We had come to the Aladdin’s cave of the gin world, 45 botanics laid out, ready for us to choose our particular favourites and distil our own gin.
We were at Chalgrove Artisan Distillery in Oxfordshire, the home of OX GINS, ready to create our own gin, distil it, bottle it, label it and take it home with us that day. And we were beyond excited!
“From peppercorns to lavender, rose petals to basil, everything you could possibly want in a gin was there for our taking”
And you can do the same! We have a voucher for two people to giveaway to one lucky winner in our amazing gin competition!
The Gin School Experience includes a gin tutorial of the botanics, an OX GIN tasting and nibbles, a fully immersive gin creation where you select and weigh the botanics, take charge of a 2 litre copper alembic still, measure the ABV of the Gin, cut it to strength, filter it, bottle it, decide upon a name and label it!
And what an experience it is!
From peppercorns to lavender, rose petals to basil, everything you could possibly want in a gin was there for our taking. Whether your favourite things go together to create the perfect gin remains to be seen, but the experts (husband and wife team Jenny and Bob Clark) were on hand to advise us.
Set up during lockdown, the Gin Discovery Experience is already going down really well -our friends at CAD imparting their wisdom to an avid audience.
It’s a three hour experience, so took us the good part of an afternoon, but disappears in a trice, especially as drinks and posh nibbles are all laid on as part of the offering.
With capacity for 6 couples or 12 people, the experience is also perfect for hens and stags, friends, reunions etc, and having been invited to go and try it out for ourselves, we were there like a shot with my favourite gin buddy Mrs Rivers!
“I’d highly recommend the CAD Gin Experience. Not only is it great fun, but you are being taught by the experts who don’t cut any corners. What you take home is the real deal”
After an introductory talk and tasting session, we were taken through to the distilling room where we were advised to pick between 4-6 botanics from the 45 for the distilling process. Weighing them out minutely, they were then placed in the copper still, which boils like a kettle, the steam appearing as gin at the end of it. Don’t ask me about the science bit, but suffice to say with the experts on hand to make sure the process ran smoothly, it was easy
Choosing kaffir lime leaves, fig, roseship, cardomon, thyme and orange rind for mine, my partner-in-crime Mrs Rivers went for a fig, pear, lemon rind, pink peppercorns and rose petal concoction.
“the passion and love that goes into each and every bottle is evident”
Chatting away while the distilling takes place we heard how lockdown enabled the family run gin company to not only produce its seven award winning gins (OX1, OX2, OX3, OX4, OX11, OX20 and OX44) at their base in Chalgrove, but to put the finishing touches to their gin school.
That they are obsessive about gin, their global gin awards speaking for themselves, is a given, but the passion and love that goes into each bottle is also evident.
Take the heather they use in OX44 for example. It hails from the Isle of Lewis where its grown on the cliffs, so has a lovely salty taste to it. Nothing is compromised here.
“It is a simple process but a lot of knowledge and experience goes into producing our gin on a commercial scale,” Bob told us.
CAD have also just launched their latest addition to the gin stable – OX11 – a collaboration with the Woodlands Medical Centre in Didcot, to top up its already burgeoning portfolio.
“We were tasked with creating a new OX11 Gin for their volunteers who helped with the Covid vaccination programme and all volunteers will receive a bottle of our new OX11 Gin,” Ben told us.
As if that wasn’t enough, CAD will also be launching another addition OX14 in the next few weeks!
Too soon however our gin was ready and we underwent the hilarious graduation ceremony complete with mortar board and photos. The resulting gin needs two weeks to rest at home, but we tasted it and were delighted with the results.
Mine was peppery and rather exotic, while Mrs Rivers’ produced a more soothing, gentle, sophisticated taste.
Either way I’d highly recommend the CAD Gin Experience. Not only is it great fun, but you are being taught by the experts who don’t cut any corners. What you take home is the real deal. Plus, they keep a record of your botanic concoctions so if you ever want to order more you can. It’s a win win from us.
We have one voucher for two to give away in our fantastic Gin Discovery Experience competition.
To enter all you have to do is follow us and CAD, tag in someone else, like and share on social media. We will choose the lucky winner at random. The closing date for entries is Sunday September 19 at midnight. The publisher’s decision is final and no correspondence can be entered into. There is no cash alternative. You must be 18 to enter. Full terms and conditions can be found at https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/ox-in-a-box-competition-terms-and-conditions/
For Instagram go to oxinabox_new @oxinabox_new and https://www.instagram.com/chalgroveartisandistillery/ @chalgroveartisandistillery
In the meantime, to book the experience for yourself, which costs £125 for a couple (leave with one 70cl bottle of your gin) or £85 for an individual person email Hello@oxgins.co.uk or Hello@oxhospitality.co.uk
To order some gin or find out more about CAD go to www.chalgroveartisandistillery.com