NEW Milton’s Forest Arts is hosting its first ever Festival of Spirits next Saturday from 12 to 6pm.

The event showcases more than 18 gins, including five distilled in Hampshire & Dorset, alongside whiskies, vodka and rums.

Helen Cundy, director of Forest Arts said: “We’ve tried to focus on the local region when we were contacting distillers.

"We’re very fortunate, Hampshire and Dorset are home to some fantastic ‘craft’ distillers, who are producing small-batch gins and vodkas.

"We’ve selected brands that you can’t buy in the supermarket too – we wanted this to be a real ‘voyage of discovery’ and perfect for people who have tried a couple of the new gins around and are keen to sample more.”

There has been an explosion in new distilleries over the last ten years – the most noticeable are the gins, but there are also new whiskies, vodkas, rums, brandies and liqueurs appearing on the market every year.

Amongst the 18 gins on offer at the Festival, Forest Arts are featuring gins from Conker, Pothecary, Lilliput and Fordington Gin – all based in Dorset.

Conker Spirits is produced at Dorset’s first gin distillery, nestled in the back streets of Bournemouth. With ten botanicals providing the unique flavour, including Dorset elderberries and samphire and gorse flowers that are hand-picked in the New Forest – this is a classic, smooth dry gin.

Forest Arts has also organised a range of entertainment. There will be a chance to meet local distillers and learn more about their products in the bar whilst the theatre will have table seating and live music throughout the afternoon.

Local performers Bad Cat, Krista M Green and Emma Blake and Tom Gwyther, all starred in the venue’s Green Room Live summer sessions, and are back by popular demand with acoustic sets.

Dr Kathryn Harkup, author of ‘A is for Arsenic – The Poisons of Agatha Christie’ will be expanding on the subject – giving a potted history of all the classic poisons.

She is joined by The Travelling Talesman – a performer of folklore and legend, with a decidedly dark theme. He’s performed in front of 2000 people at the Jorvik boat burning ceremony and is a regular at Wickham Festival and he has promised to share his most ‘spirited’ stories with our audience.

The £10 ticket includes four samples from the range of spirits, Forest Arts will also be selling tokens that can be exchanged for drinks with mixers. Strictly over 18s only. Buy tickets online at or call 01425 612393.