Review: Hogmoor Distillery Gin School
by Louisa Saunders...
Having seen these brightly coloured bottles of gin on social media but never tasted them I was very happy to be heading to Bordon, Hampshire for a day of learning about gin making. Pauline had sent me a very handy map so it was easy to find, enough parking for visitors and a big sign so we knew we were in the right place.
We were very warmly (despite social distancing) welcomed by Anthony and Pauline, the atmosphere was very casual and relaxed as we settled into our own space with an individual copper still. The set up was impressive whilst maintaining a local, family feel to it. I instantly felt relaxed and at home here. Not a bad place to feel at home is it?
The Hogmoor Line Up
Hogmoor currently (at the point of writing this in August 2020) have 3 gins in their line up as well as a special edition celebrating key workers that was a recipe created by someone who had previously attended their Gin School. Throughout the day we got to try all 3 of their gins (with smaller measures and soft drink options for the drivers amongst us) and as someone who does not enjoy drinking tonic I always like to see how a gin tastes neat before deciding if I will add a mixer or not. So the first gin we tried was their London dry and from the first taste I fell in love, served over ice and garnished with rosemary and bilberries I was impressed with how smooth it felt and how enjoyable it was to drink, no mixer required. This will be a regular on my gin shelf.
The gin-making experience
There were 4 pairs of people at this event, each person had their own still and while we were tasting the Hogmoor gins each pair was taken through to the botanicals room where we could choose the ingredients for our own gins, the rosemary garnish in my London dry gin inspired me to have this as my main botanical and the recipe grew from there. My friend who attended did not know where to start so she was guided by her sense of smell and Anthony’s expertise. Once we all had our botanicals ready we put them into the still and turned on the heat, these take time to warm up and the process to begin but Anthony talked us through each stage, encouraging us to taste our own and each others at various stages of the process which was at times quite entertaining as some were spicier than others and still 80% ABV at this point.
While the stills were doing their thing we were shown the still that does all the hard work for the Hogmoor gins which was smaller than I expected. We were also provided with a homemade lunch that consisted of focaccia filled with mozzarella and basil and other delicious nibbles that all went down a treat.
Once we had our high ABV gin from the still (mine came out at 76.8 ABV) it was poured into our bottles and cut with spring water to bring it down to a respectful 44.7 ABV, next up was choosing a name for our gin and attempting to put the label on straight, followed by waxing the lid ourselves. Some of us chose to add a couple of butterfly pea flowers to our bottles which turn the liquid a beautiful blue colour.
Fun, relaxing gin-fuelled day out
I could not have asked for a more fun or relaxing day out, my friend and I both had a wonderful day and are so pleased with our very own bottles of gin, we can’t thank Pauline and Anthony enough for making this such a wonderful experience. If you’ve never done a gin experience but want to make your own I cannot recommend Hogmoor Distillery enough and it definitely did not feel like any other day in school.