You know what news helps dampen the holiday blues? Winning a competition to go to a gin school that’s what! Yup, I totally did. On the night before we left Switzerland I found out I’d won a spot for the coming weekend at The Gin School at Worcester’s new distillery, Piston Gin, and I was excited!
I’d spotted Piston Gin on social media a couple of months back now, just as the new developments were opening on Severn Street in Worcester, where the distillery is based. On a side note, I still need to check out the neighbouring Nest Cafe, mainly because I’ve heard so many good things about it. It’s also slightly closer to my new house than heading all the way to my usual haunts for weekend brunches/lunches. However, back to gin.
Piston Gin was founded in early 2018 by Nick Weatherall, a builder by trade, who became so fascinated by the story of gin that he was compelled to create his own. He started by building a distillery, in the old Royal Worcester porcelain works on Severn Street. Since opening he has decided to start his own impressive Gin School to give everyone else a chance to dabble in making their own gin.
Piston Gin and Tonic
On arrival we picked a station each to work at (Dr W was gin making too) and started with a Piston Gin and tonic. Now I’m definitely going to have to pick up a bottle of actual Piston Gin, because oh my, what a drinkable G&T that was. A fresh and light gin, it was easy going and would definitely make the perfect summer’s evening G&T. Garnished with grapefruit and blackberry, the sweet and sour garnishes really enhanced the flavour of the dry gin.
Getting Started – Picking Gin Ingredients
The Gin School kicked off with Nick giving us the run down on how to make gin, discussing how there’s generally 10 – 14 botanicals that make up gin, some commonly used (angelica, coriander and it can’t be gin without juniper!) But others are select to the gin being made. The important thing is that botanicals have to be carefully selected so they balance each other. Balancing sweet and savoury, spicy and less so etc. Nick also quickly went over how to make our gin using the mini stills in front of us. Then we were let free to pick whatever ingredients we fancied from a huge selection. Now Dr W and I are quite different in what we like. He went with a floral citrus gin (I must admit his turned out really nicely, considering I’m not usually a floral gin person!) and I went with a very savoury gin (including black pepper, cardamom and dried tomato – yup I know, but it worked!) Once we picked our ingredients out, we got distilling.
It took a little time to get our stills to heat and producing gin. You then have to run it at a drip, so it does take a little bit of time. We had to produce 425ml of gin to make our final bottle. This took a while, so we helped ourselves to more G&Ts whilst we waited! Once we’d reached 425ml this is the point we tested the ABV% of our gin, around 80%, which is completely normal. Distilled water is then used to dilute the gin to the ABV you want. The average gin on the market is around 40%.
The Final Thing – Bottling
Once diluted to the right %ABV, in our case 42%, we then bottled our gin. The final thing after sealing the bottles was to name them both and fill in the distilling details. Being scientists we inevitably went for science-y names!
Overall we had a great time at the Piston Gin Gin School. I know I didn’t pay for our spots, but for £120 a person it’s good value. You get 3 hours of Nick’s time, G&Ts, and you get to take home a 70cl bottle of your own gin (I’ve looked at other gin schools and the take home is can vary between a 25/50cl bottle)! What more could you ask for?! An absolutely wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon. It would make a wonderful gift for a family member who is a gin fiend!
Have you been to a Gin School before? Would you check out Piston Gin and their Gin School? Let me know in the comments,
P.S. Yup so I won my spot and I 100% was not obliged to blog about my experience. But I’m excited for Worcester’s very own gin and I couldn’t not share this with you. Piston Gin is lovely and if you spot it in a bar in Worcester, order a G&T with it!
P.P.S. Piston Gin Distillery is located at The Painting House at Royal Porcelain Works, Severn St, Worcester WR1 2ND. The Gin School runs every Saturday evening from 4-7pm, be sure to book ahead though.