We were fortunate to be gifted the chance to go and learn about and distill our own gin whilst in Liverpool at the one and only Liverpool Gin Distillery.
The Gin Lab Experience
During our Liverpool staycation, we were invited to the gin lab experience, which let us tell you is certainly an experience. The setting – the Liverpool Gin Distillery bar – is the most beautiful bar we’d set foot in for a while. The lighting and atmosphere was great, the decor and furniture, the ambiance and staff. It was a dream. After having a quick drink, and learning about the 250 gins and whiskies they had on offer, our experience started.
Not only did we learn about the history of gin as a spirit – where it gets it’s name from and it’s reputation in Britain. gin gets it’s name from the juniper berry which gives it its flavour, but did you know, it was originally medicinal. OK, so that’s what happens to most of our favourite alcohols (probably not Baileys), but gin was. The Dutch in the 1600s started producing the spirit to drink called genever – and the English ruined the name by calling it gen. Typical! What with the change in Corn Laws, and lack of social mobility (you can tell Jess is a history teacher, she thrived off this), gin became more popular. It eventually became known as mother’s ruin in the 1700s after the taxes put on distilled spirits drove the sales of gin underground. People would sell their clothes and furniture in order to afford gin.
Although its popularity decreased over time, the Navy and the home front in World War Two kept gin going. It was only in the second half of the 20th century that British gin improved. It wasn’t until 2008, after several years of lobbying, England’s first official gin distiller’s license was granted, since 1820. Since then, gin has seen a rise in popularity like never before. The chic setting and delicious gins on offer from the Liverpool Distillery just go to show this.
We had an amazing time learning the process, and they kept us supplied with the four different gins that they make, matched with their different flavour tonics. Jess’ favourite was the lemongrass and ginger served with chilli and cucumber!
We were taken through the back of the bar to a laboratory, which housed some distillers, but first, we met our ingredients. Gin, to be gin, has a standard three ingredients: juniper, coriander seeds and angelica root. We were then given pots of other things to smell, and were allowed to choose up to five more to flavour our own gins. What was most exciting was that we got to make our own bottles – not just share. Which was good because we both went in different directions. Jess chose a summery lemon and elderflower flavouring, and Tim went for a more wintery ginger, grapefruit and cassia.
We were given advice of how much of different ingredients we should include but the real amount was up to us. It was important we kept careful note of them as they then keep them on file if we ever want to order more! Next, we met our stills – named after the Beatles, the owner and a couple of famous friends (Cilla!). Jess used Paul and Tim used John. Legends in the making! Next, we checked the ethanol was in the stills and added our ingredients. We heated them up and when they condensed it collected into a pot. We got to taste it to check it… goodness me the almost pure ethanol was intense! The final step was to add water to dilute it, and to check it’s abv %.
The last and most difficult part for us was to pick a name. The decisions and puns were endless. We got to print a label and pour our gins into their beautiful Liverpool gin distillery bottles. We then wax sealed the tops and finished our final gins. It was exciting, interesting and the best way to celebrate Tim’s birthday! Thanks for having us!
Tim’s Osama Gin Laden, and my Let The Evening Be-Gin looked excellent! We were so lucky to be so well looked after, it was such a great time. We got to take our finished bottles, complete with their own Liverpool Gin Distillery labels, home with us. Wax sealed an all! It’s such a great way to learn more and actively do too. It makes a perfect present or afternoon’s experience if you’re in Liverpool! You can look in to the range of experiences they have on offer and buy tickets here.