The year 2015 will be seen as the year that Manchester itself has gained its own city based gin. Although initial production will be housed from the relatively local, yet one of the oldest gin distilleries in the world, G&J Distillers in Warrington, the new brand of Thomas Dakin gin will be a Mancunian brand complete with its own distillery within the city limits.
With the launch night been and gone, I was able to gain a glimpse of the gin itself, complete with Joanne Moore, Master Distiller at G&J Distillers, hosting an intimate tasting session. Thomas Dakin, if you are not aware, is the creator, founder and brain-child behind G&J Distillers itself, way back in 1761. It is only right then that the new expression be named after the man who started out in the distilling world when he was just 25 years old. Choosing Warrington due to its prosperous links between Liverpool and Manchester, joined together by the canal network and offering quick export of his produce to the country, Thomas Dakin became a pioneer when gin itself was seen as the ‘mothers ruin’ and the sabotage of its reputation through the likes of William Hogarth’s famous print ‘Gin Lane’.
It comes as no surprise then that over 250 years later, Greenall’s gin is still available and enjoyed to this day, after the Greenall family became the owners of Mr Dakin’s original recipe back in 1860. Since then expressions such as BLOOM, Berkeley Square and Opihr have been introduced under the stewardship of Joanne, and now what could be her finest hour, her research of Thomas Dakin himself sees his name emblazoned upon a label for the world to see.
With eleven botanicals within, including juniper, orange zest, coriander seeds, grapefruit, cubebs, liquorice root, angelica and the unique red cole (or horseradish as it’s more commonly known) the gin is created in the traditional, classic way, as seen back in 1761 within a baby pot still. The pot still itself will be uprooted and transported to its new premises, scheduled for the end of this year.
But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Thomas Dakin – 42%
Soft red cole, with hints of ripe grapefruit rind and coriander coming through. Sharp upon the palate, with a growing dry spice of liquorice and coriander. Fresh kicks of the grapefruit appear, alongside savoury notes of the juniper and the warmth of the red cole to give a long, bold finish.
A fantastic savoury styled gin, one which would work perfect for these two recipes –
Tom and Tonic
50 ml Thomas Dakin
125 ml Fever Tree tonic water
Pour the gin over a full glass of ice and top with the tonic water. Twist a 5cm strip of orange peel onto the top and garnish with a sprig of coriander.
Thomas Dakin Negroni
30 ml Thomas Dakin
30 ml Sweet Vermouth
30 ml Campari
Combine all the ingredients within a mixing glass, add ice and stir. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with an orange peel.
Liverpool and Leeds have had their own respective gins for a year or two now, and Manchester has come onto the scene with a point of difference, standing out against the normal botanicals seen as working well the traditional flavours seen back in the 1700’s. One for the drinks cabinet for sure, and expect to see this in many bars in and around Manchester.
Rich and fruity, with gentle juniper and spicy flavours, this smooth sloe gin is the perfect blend of balanced botanicals.
Best served with tonic as a Winter G&T, topped with sparkling wine, neat from a hip flask or in a hot toddy.
Price £16.00, available at Sainsbury’s and Tesco stores throughout the UK from October.
Greenall’s Sloe Gin Hot Toddy
50ml Greenall’s Sloe Gin
25ml Greenall’s The Original London Dry Gin
10-15ml Monin Vanilla Sugar syrup to taste
100ml Pomegranate Juice
Combine all the ingredients. Warm gently and serve in a toddy glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Greenall’s Wild Berry Gin
Luscious & juicy berry notes balanced with juniper and warming spice. The smooth mouthfeel lasts, leading to peppery after tones.
Price £15.50, available at Morrison’s and Tesco throughout the UK from October.
Greenall’s Wild About You
50ml Greenall’s Wild Berry Gin 25ml Lemon Juice
15ml Monin Vanilla Syrup
3 Raspberries & 3 blackberries
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a tumbler with fresh ice
Garnish: Raspberry, blackberry, lemon twist.
To celebrate the upcoming Liquor Market and the launch of the new book ‘G & J Greenall: A Spirited Story of Gin and Genius’, written by Richard Barnett and Violeta Ruiz Cuenca, I’ve five copies and five tickets to give away to spirit lovers everywhere!
The book looks into G&J Distillers, originally known as G&J Greenall, a company with more than 250 years of heritage, distilling superior spirits to perfection since 1761. The distillery in Warrington, North West England, is one of the oldest gin distilleries in the world and is the oldest continuous gin distillers in production today.
With archived photos, cocktail recipes created by myself, Dave Marsland of Drinks Enthusiast, and a detailed look into both the 250 year history and production methods for one of the most recognisable gin brands in the UK, ‘G & J Greenall: A Spirited Story of Gin and Genius’ is perfect for amateurs and enthusiasts alike.
The Liquor Market is in its second year and will be held at Elixir Tonics & Treats on Deansgate in Manchester, Saturday 27th September. The perfect place to experience a wide variety of spirits, as well as learn hints and tips on how to enjoy at home. Local bartender and photographer Jamie Stephenson will also be on hand with a curation of his work.
To be in with a chance of winning a book and ticket, simply visit http://www.gjdistillers.com and tell me who founded the company that became G&J Greenall?
Follow @LiquorMarket and tweet your answer using the hashtag #GJDistillers. Terms and Conditions apply. You must be able to attend the Liquor Market on Saturday 27th September to claim your prize.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
By entering this competition, you agree to the Terms and Conditions which can be found below.
You must be able to attend the Liquor Market on Saturday 27th September to claim your prize.
“By entering this competition, you agree to the following terms and conditions of entry: You are of legal drinking age and entering from and resident of the UK. The competition closes at 11.59pm on Sunday 21st September. To enter the competition, you must tell me who founded the company that became G&J Greenall, Follow @LiquorMarket and tweet your answer using the hashtag #GJDistillers. Five winners will be randomly selected from all complete & correct entries. One entry per person, no bulk or third party entries. The prize is one copy of the book ‘G & J Greenall: A Spirited Story of Gin and Genius’, written by Richard Barnett and Violeta Ruiz Cuenca, and one complimentary ticket to the Liquor Market, organised by Drinks Enthusiast. There are five prizes to be won, and no cash or prize alternatives. No purchase necessary. The winning entries will be drawn at random from all valid entries received before the deadline. The winner will be notified by email and no responsibility is taken for incorrectly supplied email addresses. You give consent for Drinks Enthusiast, G&J Distillers Greenall’s Gin to use your name and photograph on Drinks Enthusiast, G&J Distillers Greenall’s Gin website/social media, in association with this competition. Drinks Enthusiast reserves the right to amend, vary or withdraw the Competition at any time owing to circumstances beyond its reasonable control. This competition will be governed by laws of England & Wales. The Promoter: Drinks Enthusiast, 30 Gawsworth Close, Timperley, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA15 7EG.
Countries eligible to enter the competition: United Kingdom only.
Competition closes on Sunday 21st September, the winner will be selected at random and notified on Monday 23rd September, with delivery of the prize on Saturday 27th September at Elixir Tonics & Treats, Manchester.
I’ve featured a couple of coffee liqueurs in the past, some big names and some crafted newcomers, but one recent relaunch seems to be taking bartenders to a new level in coffee drinks, even straying away from the classic Espresso Martini.
Toussaint hails its origins from Haiti when under the ruling of France and is named after the architect of Haiti’s independence, General Toussaint L’Ouverture, effectively known as ‘The Black Napoleon’. His image adorns each bottle created since its launch in the 1990’s. To celebrate his legacy, a liqueur was created using a blend of Arabica coffee, cocoa, vanilla and liquorice, all of which were steeped in spirit.
Fast forward to 2013 and Toussaint received a revival of sorts, moving their production to G&J Distillers in the UK and tweaking the recipe so that the Arabica coffee beans are infused within three-year old Caribbean rum. The label also had a face-lift, becoming bolder and more striking than the more traditional image, with General Toussaint L’Ouverture still featured on each bottle.
So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Toussaint – 30%
Roast coffee and dark chocolate blend well on the nose, with slight sweet notes coming through. Sweeter flavours of dark chocolate appear on the palate, with a dry spice developing a fresh experience. Toffee is evident, as is ground coffee which lingers for a while at the finish.
A different flavour to what your normal coffee liqueur can bring, but it’s intriguing, which can only mean it backs up every bartender who has belief that this should be pride of place on their bar. Of course, one for yourself should never go amiss. It’s small enough to keep chilled in your fridge door too.
Have you ever been to a distillery? Have you ever looked into your favourite brand and wondered where it comes from? Have you ever wondered if every name you see out in bars or shops comes from its own distillery? It’s probably something you wouldn’t know and to be fair not many people do. There’s no harm however in knowing little facts about a spirit that your drinking or indeed favour. Say, for example, the knowledge that Sipsmith are the first distillery to be registered in London since Beefeater way back in 1820, or the fact that Glenmorangie is produced using the tallest stills in Scotland. Little bits of info like that can begin a discussion between friends, possibly even appreciate the drink you have in your hand that little bit more, or maybe even start an adventure into learning just that little bit more.
That’s how I got started.
The idea of learning not only to understand the finished spirit itself, but to appreciate and admire the craft and history that some of these brands take the up-most care in providing. One such distillery comes to mind when you talk about heritage and its diversity, and that’s G&J Distillers. For myself, it’s a name that echoes well round the North West of England due to its location. Based in Birchwood, Warrington, just 20 miles south-west of Manchester, it has been the home of G&J Distillers since 1760 when a distiller going by the name of Thomas Dakin acquired the premises on Bridge Street. He waited till 1761 though to start his new venture due to the production of gin beforehand being illegal in response to the poor grain harvests and the need for bread over gin being a greater and more pressing demand.
In the early years of Thomas Dakin’s new gin production, the outcome was basic, with gin being bottled in bulk jars to publicans and wholesalers. This didn’t stop the business from growing however and became known for its superior quality compared to the London-based gins. What we have come to associate with though came about after Thomas Dakin’s death. The name G&J Greenall was established in 1860 when the distillery was leased to Edward Greenall (the ‘G and J’ actually evolved from the initials of Edward Greenall’s younger brother Gilbert and John). Fast forward to November 1923 and the company came under the ownership of Greenall Whitley, and moved down to Loushers Lane in 1960 in line with the companies bicentenary.
In later years, the introduction of Vladivar vodka broadened the use of the G&J Greenall distillery (apparently with some fantastic marketing to go with it). More recently though, the appointment of Joanne Moore, who incidentally is only the seventh Master Distiller in the 250 year history of Greenall’s Gin, has developed two premium gins in Berkeley Square and BLOOM, a spiced offering in Opihr, limited-editions such as Sloe BLOOM and BLOOM Strawberry Cup, Greenall’s Sloe and Wild Berry, as well as keeping the original Greenall’s gin as popular as ever. The business changed ownership in August 2011 and is now part of the international drinks group Quintessential Brands.
Which brings me back to my original point – five different names, all produced at the same distillery. You would never have guessed from the name alone or even possibly by the bottle itself. Only when you dig a little deeper do you find the connection. By digging though, you also come across names such as Richmond gin, Cristalnaya vodka, Pinkster gin, Bulldog gin, Moskova vodka and Bombay Sapphire. Yes even the blue-bottle itself was produced in Warrington up until 2014.
Today though I’m concentrating on the core range of G&J Distillers. So below, I give to you a brief history and development as well as tasting notes on each.
Greenall’s – 40%
Produced using eight different botanicals – juniper berries, coriander, lemon peel, angelica, orris, liquorice, cassia bark and bitter almonds. These eight are macerated in wheat
neutral spirit and water in a pot still for at least 24 hours prior to distillation. This gives it a freshness on the nose with a citrus aroma coming through. It mellows quickly with a rather dry scent. Soft on the palate however with a smooth, buttery texture that gives off a warmth when swallowed. Dry finish with a small hint of spice.
Greenall’s Sloe – 26%
Using the traditional flavour of British sloe berries alongside the eight original botanicals. Very rich with plenty of spicy sloe berry notes coming through on the nose. Thick, heavy flavours of lively spice, juniper and vanilla on the palate, offering a smooth finish, albeit it short.
Greenall’s Wild Berry – 37.5%
Inspired from blackberries growing in the English hedgerows, combined with ripe raspberries and infused with the original Greenall’s.
Light, thin notes of blackberry coming through on the nose. Slight sour raspberry follows, with a small sweetness that seems to bind it all together. Light with a developing warmth on the palate. Heavy blackberry notes, with a ripe spice on the dry finish.
Based on a traditional London Dry Gin recipe and created in a traditional pot still, Bloom takes its inspiration from the classic aromas of England and its well-recognised country gardens and fields. It adds its distinct botanicals of honeysuckle, chamomile and pomelo to the mix to create a fragrant nose with hints of strawberry coming through after the dominating chamomile aromas. A slight kick on the palate to begin with but mellows quickly and has a dominating citrus flavour that creates a long, smooth, mouth-watering finish.
Master Distiller Joanne Moore has created a new version of her floral BLOOM Gin, using hand-picked sloe berries steeped in BLOOM Gin and distilled in a traditional copper pot still. Ripe, fresh sloe berries with hints of sweetness on the nose. Light on the palate, with a delicate experience of the sloe berries and a developing feel of soft honey. Lingering and fresh.
Joanne Moore has created a new version of her floral BLOOM Gin by steeping fresh English strawberries in BLOOM London Dry Gin.
Fresh strawberry on the nose, with a sweet underline and a slight hint of chamomile that seems to smooth the aromas. Slightly sharp on the palate, with the citrus of the strawberry coming through. Notes of the honeysuckle create a velvet feel, with the lightness of the fruits creating a lingering after-taste. A little dry and sweet.
Berkeley Square– 40%
With a category that is constantly evolving, Joanne Moore took to challenge the perception of gin consumption by creating a tipple that can be enjoyed neat. This resulted in the combination of eight botanicals – juniper, coriander, angelica, cubebs, basil, lavender, sage & kieffer lime leaves. This creates a light, earthy scent on the nose with a gentle herb aroma following through. A rather smooth offering on the palate with a slight spice that changes to a rich sweetness with hints of basil lingering. A dry end with a re-emergence of spice.
Hints of dry spice on the nose with the coriander dominating mostly. Soft beginning on the palate but develops slowly into a warmth of black pepper and cubebs. Not too spicy, but definitely present as it creates a long finish with a touch of dryness.
With rather different offerings from G&J Distillers, it only seems right to showcase different cocktail recipes to either enjoy at home or ask your bartender to create –
Greenall’s Gin and Tonic
25 ml Greenall’s Gin
50 ml Fentimans Tonic
2 wedges of lime
Take a chilled highball glass, fill with fresh ice cubes. Take of the wedges of lime and squeeze the juice over the ice to infuse the citrus flavours. Pour Greenall’s Gin slowly over the ice and lime juice. Follow with a high quality tonic using double the amount of tonic as Greenall’s Gin. Stir gently to ensure all the flavours are combined and garnish with a wedge of lime and serve.
BLOOM Gin and Tonic with Strawberries
50 ml BLOOM Gin
200 ml Fentimans tonic water
Quarter 3 strawberries and place at the bottom of a tall glass. Add ice and pour BLOOM London Dry Gin Over ice. Top with Fentimans botanically brewed tonic water.
or maybe even
Berkeley Square on the Rocks
50 ml Berkeley Sqaure
Basil leaves / lemon
Take a tumbler and add ice. Pour Berkeley Square Gin over ice and garnish with basil leaves or lemon.
Ok, so rather three very simple ideas. But sometimes a spirit doesn’t have to be mixed in a complicated way to really enhance and enjoy the flavours. The fresh strawberries added to the BLOOM compliment the chamomile and honey, whilst the basil leaves combined with Berkeley Square really draws out the notes of basil you originally experience on your palate.
I’m a firm believer in expanding your horizons with what you drink. After all, it is YOUR drink, not a bartenders. The work that Joanne Moore has done to diverse yet maintain the portfolio of G&J Distillers has done wonders to the consumer market. Even adding pre-mixers seems to be going strong – a sometimes risky move. However, the range gives an idea of the basics, yet creates something unique – something that nods back to the origins of Thomas Deacon’s time.
And to know that one distillery produces these products, and even supported the likes of Bombay Sapphire in its time, really gives you a wide-eye opening experience into the scale that companies work themselves on.