24/7, Manchester

There are worse things to do of an evening, than spending your night with a group of new people, learning about spirits and tasting drinks. No, really, there are.

And that’s the premise of The Drinks Enthusiast’s Spirit Tasting nights – book your ticket, turn up, meet new people, taste spirits, learn lots of interesting facts and then end of with a cocktail created especially for the night.

Oh, but it’s much more than that – Dave, aka Drinks Enthusiast, is a passionate, eloquent speaker who knows more about the brands he’s teaching you about, than the brands do themselves.

First up were two gins, both from G-Vine – the first gins to be distilled in France, apparently and, interestingly, made from grapes. We sipped both the green Fluraison version (hints of apple, green cardamom and floral sweetness) and the grey Nouaison (muskier, deeper and full of nutmeg overtones). Flouraison is marketed at the lay-dees and the grey for the gents – because of course, girls have no ability to appreciate a heavier drink and have to be all floral and twee. I for one, with my upright equalist principles, found this is a little insulting (although very good marketing) and rebelled and preferred the Nouaison. So there, clever marketing peoples!

Next in the tasting list was the June grape liquer – also made by G-vine; I’m guessing that this one is only marketed at the girls. Peach colour-way on the bottle, super sweet taste like frostie sweets/artificial peach flavouring – no way I was going to like this one. But to give it it’s due (and to look cool sprouting facts that I actually learnt from Dave…) it’s a grape liquer blended from three different types of grape and is very special because grape liqueuers are very rare. Still mings though.

Lastly we tasted a Roberto Cavalli vodka from Italy – yes, as in the fashion designer Roberto Cavalli. It’s Italy’s first vodka, so they got a well-known name in to design them a swanky bottle and give it some gravitas (oh and a £60 price tag). It’s clean, it’s smooth, but that’s where it ends – like high-edn fashions, this drink is all style over substance – it would make a great mixer, but with that price tag I’ll be sticking to the Smirnoff (which is actually decent as a mixer, just don’t start drinking it neat, I’d suggest a Belvedere for that..).

We finished the night off with a cocktail created especially by Allan Hudd, Bar Manager at 24 Bar and Grill for the tasting session (actually there was a choice of two, lucky us). I opted for the Nouaison Basil Smash as the other on offer was something with the June liquer. Heady, aromatic perfumes wafted up from the smashed basil and the over-powering pepperiness was toned down by the warm muskiness from the gin; the spicy notes in both complimenting perfectly – great choice by moi (yeah taking all the credit…!).

A spirit tasting night is a great alternative to throwing unknown, cheap drinks down your neck and being pawed at by strangers who think wearing a hat indoors is ok – at £15 a ticket it’s bloody good value too; ok you might not be taken by all the drinks you taste, but when else would you be bold enough to order something you’ve never heard of before?

NB The June liquer actually tasted gorgeous in the cocktail that was created with it, so not all bad.

Ps I was given my ticket to the trail for free, but was in no way obliged to say nice things about the night – please see HERE for examples of freebies that haven’t received such a glowing review (ouch!).

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