Last weekend we stopped by the Anno Distillers pop up blending experience and shop in Bluewater Shopping Centre.
Anno Distillers is a Kent distillery based in Marden. The founders, Dr Andy Reason and Norman Lewis, left behind their roles as scientist to start Anno which was the first Kent gin distillery in 200 years. Being in Kent, Anno has access to an array of fresh and interesting local botanicals, from hops and samphire to lavender, elderflower and sloe.
Until the end of December, the Bluewater pop up is offering a blending experience with a tutored introduction to gin, gin and botanical sampling and a chance to learn about the history and process of making gin.
Last year we stopped by the shop on the last day of the pop up and were absolutely gutted we had missed out on making our own gin. So we had to return this year and check it out…
To get you in the mood, the blending class starts with a few gin tasters so you can taste and compare a simple juniper base spirit with the complex aromatic Anno dry gins, all while learning all things gin. Or for those who don’t like gin Anno also offers vodka.
Then it was time to start choosing our ingredients to create our own personalised gin. In front of us we had a range of flavours to smell and taste one by one so we could pick the ones which best suited our palate.
We made notes in our Anno blending experience notebooks of which flavours we did and didn’t like and why. I managed to narrow my choice to down to mainly sweet flavours, including rhubarb, sweet orange, lavender and old Tom syrup, with a few spices including ginger, pink peppercorn and grains of paradise.
From there we began mixing a few flavours at a time so eventually we would get to create our own unique gin blend.
I started with rhubarb and pink peppercorn, I don’t like gins which are too sweet so the pink peppercorn really balanced out the sweetness and gave it that extra kick. We then decided to add a little sweet orange and then some grains of paradise, another spice, to once again balance the flavour.
I absolutely adored the taste of the old Tom syrup, but this is often added last to add some sweetness to the gin but mine definitely didn’t need it. So we narrowed it down to just 7.5ml of pink peppercorn, 7.5ml of rhubarb, 7.5ml of sweet orange and 7.5ml grains of paradise and then 10ml of butterfly sweet pea, a purple colouring which turns pink when tonic is added!
We then got mixing our concoctions to make 40ml blend to add to our gin, which was placed on our tables on arrival, so we could have a G&T with our own personalised blend.
We filled our flasks from their carboys and then sat back and enjoyed a G&T, before we had to fill the bigger flasks to make our final blend, which would be bottled and sealed with our very own label.
My full recipe is:
100ml Butterfly sweet pea
75ml Pink peppercorn
75ml Sweet orange
75ml Grains of paradise
All blended with a base spirit of juniper and coriander.
And here is my blend before tonic…
And here are a few of the designs you can choose for your bottle…
Our bottles were then labelled and sealed. I absolutely adored my personalised bottle, complete with a Studded Kisses logo, which I appropriately named…On the Rox.
Everyone was then presented with a gift bag filled with everything you need to serve your gin to your friends and family plus our very own blending certificate. We were able to take home our notebooks with details of our gin recipe and if you really like your gin, you can get in touch with Anno so you can reorder the blend in future!
I can’t recommend the whole experience enough. The Anno team are absolutely lovely and just want us all to have a good time and share their passion for Anno. It was fantastic to see the team so passionate and to see a local brand doing so incredibly well.
If you are in Bluewater this Christmas then don’t forget to stop by.
For the Anno blending experience, tickets are priced at £75 and the experience lasts 2 hours. For more information visit annodistillers.co.uk.
Bluewater Shopping Centre
Upper Mall Inside
My visit to Anno Distillers Bluewater was complimentary however as always, all views and words are honest and my own.