I first met Ben at The Gin Society do at Manchester Cathedral a few weeks ago. Ben is the commercial and sales manager of Bashall Spirits, based in the Ribble Valley village of Bashall Eaves. Proud of their name and heritage, they produce four distinctive gins: a London Dry, Orange & Quince, Damson & Elderberry, and Parkin Cake Gin. After a short correspondence, we meet at Manchester’s Atlas Bar which is home to more than 400 gins and a fitting venue if ever there was one. We chat away over coffee while Ben provides me with four sample bottles, each expertly monogrammed with a marker pen and corked with Lilliputian stoppers. Our farewells made, I wend my way home and deposit my booty with thirsty anticipation.
It is a week or so later when I finally sit down to taste each gin armed only with pen and paper, a small Liqueur glass and a glass of water to cleanse the palate between sips. I start with the London Dry which forms the basis for all the others. The London Dry process ensures that it’s made from a neutral spirit of 96 per cent alcoholic volume to which the botanicals are infused while the gin is being re-distilled. Bashall London Dry Gin has 11 botanicals including cranberry, elderflower and caraway as well as inspiration from local plants including those at the nearby Moor Piece Nature Reserve. My tasting notes list warm, sharp and singular.
It is a sophisticated gin able to be drunk neat with a splash of tonic or in a bone-dry martini. Meanwhile, the Damson & Elderberry is sweet with a good combination of fruits while the Orange & Quince is bitter on the tongue with a strong hint of orange in the finish. The orange is from a 1750 recipe for ‘marmalet’ found in the family stable. The Damson & Elderberry is also from a family recipe emphasising both the Bashall name and heritage. Both are equally drinkable neat or with a mixer. I fancy the Orange & Quince would be great in a tumbler of OJ. There are more Bashall recipe gins in the pipeline.
Six glasses in and The Winslow Boy is on the telly. I must admit that my comprehension of the narrative is as fuzzy as his defence. I end with a few slugs of the Parkin Cake Gin. It is based on another family recipe from the days of Victoria and as warm as a log fire on Bonfire Night, gold in colour and full of treacle and ginger. This would be perfect neat with a cube of ice as autumn turns to winter, all brown leaves and bonfires. As I finish my tasting, The Winslow Boy is found to be innocent thanks to the good grace of Manchester’s own Robert Donat. This gives me a warm glow of satisfaction at right being seen to be done. Or is it the Parkin?
As well as all the films of Donat, I can highly recommend all Bashall Gins, developed with the help of the distilling knowledge of a postgraduate student from Herriot-Watt University and the enthusiasm of Bashall Spirits co-founder, Fiona McNeill. She said recently that as well as expert knowledge you need to “make sure that you’re passionate about what you’re doing”. As I rest my taste buds and close my eyes for a post-tasting nap, I think they are good words to live by and it shows in these excellent gins.
By Robert Hamilton, Gin Correspondent
Bashall Spirits are kindly offering 10 per cent off to Northern Soul readers. Click the link bashallspirits.co.uk and add the code NS2020.