‘I’m feeling supersonic, give me gin and tonic’ – Oasis
*This is a collaborative post, we received complimentary tickets in return for an honest review*
It feels these days you can’t turn a corner without seeing an advert for this festival or that festival. And much as I love the idea of a reason to get together with all your mates and drink a particular type of booze or eat a particular type of food, using the word ‘festival’ is more likely to make me immediately think ‘captive audience/excuse to hike the prices up’.
I went to a gin festival at Wylam brewery last year and whilst i did enjoy it, the token system annoyed me as you were only able to sample those gins you paid for, which meant you were more selective about what you had and couldn’t try a little bit of everything.
Olives at the Station isn’t new to us, having visited it last year and including it as part of our Wine & Beer Metro Tour and falled instantly for it’s charms. Part pub, part bistro and handily located on the platform of Whitley Bay metro station it ticks all the right boxes for a great metro pub so I was really excited when they invited us along to their inaugural Gin and Rum festival.
Set up in the courtyard was a banquet of gin and rum vendors all happy to give you as many samples of as many of their wares as you wanted then if you wanted to buy full sized drinks you could buy tokens for £5 each at the bar. So while they hadn’t completely done away with the dreaded token system, it was much, much more fair than previous festivals I’ve been to. This way, you were able to try absolutely everything (if you wanted to) before making a decision on what to spend your hard earned cash on – and you get to keep your glass too!
We went on a Friday evening and it was nicely busy, there was enough people there to give a nice buzz around the place but not so busy that you had to queue up at any of the stalls. We chatted casually with all the stall holders there and was impressed to see not only how many local distillers there are in the North East (Whitley Bay, Tynemouth Longsands and Holy Island and Alnwick distilleries were all in attendance) but also how much they supported and bigged each other up. There was certainly no local rivalries here.
It was also nice to have some rum representation there so it wasn’t just awash with gin and trying the different rums served as a good pallet cleanser, there were also a few food stalls there too for anyone who needed their stomachs lining!
As much as I liked all that we tried, and enjoyed talking to everyone and hearing their stories, particular standouts for me where the lemon drizzle gin from Sipsmith (probably the most famous brand in attendance) the Whitley Bay Gin corporation, who only do one gin but it had a real spice to it which is like nothing I’ve tried before and I really loved their moto of ‘one gin, ten different ways’. And the two rum stalls; Alnwick Rum and Old J Spiced Rum who both offered spiced rum much smoother and less sickly than the average rum you’d find in your local super market. I picked up some definite additions to my Christmas wish list that’s for sure.
Fingers crossed this becomes a more regular thing as we had a great evening and I think Olive’s have hit on the perfect balance in terms of location, amount of vendors, variation and how many people they allowed in at a time. My only complaint is that when the sellers packed up at 9pm they also shut their own bar, which is a shame as we’d have loved to have hung around for a glass of wine or a nightcap.
Whitley Bay Metro Station
Monday – Saturday 9am – 6pm