REVIEW: The Gin Lab at The Jekyll & Hyde, Birmingham Cocktail Weekend

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We kicked off Birmingham Cocktail Weekend by distilling our own gin at The Jekyll & Hyde, in the UK’s very first ‘Gin Lab’ event, hosted by Edinburgh Gin.

We all know the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; a civilised scientist brews up a potion which transforms him into a rampaging monster. Fortunately, the concoctions being served up at The Jekyll & Hyde during Birmingham Cocktail Weekend had a much more pleasing effect.

After commencing the weekend-long event with Courvoisier’s espresso martini at Hotel Du Vin, we made the short walk to The Jekyll & Hyde where we were greeted with the venue’s signature drink for Birmingham Cocktail Weekend; John Silver’s Bounty, a summery creation including Edinburgh Gin and Aperol. It was inspired by Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, the Edinburgh-based author who also wrote The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde.

Did you know: In order for a spirit to be classed as gin, it has to be over 37.5% ABV, and the most prominent botanical ingredient must be juniper. (If it doesn’t meet these requirements, it’s technically just weird-tasting vodka.)

During the gin masterclass, led by distillery manager Finlay Nicol, attendees each sat down in front of their own distilling equipment, and selected their own botanicals which would then be infused into their gin. Options included star anise and cinnamon for a Christmassy flavour, but I went in a fruitier direction and chose goji berries and white mulberries, with orange peel for a tangy touch, and pink peppercorns for just a little bit of bite.

We then had to slowly raise the temperature on the distillery, while constantly adding ice to the cooling pot to ensure the whole thing didn’t overheat — the whole solution boils up, travels through the pipes as steam, and then condenses into gin at the end.

While our potions were infusing, we were treated to shots of various different infused gins — with the rhubarb unanimously voted the best — and a highly potent Canonball Gimlet, made from “navy strength” Edinburgh Gin . The evening also included a round of gin shooters served in delicious, entirely edible shot glasses, courtesy of Katjes Magic Candy Factory, based in Digbeth, where you can 3D-print any image you like into a vegan-friendly treat.

The Gin Lab is a fantastic addition to Birmingham Cocktail Weekend; interactive, educational, and overflowing with alcohol. Plus, you got a bottle of your own distilled gin to take home with you!