I bloody love a distillery visit.
It sort of puts things in context for me. Reviewing a gin is great (you can find the review for their signature gin here), but actually getting to see the setup, the still, chatting with the people behind it, all takes it from being just a bottle on a shelf, or a gin in my glass, to being so much more. Much more personal, and also allows me to see the process, which being the (gin) geek I am, is always a thrill for me.
Last weekend, friends and I headed into Lancashire to visit Brindle Distillery over in Lancashire. We were, sadly delayed due to a clothing mishap (there’s nothing like the zip on your jeans going when you are nowhere near any other form of clothing aside from sweaty gym gear, and having to frantically improvise to delay you), we arrived to bright sunshine and distillery pup Ralph. There may have also been a little round of applause as we finally turned up, much to my pink cheeked chagrin.
We frantically settled in, to listen to Mark and sip our raspberry laden cocktail, as both Mark and Jack proceeded to introduce us to the distillery, and the story behind it.
Brindle Distillery is home to Cuckoo Gin – one of the few (there are around eight) grain to glass gins in the UK. This means that the grain is grown on site, the spirit used to make the gin is created on site, and the gin itself is crafted on site. Even the water, used to cut the gin, cool the spirit, and for the cups of tea comes from an aquifer on site. All three of their gins, signature, Spiced and Sunshine, really are Lancashire gins.
Wandering outside, we were shown the fields where the barley is grown for the gin – last year they farmed 20 acres, this year they are planning on farming 40 acres of the 100 acre site. And nothing is wasted. Offcuts of wood from local tree surgeons and a local furniture shop fuels both the still, and keeps the building warm. The spent grain from creating the initial spirit is fed to the cattle on site, the spent botanicals to the chickens.
Returning to the warmth of the barn, we were introduced to Maggie, their still, and the mash tuns where the spirit is made. We were talked through the process involved, from grain, to mash, to spirit, to gin. Along with another glass of gin, obviously.
Even more exciting was to hear about the plans for Cuckoo going forward. Their Sundowner Rum, named for a local hero, will be released in time for Christmas. A spiced golden rum, it’s made using sugar cane, and is distilled on site. You heard it, Lancashire rum will be with us in time for Christmas.
There is also a plan to launch a whisky – again grain to glass. The Lancashire whisky will however, be years in the making (it takes three years to age a whisky), but I’ll no doubt update you about plans when the team let me know. Either way, I’m very excited to see these brand new spirits from this fantastic site.
And just when we thought we’d finished, we were introduced to the bees. Their third gin release, Sunshine, uses a little honey in the final stage, and whilst these chaps were a little dozy yet (it’s a bit cold for them) the fact that they are on site, so close to the distillery, only goes to cement their status as a sustainable distillery.
Brindle host these Gin Tours regularly, along with Workshops (where you can make your own gin) and also host a distillery tap (find details and dates here) – so whether you’re a hardened gin geek like me, or just want to dip your toe in a little bit, there’s a little something for everyone in Cuckoo country.
With huge thanks to everyone at Cuckoo for being patient with our arrival, and hosting us too. This experience was gifted for review.