A round-up of locally produced gins to get you through the rest of 2020
Loved by everyone from Jay Gatsby to Corrie’s Audrey Roberts - not to mention the queen (who likes hers with Dubonnet), gin has shaken off its image as a crime-spawning ‘diabolical liquor’ that (allegedly) inspired mothers to abandon their children and turn to prostitution to become the classy, hipster tipple of choice for the 2000s.
Gin (and its side kick tonic) was originally medicinal, being used to treat everything from rheumatism to malaria. If you really want to push your excuses, its key botanical, juniper (or genièvre in French, where the name comes from), is an antioxidant - so your weekly tot could also be keeping you young.
Whether it’s a hankering for the good old days, an obsession with Britishness, or a desire to shop local that has kept craft gin high on our sip lists, its popularity isn’t waning just yet.
Here is an extensive list of locally made gins to try in 2020 and beyond.
Once a decrepit and derelict area akin to Hogarth’s gin alley, the rise and rise of Ancoats has been the talk of Manchester and beyond in recent years. Ancoats gin was inspired by a cluster of blackberries growing from a crack in a derelict red brick building in the area. This gin comes in a much more bee-jou range than most with a choice of just two bottles, blackberry or raspberry gin.
Inspired by the botanist and herbalist Joseph Evans who prescribed gin as medicine with the words 'Drink & Sing into the night, in order to restore red cheeks and smiles', Boothstown gin is distilled by the people at Worsley’s Coal & Cotton to a traditional recipe in their in-house pot still.
A batch of gin knocked up in co-founder Liam Manton’s front room was the starting point for this beloved local brand - under the umbrella of Alderman’s Drinks. Together with his partner Mark Smallwood, this pair of G&T lovers have built a strong range of locally produced gins using ethically-sourced fruits and botanicals to flavour their bright, vibrant and zesty creations. Their latest development is gin in a tin for the ultimate portable pick me up.
This unholy range of London dry gin dressed in gothy, matt black bottles is created by Grail Craft Distillery up in Saddleworth - closely connected to Donkeystone craft beer brewery. Using far flung as well as locally grown ingredients, Doctor’s Favourite features ginseng and gingko biloba and another in the range, Byzantium, boasts pistachio and damask rose.
If you've ever seen a pretty flower growing through a crack in the pavement, or shuddered at a novel coronavirus sweeping across the planet, you'll have marvelled at the defiance of nature. This was one of the inspirations by this Manchester-distilled gin which was recently crowned best in the world at the San Francisco World Spirits competition 2020. Foraged spruce tips, sweet cicely and tangerine root are the star botanicals in this one.
Established in 2015, this range is named after the leap of faith that Filipe Sousa took in bringing his family over to Manchester from Portugal before upgrading from a copper still in the kitchen to a larger designated distilling premises and following his gin-spired dreams. This range of gins in oversized brown medicine bottles include dry gins and gin liqueurs in a range of flavours from cold pressed coffee to white chocolate and raspberry.
Hardworking NHS workers have been in the spotlight more than ever this year, and the fact that this doctor and nurse couple have found time to make gin in their spare time too puts those of us who spent furlough time failing to make sourdough to utter shame. Created in Manchester but inspired by founders Paul and Becky’s Cumbrian roots, the botanicals used include elderflower, lavender and rose to create a floral gin with a distinctive pearlescent haze.
Everyone by now is familiar with Salford brewery Seven Bro7hers, a septet of male siblings whose individual areas of expertise slot together seamlessly to form the ultimate family business. But did you know that there are another four talented siblings in the family? These four sisters are behind this Salford made, small batch distilled, hand bottled and labelled gin. Together with their brothers, they make 11, the largest family of direct siblings in the alcohol world.
Distilled in the hat capital of the north, Stockport, Hatters gin is a family business that has all hands on deck for careful bottling, labelling and wax dipping. This gin takes advantage of local produce using berries, roses and honey all from just down the road in Marple. The hand drawn label artwork is also designed by local tattoo artist 'Made By Jayne'.
Named after St Mary’s Church tucked away just off Albert Square where one of the founder’s grandparents met and fell in love - there’s a lovey account of this story on their website if you want to know more - Hidden Gem is a true family business with husband, wife and kids all mucking in. Key botanicals include rosemary inspired by the aforementioned grandparents’ garden, apple from their own (when in season) and milk thistle which is often used to prevent hangovers.
Manchester chaps Craig Fell & John Thomson created this gin as an homage to the breathtaking Japanese Alps where they enjoyed a skiing trip together back in 2016. The name comes from the Kurobishi run high in the mountains and the pair painstakingly worked through 40 different versions before they found the gin to truly capture the mountainous air they were after.
When Three Little Words opened its doors in 2019, it was one of the more architecturally stunning new venues we’d seen in a while. Housed within three enormous railway arches round the back of Deansgate, the venue’s central feature is gin made on-site in huge, eye-catching copper stills. The latest addition to the range is its first limited edition, festive inspired ‘Winter Spiced Gin’ which is now available to pre-order and can be drunk hot or cold.
By far the longest standing gin on our list, Warrington lad Thomas Dakin established his distillery in 1761 when gin was still trying to improve its unseemly image. It’s a classic juniper-forward dry gin with citrus notes but has the unusual addition of red cole aka horseradish. Notably, Thomas Dakin’s daughter-in-law Margaret became the world’s first female distiller in 1809.
This little number is infused with vanilla, cinnamon, almond, oats and perfumed cardamom to create a smooth, dry gin. Its name comes from the three rivers of Manchester, The Irwell, The Medlock and The Irk. Well we’re not irked by this lovely creamy gin, Dave Rigby and his pals’ ode to Manchester’s ‘industry, innovation and creation’.
Recently touted as one of the best places to live outside of London, leafy Worsley is where this eponymous gin is distilled. Based upon three main principles - taste, scent and molecular structure, botanicals include juniper, pink grapefruit, mandarin leaf, coriander, dandelion, buttercup, rose and a few secret ingredients.
This portmanteau moniker comes from the words zymurgy (the study of scientific brewing) and emporium (a shop). As you can imagine, this lot don’t just make gin but all sorted of brewed and distilled libations. In fact, they started out in 2013 as Britains’s first (and, then, only) ‘craft meadery’. Shortly after that in 2014, they started distilling and now have a range of gins and gin liqueurs to suit pretty much everyone. Flamingo pink? Marmalade? Cocoa? They’ve got you.