I was meant to attend The Gin Society do at Rochdale Town Hall but Storm Dennis put paid to that. Luckily, seven days later, I find myself at Manchester Cathedral on slightly better terms with the weather. That said, living at the Hilton end of Deansgate I had to negotiate the Saturday night nightmare that the main thoroughfare has become. No matter the weather, it’s a draw for scantily clad women in ill-fitting shoes and gangs of blokes in cheap shirts and cheaper aftershave drinking like it was the eve of the apocalypse. By the time I got to the cathedral, I needed a gin. A lot of gin.
Eschewing the queues at the British, World and Fruit Gin stands, I head to St James’s Chantry for a drop of the hard stuff. My first encounter is with Ben from Bashall Spirits where I sample a London Dry Gin of “soft sweetness and elegant character” that lingers well on the palate. This new distillery is based at the family estate in the village of Bashall Eaves in the impossibly picturesque Forest of Bowland. The 11 botanicals which make up this Lancashire gin are mostly foraged from the Moor Piece Nature Reserve. The company makes a good range of gins including an Orange and Quince Gin based on handwritten marmalade recipes found on the estate and dating back to the 1850s. Hamiltonic is looking forward to a longer sampling (and review) later.
I move on to Cariad Gin made by the Clwydian Range Distillery in the valleys of Halkyn Mountain, North Wales. It is a family-run business including eight tortoises, one of whom decorates the logo. A couple of neat shots of its Blackcurrent Gin and Marmalade and Bay Leaf Gin make me forget the weather as well the human Saturday night fever. I remember noting that the Marmalade Gin would go very well with my morning cereal.
I stop for a chat with Tim and Sherwin from Manchester’s Tarsier Gin which I reviewed last year. They give me a shot of their new Oriental Pink Gin. It’s a sumptuous mix of red dragon fruit, lychee and raspberry that can only add to their growing international reputation.
After a quick pit-stop for a palate cleanser of Sir Robin of Locksley and tonic (it’s what made Robin and his men merry I hear), I move on to another local product, Stockport Gin. This is the creation of family duo, Paul and Cheryl, and based in Compstall. I chat to Cheryl over a taste of their dry gin and a Twist of Lime edition. She tells me it is a newish kitchen and shed operation that sells mainly at Selfridges and online. I can highly recommend it and I hope to catch up with a full review of Stockport Gin soon.
Finally, I speak to Laura from Dippletipple who is on the stand of Riverside Spirits where I sample a passion fruit gin liqueur. It is quite simply delicious and so very moreish that I ask for another – and Laura obliges. Hamiltonic hopes to hear more from Riverside Spirits and Dippletipple.
Finally, I take my leave of The Gin Society, fortified against the wind, rain and weekend zombies, relatively armoured and immune to the Deansgate chaos. Gin will do the trick every time.
By Robert Hamilton, Gin Correspondent