Emily Says . . . . ‘MFDF18’

The Gin Lounge

In her tenth feature under ‘Emily Says . . .’, the voice to the Manchester bar scene in Emily Puckering looks at the MFDF’s Gin Lounge;

The Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2018 is currently underway, and as always, it has a fantastic range of new foods and drinks to offer. Created back in 1998 by Phil Jones, the original concept was to demonstrate that Manchester has much more to offer than just, I quote, ‘meat pies and gravy’! Over the last twenty years, MFDF has achieved a national status whilst watching the drinking and dining scene of Manchester be transformed into the incredible industry it is today.

Naturally, my attention was immediately stolen by the drinking side to MFDF this year, in particular the Gin Festival put together by the Gin Lounge. For two days only, The Gin Lounge held an exclusive event showcasing some of the UK’s favourite gins. With the number of gin distilleries soaring across the UK, the choice of what gin to drink is becoming endless, so The Gin Lounge put on display some new faces to the world of gin.
For any gin enthusiast, The Gin Lounge put on a spectacular event. Sponsored by Fentimans, a range of flavoured tonics were on hand at all times to mix and match with the different gins tasted, ranging from a standard Indian tonic to a Valencian Orange tonic. An ice and garnish station provided an array of herbs and fruits that were designed to complement perfectly each unique gin available. Gin cocktail stands and a gourmet food van finished off the event beautifully, offering something for every gin lover.

As a representative of the North and in particular, Manchester, I found myself leaning towards the Manchester-based distilleries that made an appearance at this year’s gin festival. Three major Manchester distilleries really caught my eye during my time here at the gin festival, so here are the ones that I would truly recommend in indulging in:

The Gin Lounge 2

Didsbury Gin

Created in the heart of Manchester’s Didsbury, Liam Manton and Mark Smallwood went out to create a citrusy twist on the classic London dry gin under just two years ago. Inspiration was taken from the botanical gardens of Parsonage and Fletcher Moss that date all the way back to 1919 since been gifted to the people of Didsbury by a quintessential English village.
Using traditional artisan methods and infusing modern botanicals such as hand-peeled fresh citrus and juniper, Didsbury gin offers a zesty and fresh drinking experience, with strong notes of citrus fruits such as lemon and grapefruit. These citrus notes allow the gin to be easily drank neat, and is mixed beautifully with Fentimans Indian tonic water.
The Raspberry and Elderflower edition of Didsbury gin is something truly outstanding. Rather than a standard raspberry gin (or more commonly known as ‘pink gin’), the elderflower balances out the usual sweetness that is associated with raspberry flavours, delivering a fruity yet crisp gin.

The Gin Lounge 3

Thomas Dakin Gin

A Manchester gin that dates back centuries, Thomas Dakin is surely the household name for gins in the North West. All the way back in 1761, Thomas Dakin began distilling gin in Warrington at the age of twenty five. With Dakin’s inventive and modern outlook upon the distillation process, he created a high quality English gin, despite the negative attitudes towards the distillation of one’s own gin at the time.
Styled around the classic London dry gin, Thomas Dakin is a juniper-led gin created with the use of eleven botanicals. Those botanicals include juniper, orange zest, angelica, grapefruit and English coriander seeds. Whilst the recipe itself remains a well-hidden secret, the knowledge of the botanicals used backs up perfectly the drinking experience that Thomas Dakin provides.
Sweet and citrusy notes dominate the overall flavour, which are beautifully backed up by the spicy and earthy notes provided by botanicals such as angelica and coriander. Mixed with Fentimans pink grapefruit tonic water.

The Gin Lounge 4

Manchester Three Rivers Gin

Manchester Three Rivers gin is exactly what the name says. It is named after the three rivers that ran through the city before Manchester’s famous canals took over: Irwell, Irk and Medlock. It was these rivers that pumped life into the city and allowed for its many industries to develop and thrive.
The distillery was located close to the banks of Irk, which is what inspired the name for this Manchester gin. The area has a rich history of creativity and production, and Three Rivers has certainly paid homage to the area with their fantastic creation.
Produced by hand in small batches only by master distiller Dave Rigby, Three Rivers is a well-balanced gin using eleven botanicals, including vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom and almond. Overall, the gin delivers a smooth drinking experience with a slight sweetness on the tongue. It is finished with a spicy black pepper kick, all thanks to the use of cardamom. Three Rivers was mixed perfectly with Fentimans Connoisseurs tonic water.
Manchester Three Rivers also offers an exclusive Gin Experience, allowing one to distil and bottle their very own unique gin in the Three Rivers distillery.

Thomas Dakin

Thomas Dakin Bottle

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
Tom and Tonic

Tom and Tonic

Glass –


Ingredients –

50 ml Thomas Dakin
125 ml Fever Tree tonic water

Method –

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.

Or perhaps,

Thomas Dakin Negroni

Glass –


Ingredients –

30 ml Thomas Dakin
30 ml Sweet Vermouth
30 ml Campari

Method –

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.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Bombay Sapphire Glasshouses

I’ve been quite honoured recently. The brand new Bombay Sapphire distillery, located at Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire, opened its doors at the start of October, but I, alongside other distinguished publications, had the opportunity to be guided around by the team on site and see the unique set up that Bombay Sapphire have been working on for the last few years.

Many of you have experienced Bombay Sapphire in some shape or form, with myself personally using the brand within my work over the last few years. But to truly appreciate the brand and its history, Laverstoke Mill holds the key, with heritage and modern times combining subtly to create an impressive visitor attraction that can rival some of the best the UK has to offer. The former corn mill that dates back to 903 AD and is marked in the Domesday Book of 1086, has been transformed into an interactive tour that explains the intricate creation of Bombay Sapphire from grain to glass. But the idea and concept is seen as more leisure based as you are encouraged to relax and explore at your own pace.

Bombay Sapphire Dry Botanical Room
Botanical Dry Room

The first idea is to unwind around the River Test which runs straight through the distillery. On a dry day you can enjoy a gin and tonic, Bombay style of course, sat overlooking the natural course of the river and historic buildings that bank it. Indeed, learn how the buildings started within the Heritage Room with many historic images and publications that show how Laverstoke grew over the years. Following this, the impressive Glasshouses (created by Thomas Heatherwick, the gentleman behind the London 2012 Olympic cauldron), one holding the tropical botanicals, the other the Mediterranean that Bombay Sapphire use, is sure to encourage even the novice of botanists to appreciate the beauty of each as you see in full bloom the likes of Grains of Paradise, almonds, angelica and the all important juniper berry.

The Botanical Dry Room dives into each ingredient more closely and involves a mix of sensory experiments and challenges to truly understand why each ingredient was chosen and has stood the test of time. The scale of the production can be summed up within the Dakin Still House (named after founder Thomas Dakin) where you can learn about the unique vapour infusion distillation process that Bombay Sapphire utilise. To finish, you come full circle and experience not only the history of Bombay Sapphire, but gin in general as the Gin Academy shows off a range of glassware, bottling’s and a comprehensive timeline of the important milestones that the brand has contributed to the gin category.

The distillery experience really dives into not only Bombay Sapphire, but gin in general as it looks to de-mystify the category to all levels of drinkers. Its unique glasshouses are a sight to see, and make you truly appreciate the botanicals within the gin, something you easily gloss over at other distilleries.

If you are lucky, you may meet and enjoy a cocktail by Sam Carter, Bombay Sapphire Senior Ambassador. When I visited, two specially created cocktails to celebrate the move from Warrington (their original home), down to Hampshire were offered –

The Laverstoke
The Laverstoke

The Laverstoke

Glass –

Balloon or large wine

Ingredients –

50 ml Bombay Sapphire
15 ml Martini Extra Dry (autumn season), Rosso (winter), Bianco (spring), Rosato (summer)
15 ml Bottlegreen elderflower cordial
100 ml Fever Tree ginger ale

Method – 

Pour the Bombay Sapphire, vermouth and elderflower cordial into a balloon glass. Stir with a bar spoon, then squeeze and drop a fresh lime wedge in. Add cubed ice and stir. Pour ginger ale in and gently stir. Garnish with second squeezed lime, two slithers of fresh ginger slices and a sprig of mint, grouped together on one side of the glass.

as well as,

Sublime Moment
Sublime Moment

Sublime Moment

Glass – 

Tumbler or Martini

Ingredients – 

50 ml Bombay Sapphire
25 ml Fresh Pink Grapefruit juice
15 ml Vanilla seed sugar syrup

Method – 

Squeeze the fresh pink grapefruit juice into a cocktail shaker. Pour in the Bombay Sapphire and vanilla syrup and add cubed ice. Shake hard and fine strain into chilled tumbler or Martini glass. Garnish with grapefruit twist or wedge.

Personally, get yourself down there. Words and photos do not do this venue justice, it’s just quite simply a fantastic idea to really open up not only a brand, but a category in ways that get everyone involved.

For more information on Bombay Sapphire, please see my feature on the brand. For more photos of my trip to the distillery, check out my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

G&J Distillers

G&J Greenall Range

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'sGreenall’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.

BLOOM – 40%

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.

Sloe BLOOM – 28%

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.

BLOOM StrawberryBLOOM Strawberry Cup – 28%

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.

Opihr – 40%

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.

Sloe BloomWith  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

Glass –


Ingredients –

25 ml Greenall’s Gin
50 ml Fentimans Tonic
2 wedges of lime

Method –

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.

or perhaps

BLOOM - Gin and Tonic
BLOOM – Gin and Tonic

BLOOM Gin and Tonic with Strawberries

Glass –


Ingredients –

50 ml BLOOM Gin
200 ml Fentimans tonic water
3 strawberries

Method –

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

Glass –


Ingredients –

50 ml Berkeley Sqaure
Basil leaves / lemon

Method –

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.

A round-of-applause and the raise of a glass to them

Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.