Manchester is a city where things happen. Before it revolutionised a 90’s club scene or delivered a smorgasbord of kitsch independent eateries and bars, Manchester gave rise to a steam revolution, the birth of a great great great ancestor of the computer I’m writing on today or the splitting of the atom. Long and short of it, Manchester is the place where people do. A cosmopolitan city of culture filled with the hustle and bustle of the dreamers, the doers, the make shit happeners. People pour into the city on a daily basis to work, shop, eat or drink and it’s been the starting platform for many a success story.
Speaking of drink. Tied irrevocably with Manchester in many ways, Three Rivers Gin are one of the cities success stories. Taking their name from the three rivers that played such a pivotal role in the development of the city, you’ll find the distillery of Three Rivers Gin close to the banks of the River Irk on Red Bank, in the shadow of Angel Meadow and in the heart of the city.
When I was invited to take part in a Gin Experience I flashed back to my very own gin experience; a litre bottle of gin washed down with tonic one evening with Terri Lowe and a hangover to end all hangovers. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t do much to put me off gin and as I devoured a Three Rivers Gin (& Tonic) garnished with rosemary and gin soaked apricots, I knew why. I love it. But I know absolutely zilch about it.
The completely renovated “industrial chic” space not only houses a bar and 450litre custom made copper pot still “Angel” (made by one of the world’s finest manufacturers of distillation equipment, Arnold Holstein) its also home to the Three Rivers Gin Experience. Love gin? The Gin Experience, priced at £95 offers visitors to the distillery a a unique opportunity to learn about the very roots of gin, the company itself and gain an understanding and appreciation of gin. Like I need a reason to appreciation gin more, eh? Turns out there’s a lot to learn about the wonderful stuff.
We were welcomed to the distillery by the Master Distiller, Dave Rigby before being put in the very capable hands of Ryan, Dave’s deputy and tour extraordinaire. We were firstly introduced to the gin itself, Three Rivers is made using a pure grain spirit and developed by Dave after he wanted more than the gins available on the market, is distilled using 11 botanicals; Juniper, coriander, vanilla, black peppercorns, orris root, angelica, orange peel, cardamom, cinnamon, almond and (in another nod to Manchester’s industrial heritage) oats.
The gin itself is a layered taste, full of flavour but smooth to drink which works perfectly with a good glass o’tonic and a classic garnish.
We were then taught about the illustrious, sometimes dark and unquestionably intriguing history of gin before being introduced to Angel and learning more about the distilling process from start to finish.
As well as gaining an understanding of how gin’s diverse flavours are concocted, and wetting my whistle throughout with various classic gin cocktails including a G&T, Negroni and Aviator, we were allowed to put our teachings to good practise on the Harry Potter-esque mini copper pot stills. With Ryan’s guidance we were talked through the creation of our very own bottle of gin. Forming the base of our gin with pre measured spirit, water, juniper and ‘fixers’ (orris root and angelica) we were then left to select our own botanical and to then sit and wait for our gin to distil. Half an hour later and voila, a 42% proof 700ml bottle of gin made by my own fair hands.
The Gin Experience lasted around 3 hours in total and made for a deeply immersive, interesting and enjoyable evening. The team at Three Rivers Gin and extremely passionate about what they do which is something that is apparent throughout the evening. Whether you’re a gin fanatic yourself or you want to treat the gin lover in your life to something other than socks or perfume for a gift, I’d most definitely Three Rivers Gin as something to experience.
& if you’re not in the market for the entire tour, may I recommend picking yourself a bottle of their wares. The proof is, as they say, in the pudding. Or gin, for that matter.