You’ve probably worked out by now that I love gin and I love food. However I have never thought of having the two together. Gin is something I normally enjoy as a pre dinner drink, a way to mark the beginning of a great evening. So I was really intrigued when Sara Danesin joined up with Catherine and Claire of Still and Heart to run Gin tastings that pair the gin and garnishes with food. The evening was a complete revelation to me and opened up so many possibilities for expanding my gin collection!
The evenings are a relaxed affair at the home of Sara Danesin (where she runs her supper club) and led by Still and Heart with fun and flair.

The theme of the evening was Scottish Gins, a nod to Burns Night and we started the evening off with a drink of Strathearn heather rose gin with prosecco and a quiz about the history of gin. As a Northern Irish girl I was rather surprised to learn that William of Orange was significant in the the growth of gin in the late 1600s.

After the quiz and a fantastic overview of the history of gin we had our first gin: Makars gin (Gaelic for poet) with a garnish of green chilli and a mixer of Doctor Polidori’s cucumber tonic. Sara paired this with heritage sourdough topped with a ‘jam’ made from Ndjua (Calabrian) sausage tomatoes coriander and fennel seeds and some halloumi. The spiciness of the food went really well with the strong juniper hit and spiciness of the gin.

Our second gin was a Rock Rose navy strength gin from Caithness that had a garnish of mint and a mixer of Rocquette cider. Sara paired this with a wood pigeon carpaccio and horseradish mayonnaise on sourdough. A perfect accompaniment for this time of year.

Our third gin was Lassie’s toast by Dunnel Bay distillery, the same distillery that makes Rock Rose. This gin specifically designed for women at the end of Burn’s night, is based on a Moorland tea recipe and has already sold out. I’ll certainly be looking out for it when they release it again as this was a favourite for me. The gin had a garnish of thyme and Sara paired it with haggis croquettes and Dijon mayo. The croquettes were simply out of this world. I could have eaten a bowl full.

Our last gin of the night was Persie Old Tom gin from Perthshire that Sara paired with Bakewell tart. A great way to end the tastings.

Following the tastings everyone was given the option to have a long drink and I chose to have Whittakers pink peculier with hibiscus and pink peppercorns, on Sara’s recommendation. Wow! What a gin. I’ll be ordering a bottle. Still and Heart bring a great selection of gins alongside the ones that are a focus of the tastings and are great at recommending things to try to expand your range of gins. What they don’t know about gin isn’t worth knowing!

The partnership between Sara and Still and Heart is a fantastic opportunity not only to learn more about gin but also a way to experiment with flavours. I’d highly recommend booking yourself in to one of the evenings this year and bring a few friends as it’s a great night out!

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