We recently had the pleasure of interviewing gin expert Jym Harris who co-founded the Gin Festival with his wife, Marie.
Their love for gin, combined with their hunger to find more and more exciting varieties led them on a path that changed the English gin scene forever.
Here is what Jym had to say:
What inspired you to start Gin Festival?
My wife and I both love gin but we found that most bars and events in the UK just didn’t get it right!
They either had a minuscule selection of gin, that didn’t properly represent what was available out there or they missed out on decent serves, with high-quality tonic water. We’d found some amazing gins and bars on a holiday to Spain and knew that there was so much more that could be done!
We realised that with our combined skills we could create something pretty special, and here we are!
Did you ever imagine it would be so successful?
I absolutely hoped so but two years ago, I couldn’t have dreamt of selling out a festival in the space of a weekend or a third of the tickets for an event on the morning of the day of release!
Have you tried every single gin on offer at the festivals?
Of course! One of my key responsibilities is to search for new gins and make sure that they’re off a high enough quality for us to sell. It’s a hard job but somebody has to do it…
Some of the festivals have taken place is really unique and unusual venues. Which festival venue has been your favourite so far?
I think it’d have to be the Victoria Baths in Manchester! It’s an incredible building with an amazing history, if you ever get a chance to look around, you should!
Tonic or Ginger Ale?
Ahh, for Brockmans, and gin generally, I’d have to go with tonic but as a standalone drink, anything with ginger, all the way!
Favourite gin garnish?
This almost feels like a trick question!
I don’t have a favourite garnish; I want my G&T to be served with the appropriate garnish and not just have a slice of lime slung in as an afterthought. I was in a bar recently where I was asked “Lemon, lime or orange?” and I had to go with “None!” – if a bar doesn’t know how to serve the gin well, it’s worthwhile leaving the spirit to speak for itself.
Why do you think Brockmans is so popular at the festivals?
Brockmans is a brilliant example of a modern gin and appeals to people on many different levels – it’s got a great base of very traditional gin botanicals but mixes it up with the freshness of the distilled fruits.
How many different gins do you have at home?
To be honest, I’ve sort of lost count! I know I have more than 100 gins that aren’t from work then I must admit to having loads of ones from Gin Festival!
Favourite Gin cocktail?
I’m usually more of a G&T fan but I love a Red Snapper! Think Bloody Mary but scrap the vodka in favour of a good gin.
Best Gin joke?
I only know really bad gin jokes but this one’s my favourite:
Q: What 1 thing helps you breathe and get squiffy?