In the heart of Leeds city centre, lies Hotham's Gin school & distillery. Owned and managed by Simon & Emma and established only 2 weeks before COVID-19 lockdown (February 2020) the Gin School (referred to as Leeds Gin School - they have another in Hull too) is ever so slightly off the main hustle and bustle of the vibrant shopping area of Leeds but perfectly located to enjoy an afternoon (which runs into evening) to taste some of the UK's best gin's.
In October 2020 I was invited to enjoy an afternoon at the Leeds Gin School to make my own Gin and taste the gins that Hotham's have been making. This was my first Gin School experience, and why not start with the award winning venue which has received awards and accolades for it's visitor experience and the gin's themselves. Not knowing quite what to expect we were greeted by Simon and his team on a very rainy cold Saturday afternoon, taken to their beautiful contemporary branded bar and greeted with a G&T that didn't disappoint, (infact, it was bloody delicious!)
After an introduction from Simon and a thorough going over of the social distancing rules (Simon is thorough and engaging with it) we sipped our G&T and then made our way to the still. Ours was called 'Chippendale'. We walked through the industrial layout which had a perfect balance of wooden features, metal exposed pipes and a very well designed 'funky' layout and sat on high stools to our still-station.
Over the course of the next 3 hours we learnt about the history of gin, told in an interesting, engaging way with a healthy scatter of jokes, socially-distanced playfulness and gin-drinking. We tasted all 3 gins from the Hotham's range and played with botanicals under the watchful eyes and guidance from Simon and his team.
Nothing was too much trouble for the Hotham's team - or it didn't seem that way anyway. When I asked for special botanicals (I went there knowing the gin I wanted to make and seized my opportunity to do so) the team picked, crushed and presented the botanicals to me in a cute little pot. Every, single detail had been thought through. We had our own still and work station, an impressive mini set of drawers to hold all of the botanicals to choose from and a botanical wheel and branded notepad to help us make and record our choices.
Simon is meticulous. His attention to detail is to be admired and is evident at EVERY stage of this experience - I can clearly see why they get 5* every time on Trip Advisor.
After picking the botanicals, measuring, getting the still to temperature and letting it "do it's thing" (not a technical term) we finally ended up with our own bottle of gin, which included a wax dipped lid. Time flew by and my husband and I felt both proud of our gin creation (which Simon cleverly guided us on throughout our time, adding suggestions and hints as to how to get it 'just right' as time went on) and reflective of the whole experience. Also, I must add after 3 gin cocktails and neat tasting, the food platter served back at our reserved table was a very welcome and unexpected addition.
We stayed in the bar for another 2 hours talking to Simon and his team about their bar, the Gin School and sampling several (think I had 4) Basil Smash cocktails. Simon chatted to us in detail with always one eye on new customers - his commitment to the customer experience is very impressive.
Perfect way to spend an afternoon...
Whether you're a gin-addict or not, the experience at Leeds Gin School was one that I think many people could enjoy. Oh and the fact we left with 70cl of our own hand-crafted Gin which we can enjoy and re-order online at any time... was simply a brilliant bonus.
Thank you to Simon & Emma for inviting us.
Check out Hotham's at www.hothams.co.uk
Membership Squad: We are excited to announce that Hotham's will be part of the membership squad with an exclusive offer starting mid/late October 2020.