Cool Course: Gin Making at An Mor
The ultimate experience for gin lovers, this Bude-based Masterclass includes tasting, gin history and the chance to distill your own bespoke spirit
I write this post with a G&T in hand. Tanqueray since you ask, which is a traditional London Dry, with a dominant juniper profile. Sorry, am I being a gin bore again?
Gin appreciation is one of the defining attributes of Muddy Editors (and harassed mothers) up and down the country but I’ve recently formalised my gin-swilling education at Cornwall’s only gin school.
It is part of quirky/cool, boutique hotel An Mor, in Bude and offers tastings, a gin making courses and gin parties. There’s also an al fresco gin bar and brand new sushi bar for post-distilling snacks.
So – for what was possibly my best working day ever – my colleague Becky and I headed to Bude to take a Masterclass. Here’s how we got on – hic!
Before you make your own gin, it’s helpful to get a grasp of the various flavour profiles and range of botanicals that feature in popular gins. So the experience starts with a gin tasting and a little gin history and trivia.
Susan, An Mor’s gin school director (best job ever), divides them into six categories: juniper (we tried Sipsmith London Dry), citrus (Larios), spiced (Opihr), herbaceous (Monkey 47 – my fave), floral (The Botanist) and fruit (Brockmans).
The fact I add tonic to all gin is really the sign of an amateur. Susan only adds tonic to the cheapest gins – recommending just an ice cube and a splash of water (to release the flavours), much like you might drink whiskey.
For the purposes of the tasting, we sip it with just a drop of water. The tasting gave us a great insight into the various flavours of gin and really helped us identify what we liked and didn’t like.
Making your own
Gin is made with pure grain spirit (about 97% proof). A quantity is measured and poured into the beautiful copper stills to be infused with your chosen botanicals.
Every gin has juniper and most have coriander, angelica root and oris root. The rest is up to you.
An Mor has the most gorgeous old, apothecary-style cabinet lined with botanicals from around the world. Some schools use oils rather than botanicals in their original dried form but this way you can really see what it is you’re working with.
I chose flavours I like in cooking – lime leaf, pink peppercorn and liquorice (for a little sweetness) while Becky went for orange peel, cassia and elderflower.
Though some botanicals are named on commercial gin bottles, the quantities and exact recipes are fiercely guarded. Gin, you see, is very quick (albeit expensive) to produce. This is part of the reason gin making has become such big business. You can be selling it so much more quickly than whiskey or wine, for example. So the secret to a great gin is creating that perfect recipe.
After years of distilling gin, Susan is still tinkering with hers and when she makes a batch of her own, she works with a pharmacist on all the precision measurements.
Our gin is distilled and ready to drink in just under an hour. The first bit of the ‘still’ and the last is discarded and it is then mixed with distilled water bringing it to about 40% proof.
Mine’s not refined enough to sip neat – it’s my first attempt after all – but it tastes pretty damn good with tonic.
Make it a party
A gin making experience or tasting at An Mor would be such a great birthday party or girly get together. It’s sociable, fun and you learn a lot too.
Plus the hotel has a brand new sushi bar, which is the perfect place to head after your Masterclass to keep the fun going. And many gin school guests stay over, so they can make the most of the tasting opportunities.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: A birthday party with your girl gang/ a weekend away with a friend/ gin aficionados looking to deepen their knowledge.
Not for: Although the gin parties are popular as a hen activity, you really want everyone to be genuinely interested in the history and process of gin making, since the experience is very hands on. Also – not for gin haters, obvs.
The damage: Gin making parties £40 (2 hrs)/ Gin Making Masterclass £90 (4 hrs)/ Gin Tasting £25.
Gin Making Experience, An Mor Hotel, Hartland Terrace, Bude, Cornwall, EX23 8JY. 01288 355460. Experiencesanmor.co.uk