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 a few facts about a spirit that you’re drinking or indeed favour.
Say, for example, the knowledge that Sipsmith are the first distillery to be registered within the London City walls since Beefeater way back in 1820, or the fact that Glenmorangie is produced using the tallest stills in Scotland.
Little bits of information 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 upmost care in providing.
One such distillery comes to mind when you talk about heritage and its diversity, and that’s G&J Greenall.
For me, it’s a name that echoes well around the North West of England due to its location.
Based in Warrington, just 20 miles south-west of Manchester, it has been the home of G&J Greenall since 1760 when a distiller going by the name of Thomas Dakin acquired the premises on Bridge Street.
He waited until the following year to start his new venture due to the production of gin being illegal due to poor grain harvests and the need for bread over gin.
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 G&J Greenall today came about after Thomas Dakin’s death.
The name G&J Greenall was established in 1860 when the distillery was leased to Edward Greenall
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 company’s bicentenary.
In later years the introduction of Vladivar vodka broadened the use of the G&J Greenall distillery.
More recently 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.
Which brings me back to my original point – three 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 connectionn as well as other names such as Richmond gin, Cristalnaya vodka, Moskova vodka and Bombay Sapphire.
Today though I’m concentrating on the core range of G&J Greenall.
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.
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 botanical scents 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.
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.
With three rather different offerings from G&J Greenall, it only seems right to showcase three different cocktail recipes to either enjoy at home or ask your bartender to create.
Greenall’s Gin and Tonic
25ml Greenall’s Gin
50ml Tonic water
2 wedges of lime
Take a chilled highball glass, fill with fresh ice cubes. Take one 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
50ml BLOOM Gin
200ml Fentimans tonic water
Quarter three 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.
Berkeley Square on the Rocks
50ml 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, while 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 bartender's.
The work that Joanne Moore has done to diverse yet maintain the portfolio of G&J Greenall has done wonders to the consumer market.
To know that one distillery produces these products, as well as other widely known brands like Bombay Sapphire, really gives you a eye-opening experience as to the scale that companies work on.