Updated: Monday, 12th November 2018 @ 3:52pm

Review: Drinks Enthusiast's English Gin Evening @ Manchester 235's Fusion Bar

Review: Drinks Enthusiast's English Gin Evening @ Manchester 235's Fusion Bar

By Jess Phillips

As a Herefordshire woman, my drinks knowledge is limited to say the least.

Though I know more than most should about varying types and brands of cider, my knowledge of spirits doesn’t really ever begin.

So when I was given the chance to spend an evening getting to know one popular spirit very well with Manchester’s authority on all things alcoholic – the Drinks Enthusiast – I was already on my way.

Of course, before we could get well acquainted with our tipple, we had to delve into its history to truly appreciate its journey.

The story of English gin begins in in the late 1600’s in Holland when British sailors were fighting the Dutch. Of course, the Brits took with them copious amounts of rum but quickly discovered the secret of Dutch courage! (Yes, that’s where the phrase was coined!)

A juniper based spirit, Genever as it was then known, was drunk before battle to give the Dutch their fighting force.  

Knowing they were on to a good thing, the British sailors brought this Genever back with them but soon realised they had neglected to bring the recipe to recreate it.

Instead, they started to create ‘bathed-up gin’ — essentially a concoction of whatever they could get their hands on.

It might include the likes of mint or basil but had an alcohol volume of 94%.

Considering two out of every ten houses in London had bathtub gin, it starts to explain the scene depicted in the famous Gin Lane picture.

Created by William Hogarth in 1751, the picture shows the ruin caused by this gin, with starvation, poverty and madness.

Warpole’s government imposed a series of gin acts to combat this and introduced a heavy taxation so only the wealthiest could afford it. This culled gin production until Thomas Dakin brought his first distillery in Warrington and a new era of gin was born.



GIN COCKTAILS: Brockmans and tonic with rasberries, strawberries and mint

G+J Greenall

Though Thomas Dakin originally set up his Warrington distillery in 1760, he had to wait until 1761 before he could start distilling his first gin — Greenall’s — because of a production ban by the government.

Dakin founded this original recipe which comprises of eight botanicals including juniper, coriander, lemon peel, angelica, bitter almonds, liquorice, lavender and dill.

As our first gin of the evening – and my very first taste of straight gin – our senses were hit with this strong citrusy taste which was immediately warming. By the third taste though, the initial impact had gone and I was able to enjoy the woody, spicy aftertaste.

That said, this gin is usually used more as a mixer and coupled with tonic, lime and ice makes a refreshing tipple.

Bloom

Second on our drinks menu was Bloom. Produced in the same Warrington distillery as Greenalls, this is a much newer gin which was created by Joanne Moore to encapsulate a traditional English country garden.

After seven attempts, she found the perfect recipe which includes honeysuckle, camomile, pomelo and strawberries.

The overwhelming scent was old English scented roses and this was a much smoother taste than Greenall’s. Perfectly complimented by the sweetness of strawberries, this was my favourite.

Berkeley Square

This is another of Joanne Moore’s creations and serves the purpose of being purely a sipping gin.

Containing juniper, coriander, angelica, cubebs, basil, lavender, sage and kaffir lime leaves, this was a smooth tasting gin which I would quite happily spend an evening with.

Bombay Sapphire

This is a popular gin, likely to be spotted behind most bars.

It’s another Warrington special and is actually created in the very same distillery as Greenall’s, but is loaned out.

Allan Subin found the original Greenall’s recipe back in 1959 after it was supposedly lost in a fire.

It didn’t do so well at first, the 60s was the end of the gin craze, but in 1987 two new botanicals from Asia – cubeb berries and grains of paradise – were added to the original recipe to create this entirely new product.

It was the first bottle to be in a square shape and lists the full ten botanicals on the side of the bottle.

It tasted, unsurprisingly, very similar to Greenall’s and for my amateur palate was a little intense to be drunk straight but worked perfectly as a mixer.

Brockmans

The initial scent of Brockmans stirred a range of reactions among us tasters.

Comments included ‘It’s wonderful and pineapply’, ‘it’s like strawberry chewits’ and ‘it’s like a fruit pastille lolly’.

This sweet, fruity aroma came from the ten botanicals – juniper, coriander, blackberry, blueberry, orris, liquorice, orange, lemon, angelica and almonds which had been distilled in a 200-year-old copper still and left to soak for 24 hours.

The flavours in Brockmans are so dominant because it isn’t macerated. That means it isn’t vapour infused because the flavours are already combined.

This was smooth and fruity to the palate.

To end our evening we were tasked with creating two cocktails of our own using any of the five gins, Fentimans tonic water and the platter of garnishes which included mint, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cucumber, orange and lime.

Each was completely unique and I opted for a senorita surprise – Brockmans gin and Fentimans tonic garnished with raspberries, strawberries and a sprig of mint.

Whether you’re a tasting novice or have a developed palate, the Drinks Enthusiast’s tastings are both education and pleasure. The perfect opportunity to do something different and exciting, meet new like-minded people and sample some delicious spirits, MM only wish we could try them all.

Upcoming tastings from the drinks enthusiast include:

Liqueur-the myth on February 6, at 24 Bar and Grill, £10

Rum Shack on February 7, at 24 Bar and Grill, £10

Born in the USA on February 20, at 24 Bar and Grill, £10

For a full list of tastings visit the Drinks Enthusiast blog.

You can also follow Drinks Enthusiast on Facebook and Twitter.

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