I don’t consider myself a gin lover, but I’ve enjoyed enough gin & tonics and negronis in the past years to have gained an appreciation for this beloved spirit. Well, almost. I have never once tried enjoying gin in its purest form, choosing instead to mix it with soda water and syrups and lime. I guess I just like my alcohol the way I like my parties—with tons of things going on and can make me last a few more minutes before the dizziness hits.
So when The Tasting Club offered a Gin Tasting Masterclass with the local craft distillery behind ARC Botanical to be enjoyed in the comfort of my home while under quarantine, there was no way I could have said “no.” How could I skip an opportunity to learn more about this award-winning brand proudly made in the Philippines, and learn precisely how to appreciate drinking gin without all the bells and whistles?
The class I virtually attended was hosted by Master Distiller Matthew Westfall of Full Circle Distillers who talked about the years they’ve spent perfecting their gin recipe that showcases the beauty and tropical flavors of the Philippines. And what they’ve come up with is three different kinds of spirits that I would come to adore individually: the wonderfully fruity and floral ARC Botanical Gin; the richer, more intense ARC Barrel Reserve Gin; and the Lava Rock Vodka that’s naturally filtered over lava rocks from the Taal and Mayon volcanoes.
Since I’m not a drink-it-straight kind of gal, each neat shot I took was a punch to the senses and an explosion on my tastebuds. Naturally, I gravitated the most towards the Botanical Gin which I was astounded to learn is crafted from 28 botanicals, 22 of which are foraged across the Philippines—including fruits like pomelo, calamansi, and mango, and flowers like sampaguita, ylang-ylang, and kamia.
It got even better once we were taught by The Tasting Club Founder, Kevin Charuel, how to craft the perfect Gin & Tonic with the tonic water and dehydrated spice garnishes they provided in our Masterclass kit. Then came my favorite part of the night: drinking my cocktail with my feet propped up and munching on some good cucumber sticks with my cream cheese and French salmon spreads, also provided to us in our kits. It’s like they knew just how to best pamper us on a cool Saturday evening after a long work week!
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This Gin Tasting Masterclass was a truly refreshing experience that I was fortunate enough to be part of. It may be long before I get to hang out with friends at my favorite club chatting with the bartender about their favorite cocktail recipe again, but at least I get to indulge in a gin-tastic drink of my own making at home in my pajamas, serenaded by my Spotify playlist, with a renewed appreciation for the tropical flavors of my country.
What’s your favorite way to drink gin? Let us know in the comments!