‘I went to the East London distillery previously named UK’s best gin producer and it didn’t disappoint’ – Ayokunle Oluwalana

I have never really been a gin man in all honesty. I’ve steered clear of gin and tonics most of my adult life and it has been a decision I have stood strongly by. I never thought I was missing out as I enjoyed the wonders of spiced rum, so drinking gin hasn’t been something that excites me.

Going to the relaunch of an award-winning gin brand would be a curious decision then, but you’ve got to broaden your horizons sometimes. As I headed to Haggerston, East London, I was nervous as to what to expect. How would I possibly get through an evening tasting something I do not like? It was certainly a concern but going in open-minded, I prepared to immerse myself in the wonders of gin.

Finding 58 and Co. was an interesting task in itself. Set underneath railway arches, the venue looks the part. The high arches add to the trendy feeling and you are given the sense that you are somewhere special. As you walk in you are greeted by a huge mass of gin distillery equipment protected behind a window – on this launch we were also treated to a live DJ performance. A DJ playing tunes in what looked like a mad scientist’s lab is a sight I had never seen before.

Seeing a DJ playing while locked away in front of a distillery machine? An unforgettable image

READ MORE: The London bar that serves the best gin and tonic in London for only £6.20

58 and Co. pride itself on its ability to be part of the community as well as being a sustainable business. Solar panels adorn the ceiling above the distillery equipment and I was amazed to learn that the 58 and Co. distillery is run on 100% solar and renewable energy.

Of course, the highlight was the range of gin that is produced from within the distillery. Three flavours: London Dry Gin; Apple and Hibiscus; Navy; as well as their new Triple Distilled Vodka, 58 and Co. cover all bases. As I approached the bar I was eager to try each and every flavour, within different mixes and get a feel for it. I could not have been any happier with my decision.

58 and Co. from the outside is certainly a beautiful sight

58 and Co. from the outside is certainly a beautiful sight

Whether it was a gin and tonic with the London Dry, a cocktail incorporating the Apple and Hibiscus, or a Martini using the vodka, every drink went down smoothly. Every sip got better and I had to remember I was there to work or else things could have spiralled. I’ve had gin in the past but this was certainly a new and refreshing experience; they had made me a lover of gin. Those are words I never thought I’d type.

Another cool aspect of 58 and Co. is the fact they offer a gin-making school. People are able to sign up and take a three-hour class where they learn about the process of making their own gin. The class is highly rated by people, and a reviewer on TripAdvisor wrote: “Fantastic experience, really enjoyed it and the gin that I made was actually quite nice so they can teach anyone!” After making your own gin, you are given a chance to take your recipe home and have that made to order whenever you want.

Seeing a DJ playing while locked away in front of a distillery machine? An unforgettable image

Sadly, I wasn’t able to take part in any class during my visit but will definitely be trying my hand at it. Tasting the Apple and Hibiscus made me a lover of gin so if I was able to make my own twist on that, I would be in for a winner. The gin making tools were on display and my curiosity kept rising whenever I caught a glimpse of them – simply looking at them made me want to use them. You also get to keep the recipe you create and can order your own unique gin whenever you want. Simply sublime.

I spoke to the founder, Carmen O’Neal, whose passion instantly shone through. She explained to me how much time and effort she put into the rebrand, why she is so proud of the B-corp status the business finally achieved and what it means to see so many people enjoying her gin. 58 and Co. have won a number of awards for their gins and received top reviews for their gin school, making it a perfect experience for couples, and friends, if not everyone.

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I’m Ayokunle (Ayo to most) and I’m a Community Reporter at MyLondon covering community stories around London and human-interest stories. I started in October 2021 and since then I’ve covered a range of topics spanning all of London.

Three stories in the last month that I’m particularly proud of are:

I was born and raised in Hackney and I came back from living in Sydney, Australia in 2020 which was a positive but stressful experience (Due to Covid). I do enjoy London but my knowledge of it for someone who has lived here his entire life is pretty shameful – that is why this job is ideal.

You can contact me at [email protected]

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