Meet the Blogger

Nic's Gin and Beer.

Published: 6th December 2019

What better way to return to our Meet the Blogger series than with Nic’s Gin & Beer. Nic is an all round great gal and huge supporter of the Scottish Gin scene. We had the pleasure of meeting Nic at The Gin To My Tonic Show in Glasgow earlier this year then again at Mansfield Traquair on International Scottish Gin Day. We’re very grateful for all her support and we enjoy Nic’s honest and fancy-free approach to reviewing and writing about gins. Having first tried gin only 2 years ago, we admire her desire to learn and dedication to the cause!

When and where was your first Gin & Tonic?

My first G&T was as recent as two years ago. I’m EXTREMELY late to the party. My dad gave me some Gin Bothy Gunshot which I (reluctantly) tried and loved…  But that was with ginger ale… So… As a result of that I decided to look into gin a bit more and, just so happened, there was a voucher online for a little place in Glasgow called Gin 71… It was for a seven course tasting menu and I thought “that sounds nice” so I picked it up. When we got there they mentioned gin pairings then left us to peruse the gin menu… I picked it up…  Opened it… Flicked through it… Put it back down… If you’ve ever seen the Gin 71 gin menu you’ll be aware of just how IMMENSE it is… As someone that had no clue about gin I was baffled, had no idea where to begin and didn’t know what any of the words meant (botanicals?? flavour profiles?? mixers?? lost) so I decided the safest bet was the gin pairings.

I don’t remember what gins we got but I remember enjoying them. I was also taken aback at the stories behind the gins I was drinking and became quite fascinated in this little liquid that seems to mean so much to those that make it.

What started you off on your blogging journey?

I ran out of characters on Twitter!!!

I was enjoying the social media side of gin so much that I figured why not? It’s honestly that simple. I noticed a lot of gin blogging was quite “straight-laced” and so I wanted to bring something a bit different to the table… I’m not an overly serious person so I wanted to do something for people like me to enjoy… But also something worded in such a way that it made for light, but informative reading without seeming like I’m trying too hard… If that makes sense I’ve been told by a few folk that the style of writing I have is like I’m sitting chatting to you… which is a nice way to look at it.

What do you do to stay abreast of the latest gin news?

I use social media (predominantly Twitter and Instagram) and I recently subscribed to Gin Magazine (just got my third issue through the door the other day there) and, so far, it’s been a smashing way to get news.

I’ve also started picking up some books to have handy to develop my knowledge a wee bit but also for reference.  he two I use most are Gin Galore by Sean Murphy which is a selection of Scottish Gins, a bit about their story, suggested servings etc and I love it. The other is The Gin Dictionary by David T Smith which is a dictionary… about ginny type things. Two very different books but both unbelievably useful!

Who’s your favourite gin blogger?

I couldn’t say that I have a favourite (cos I couldn’t decide) but I have ones that I read and really enjoy.

I read and look at really serious stuff all day long so I enjoy something a bit more lighthearted in my leisure time so I always make sure I read Matt Burton’s (The Gin Shelf) stuff…  I enjoy the personal touch he adds and the fact that he doesn’t try to be too fancy but always gives good insight.

Another worth mentioning is Adam McDowall… AKA Quaffed the Raven. His output is unreal… I think he’s slowed it down recently but I really enjoy what he does…  AND he’s making his own gin just now which has been really interesting.

And finally I enjoy Inka Larissa’s (On The Sauce Again) informative blogs… She knows her negronis. I always find I learn something when reading her stuff… And, again, it’s easy to read.

Tell us something about yourself outside the world of gin…

I’d love to tell you something really interesting about myself but I live a simple life. Outside of gin I love to read, adore my PS4 and go to the gym five days a week… That’s about it to be honest.

If you’re after a little unknown fact then here you go… In my last job (sales) we had a HUGE competition that essentially had one branch qualify every week.  Every week was a different task. One week the task was to create a video explaining why your branch should qualify. I chucked together a creative little video using Little Big Planet (a Playstation game where you could create levels yourself) and we won it that week. My prize? I was whisked off to the Bahamas with 39 other qualifiers to compete in a Survivor style week on an island… I didn’t win and I nearly drowned but I had a great time… We also got to spend our last night in the Atlantis Resort which was a million miles away from the floor of a wooden shack with a leaky roof where we HAD been staying… In the shack we lived off potatoes cooked on the fire… In the Atlantis it took me 30 minutes to walk round the breakfast buffet!… Worlds apart.

Would you admit to having a favourite gin?

I wouldn’t but that’s only because it changes so often… I’d write something now but by the time you read this there will be a new love in my life… It all depends on my mood and what I’m putting it in/with.

What I CAN give you is a few of the ones I currently find myself reaching for on a fairly regular basis… Mackintosh… Obviously… Especially now I have a bottle of my very own! Fidra which I love, don’t drink for a while, rediscover and fall in love all over again… Every time I have it I honestly love it more… Esker has a similar effect on me. Anything the Hrafn gents create…  ANYTHING… I mean, I’m sure I saw recently they have a marmalade… Bet it’s wonderful. I can’t leave out the wonderful Wee Farm Distillery’s Drovers Gin…  It’s so so special. Finally I’d chuck Warner’s Distillery Honey Bee and the Farmed and Foraged into the mix… Amazing gins… As you can see… I struggle to choose.

What’s your personal perfect serve?

My initial answer is a G&T but it’s too obvious so… I’ll go left of centre. I’ve been dabbling with cocktails recently (the Sipsmith book has been wonderful for keeping it simple but with variety and deliciousness) and have found some wonderful serves… Bees Knees, Gin Milk Punch and the Bramble are all awesome but the king serve has to be the Negroni… It’s wonderful. The diversity of it amazes me and the fact that you can change the whole drink just by altering one of the ingredients is amazing…  It’s an acquired taste for sure but one worth persevering with… Gin 71 offer this with Buckfast… but I lose my nerve every time I go to order it!

What’s the best and worst thing about being a gin blogger?

The best thing, for me, has been the people and experiences those people give.  It’s such a lovely place with so many opportunities.

The worst thing is that I worry about what I’m writing. When I do a review I really want to achieve a few things… Firstly I want something the people that sent the gin out are really happy with. Secondly, I really hope people reading it benefit in some way… I love nothing more than when people message me saying they’ve bought a gin based on a review I wrote… That’s the point isn’t it? Spread the good word of gin and thirdly I like to be creative in some way and sometimes I struggle with it maybe because my head’s not in the right place.

Who’s supported you on your gin journey?

My partner Louise has been very forgiving. She’s had to sit and wait on her drink while I take photos… She’s also been mostly not huffy when I’ve had to rewind whatever we’re watching on the telly because I was reading Twitter instead of concentrating on that programme and she carries the camera bag when my back starts to hurt!

What Scottish Gins are you looking forward to trying out next?

Well….  here are two out now that I really fancy… Hrafn and Red Door have both launched Christmas Gins and I’m Christmas daft so those have definitely caught my eye. Also the Darnley’s limited Smoke & Zest because apparently it makes an amazing smoky negroni! But longer term I NEED to try the Mackintosh Navy and Old Tom when they launch.

What plans do you have next for Gin & Beer?

My plans are simple… I need to get back to actually blogging!!! Fell off the wagon a wee bit recently. I’m intending to do a review a month (plus other features) and release it just before people’s payday so they’ve got a treat in mind for when their cash comes in! Essentially a Payday Must Have type idea… Spoiler alert.

Other than that I’m really really hoping to get to Junipalooza next year, I’ve got the Ginvent coming up and (fingers crossed) I’m hoping to take part in International Scottish Gin Day again as it was one of the highlights of 2019 for me.

Cocktails Bottle Poster Scottish Gins