If you went to school in Manchester, chances are you went to Styal Mill at some point on a school trip.
Maybe you went like I did in junior school, dressed as a Victorian child, scribbled with chalk on a slate, and worried about the threat of punishment with a cane or dunces hat.
Or maybe you went, like I did again, in secondary school. No dressing up, but more of an understanding of mill conditions, child labour, and perhaps a grudging realisation that you didn’t quite have it so bad really.
Either way, you might want to visit again, because nearby there now lies a gin distillery.
(Yeah, I know, you were wondering where the connection was, weren’t you?)
Tarsier Gin takes inspiration from Southeast Asia – the Philippines (biggest gin drinking country in the world), Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, and uses botanicals native to those shores including kampot pepper, galangal, Thai sweet basil and these little pretties, calamansi (a cross between a mandarin and a kumquat).
And Tarsier is a real labour of love. The botanicals are macerated overnight – then the distillation is a one shot distillation, over 5 hours, before being diluted to the right strength, and rested for two weeks. Each run of the still produces around 50 bottles at a time.
When they’re happy with the flavour, it’s bottled – and again, it’s all done by hand. Corking, waxing, labelling, signing. The label itself is a hand drawn image of a tarsier, created by a young Filipino artist in Bacolod, over the course of a year (they really are perfectionists) it was turned into the distinctive label for their gin.
As for the spirit, neat it’s got that classic spirit sweetness that comes from a copper pot still. Then juniper, coriander and pepper, the latter just catching the tip of your nose. On the palate there’s a sweetness, oily mouthfeel, spice and a lingering juniper and herbals. Every mouthful has you reaching for something different and the same can be said for the G&T, there there are layers of citrus, ginger and spice, and depths of marmalade bitterness at the end. With the ginger, spice and citrus, it’s one that’s going to keep me entertained for quite a while.
If you’re looking for a local gin, that’s just a little bit different, this little monkey might just fit the bill.