A couple of weeks ago I received an email. It was an invite to the ‘Espensen Spirit Launch’, which was taking place at 20th Century Flicks on the Christmas Steps in Bristol. The event promised food, cocktails and movies, three of my favourite things – so, obviously my response was instant.
I was already familiar with some of Sam Espensen’s flavoured drinks, having attended a Foozie event where the company was the sponsor. I was impressed with what I had tasted there and I was looking forward to the concoctions on offer at the event and finding out more on what the brand was all about.
If you haven’t heard about Espensen yet, let me give you a little insight. A range of flavoured spirits, including vodka, gin and whiskies – all made locally in St. George, Bristol; Sam has been creating and experimenting with alcohol for years, conjuring up flavours for her family and friends for fun and leaving her with lots of bottles starting to pile up at home (Sam if you ever need any help consuming your delights in the future, or a taste tester, feel free to call me).
It was a late night conversation with an ex-work colleague and good friend that kick started Sam’s vision into a business and alongside Phil Gillies, #TeamSpirit Spirit was born.
I arrived at the charming 20th Century Flicks excited about the evening ahead – and it did not take me long to get stuck in (like it’s hard to enjoy drinking). I was warmly welcomed with a cocktail on arrival and couldn’t help but think the quirky, unassuming venue fitted perfectly for the launch of this one-of-a-kind business. The flavours on offer included Gin Genie (Blueberry Gin), Ruby Cuby (Rhubard and Custard Vodka – yes you did read that right!), PG Sips (Pink Grapefruit and Raspberry Vodka) and Pump up the Jam (Raspberry Gin). The bottles that the spirits come in are unbranded and are made of Italian glass – something you can keep and reuse afterwards.
The cocktails were delicious, especially the ‘Gin Genie Blueberry Cheesecake’ and the ‘PG Caipirodka’, they were different and a little bit special. Accompanied by delectable canapés from Papadeli and films showing in the Kino (20th Century Flicks has their own private cinema) the evening was unique and one not to be forgotten quickly.
Espensen use fresh, seasonal fruits with no artificial preservatives. This was apparent in the flavours; upon trying both the Gin and Vodka neat, there were no signs of a burning after effect or wincing at its strength, because the alcohol was extremely smooth and easy to drink. This could be dangerous.
After chatting with Sam, what really struck a chord with me most about the brand was the story behind it. Unfortunately, Sam did not have a great childhood and suffered a challenging upbringing; this resulted in her being diagnosed with PTSD (post—traumatic stress disorder) only last year. Sam and Phil use this business to raise awareness for issues surrounding mental health and I could only admire them greatly for channelling this into their passion and applaud Sam’s bravery in being so honest about her experiences. Sam was bright, bubbly and to be honest I couldn’t think of a better companion to enjoy these glorious beverages with. A donation of every sale will also be made to various local charities that Sam supports.
For me personally, a Gin fan, I do have to say that Gin Genie was my favourite of the bunch – I am definitely going to be getting my order in and not sharing it. However, I would strongly advise you to try them all and choose your favourite – the sore head was well worth it!