In the 8 months since the I attended the launch party, Manchester has seen Three Rivers Gin go from strength to strength. From hosting booze events all over the city to being featured in a Tom Hiddleston fronted GQ magazine, and even winning a prestigious Gold at the Distillery Masters Awards 2017. I’ve given them time to settle down and was delighted to be invited to take part in their gin tour – a fully immersive educational journey around the distillery itself. And any educational tour that involves booze is a winner in my eyes!
On arrival I was welcomed by Ryan our Tour Guide for the evening who greeted me in the best way possible; with a signature serve Three Rivers G&T garnished with marinated apricots and rosemary. Once everyone had arrived and settled into the chilly railway arch unit, the lights went down and a big screen was lit with a perfectly produced short film. The video sets the scene of the industrial history of Manchester, moving on to the inspiration and innovation behind the gin and the name, and how the distillery (the first of its kind in Manchester) fits into the modern day times of this historical city. It’s powerful, poignant and extremely northern; it really gets you in the mindset of the guys producing this phenomenal spirit and makes you feel proud to be a part of their process.
Lights back on and with a sneaky G&T number 2 in hand, Ryan leads an interactive talk about the history of gin – with its origins taking shape in Holland with Genever, through to the “Mother’s Ruin” gin revolution and gin parlours in London, up to the modern day and how the recent leniencies on laws in gin production have led to an explosion of small distilleries. Ryan was so engaging, and informative, using the ipads in front of us to really add to the experience. Even with my background in hospitality, I still learnt a few new things but the information was accessible and he was easily able answer all of the questions thrown at him by the rest of the group.
After the boozy history lesson, I headed downstairs to meet Angel – the distilleries stunning Arnold Holstein still copper pot still. I definitely didn’t ask if I could climb inside her, nope, not at all…she’s huge! I was guided through the different stages of the gin production within Three Rivers and the laborious efforts they go to to maximise consistency and the highest quality product possible over the 13 hour distillation process. It’s here you can see the passion and why they’ve already got awards just 8 months after launching! Next it was onto the bottling and labelling processes – where everything is done by hand. It’s incredible to see it’s all a complete labour of love between the Master Distiller, Dave Rigby and just the two other employees who make the magic happen.
Back upstairs – this is where the fun really kicked in as I was to be guided through making my own bottle of gin. With over 100 botanicals to chose from to make your own concoction it was pretty daunting as to know where to start, but Ryan was a gentleman and had the patience of a saint in helping my indecision . Everyone started with a base of juniper, angelica and orris root (the big three in all dry gins) and then left to your own devices to create your own special blend. It was very much like something out of Breaking Bad with all the scales, spoons and conical flasks, but that added to the charm and fun of it all. I eventually decided to opt for rose petals, star anise, black pepper and vanilla as my flavours. To get the perfect quantities we were recommended to start with 0.5g of each, sniff, see which flavours are dominant or submissive and build from there. While my spirit was in the hands of the gin gods and well into the distillation process with no point of return, out came more cocktails! It was a tough choice of aviation or negroni; two of my favourites! Both made with the house pour and perfectly made to show off the spirit in the best possible way. Within a matter of a few cocktail minutes (so probably about 20) my gin was really to be bottled up and labelled. Back at the bar, I had opportunity to input my own unique recipe into the Three Rivers archives – able to be stored forever so if I ever fancied a batch of my own spirit then it can be run off any time I like!
With the tour drawing to a close there is the opportunity to buy a full size bottle of the gin at a special discounted price – something you won’t get offered anywhere else. Everyone came away with a handy tote bag to put our own gins in and to help represent and spread the word. At £95 per person, this may seem like a lot – but how many nights out do you go on where you come home sufficiently well lubricated, with a head full of knowledge and a full size bottle of gin to bring home!? Money seriously well spent in my eyes!
Word and reputation of the gin is taking over the city – with Three Rivers representing all the local Gin Festivals and they’ve got some exciting exclusive dining experiences in the pipeline with some of the best restaurants in the city…sign up to their mailing list to keep in touch with all of their goings on…they’re certainly ones to watch!