Oslo Gin Festival

Oslo Gin Festival

Oslo Gin Festival was the first of its kind in Norway. Last weekend hundreds of people gathered in the capital of Norway to taste and discuss gin, attend masterclasses, and to meet fellow gin enthusiasts.

Oslo Ginfestival glass
A balloon glass was included in the ticket price. (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)

Never before has a similar event taken place in Norway. The date was not chosen randomly. 11. June is the international gin day! I did not know what to expect. I had never been to an event like this before, and this was the first gin festival in Norway.

What a pleasant experience this turned out to be. The venue was three floors with different gin dealers. I lost count at some time, but it must have been around 20 different gin brands, and a handful of different tonic brands as well.

Oslo Gin Festival Second floor
The second floor at Oslo Gin Festival Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)

Scandinavian gins

Located in Norway, the festival had a lot of Scandinavian made gins. The Swedish brand Hernö was a delightful experience. They make a Navy Strength gin (black bottle, 57%) and a London Dry gin (blue bottle, 40,5%). To taste both was an interesting experience which illustrated how much a gin can change in taste and character by adding water and lowering the alcohol content.

Oslo Gin Festival
Hernö gin from Sweden. (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)


Moonshine from Norway

Oslo Gin Festival Himkok
HaPå gin and regular gin from Himkok Bar in Oslo. (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)

Another pleasant and fun surprise was the number of Norwegian made gins. One of the most creative Norwegian brands was the brand Himkok, made at the bar with the same name in Oslo. Himkok is the Norwegian word for moonshine or homemade spirit.

The bottle to the left has the name HaPå. This is the name of an old bread spread made from nuts and chocolate. The smell brought back old memories from my childhood.

The taste was not as characteristic as the smell, but the hint of chocolate made a very round and pleasant gin taste.

Unfortunately, their homepage is maybe the least informative page on the web, but one day I will have to visit this bar, and have a look at their gin production.

Oslo Gin Festival
Antonio Naranjo Nevares from Himkok Bar, here busy charming the ladies and presenting his gin, won the Norwegian finale in Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix . (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)

Hendrick’s gin

Hendrick’s had the coolest stand, it was filled with all kinds of paraphernalia related to the famous brand and its two main characteristics; roses and cucumber.

Oslo Gin Festival
The iconic Hendrick’s bottles. (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)
Oslo Gin Festival Hendricks
The Hendricks Cucumber. (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)
Oslo Gin Festival
A closer look at the label. (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)



Not only could you taste the gin’s, five masterclasses was also possible to attend. I chose “Ginaissancen” – The history of cocktail from 1793 to today. This was 45 minutes packed with history. The presenter was the Norwegian bartender Truls Thomsen, winner of Best Cocktail in the Beefeater World Championship 2015.

Oslo Gin festival Masterclass
Truls Thomsen, winner of Best Cocktail in the Beefeater World Championship 2015. (Picture: Anett Finbråten)

We also got three small samples to taste. Finally, I got to taste the Basil Smash, the invention of Joerg Meyer, the owner of Le Lion in Hamburg. See my blog post, Le Lion- Hamburg’s best cocktails.

[bctt tweet=”Bartenders are rock stars who didn’t bother to learn an instrument.”]

I also bought the below book. Propped with London history and famous faces I think it will be an interesting read. See the reviews at Amazon.com: Gin Glorious Gin: How Mother’s Ruin Became the Spirit of London


Oslo Gin Festival book
Gin, Glorious Gin by Olivia Williams (Picture: Bjørn Christian Finbråten)


Oslo Gin Festival 2017 – Mark the date

I had a pleasant chat with the man behind it all, Lars Madsen. He told me that the venue is already booked for next year. Mark off June 10th 2017 for the next World Gin Day and the next Oslo Gin Festival. I hope to see you there. More information can be found at www.ginfestival.no.
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