5 great Cheshire gins you should know about

Camino Gin, the label design is inspired by the yellow arrows marking the pilgrim trail

Camino Gin, the label design is inspired by the yellow arrows marking the pilgrim trail - Credit: Tom Cartwright

Meet five of Cheshire’s proudly creative gin distillers, flying the flag for this most independent of counties 

Cheshire is a hive of inventiveness and industry, so when gin became a thing, we shouldn’t be surprised that residents of this inspired and inspiring county decided to do it their way. This month, we meet five examples of what happens when confidence meets commitment, hope triumphs over challenges, and style combines with substance. 

The Edge Gin 

Michael and Clare stand in front of a wooden door, his arm round Clare

Michael & Clare Ryan, The Edge Gin - Credit: Lost in Cheshire

Owners: Clare and Michael Ryan 

What made you decide to launch your own gin? 

Mike and I have been fortunate to have been able to have travelled the world extensively over the last 18 years due to working on cruise ships as entertainers. But after so long at sea we wanted to come back to the UK and throw ourselves into a new challenge. While away at sea we were quite oblivious to the Gin boom that the UK was experiencing and because we already loved gin we decided this would be our next perfect chapter in life.  

Where is your distillery and have you named your still? 

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Mike and I are from Alderley Edge, however we've sadly unfortunately never found the right space for our distillery in Alderley Edge, but have just moved into a new location at Alcumlow Hall Farm, in Astbury. Since 2018 we have had two column head stills and because of our love for Alderley Edge and the local legends of the wizard of Alderley Edge our stills are called Merlin and Arthur. We are just about to get two more column head stills, making it four in total, so we are currently mulling over what we should name our new ones. 

What key botanicals, other than juniper, give your London Dry Gin its distinctive taste? 

A key botanical we use is wolfberries, otherwise known as goji berries, and these are our largest botanical after juniper berries. These small raisin-like berries are a super fruit and along with our blend of 10 botanicals, our London Dry is a delightfully crisp gin, with a delicate sweetness and distinctively smooth finish. The full list of botanicals is: juniper berries, wolfberries, coriander seed, orange peel, lemon peel, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, angelica root, and nutmeg. 

What flavoured gins have you launched and why did you choose these particular ones? 

Black bottle with orange strip on base of label to indicate orange flavour

The Edge L'Orange, using fresh orange zest and dried orange wheels to infuse the flavour - Credit: Lost In Cheshire

When recipe testing for our flavoured gins we tasted lots of other brands to compare. We found that a lot of flavoured gins can be very sweet, so we decided we wouldn't add any sugar or sweeteners. You can always add sweetness with your choice of mixer or garnish so this was our preferred route.  We use our London Dry Gin botanical recipe as a base for each of our flavoured gins but with the addition of the fruits we use for each gin, which are pre-soaked for 24 to 48 hours in the neutral grain spirit, before we distil by a process called vapour infusion with the rest of our dried botanicals.  Our first flavoured gin was Orange Gin, aka The Edge L'Orange. We use a whole lot of fresh orange zest and dried orange wheels to flavour this gin but it's just enough orange so as not to overpower the delicately smooth Dry Gin. After that came our Pear Gin and we made this because there are very few Pear Gins on the market, so it appealed to us as it was something a little different. We use dehydrated pears which come through really nicely in both aroma and taste, which goes alongside a lovely hit of juniper with citrus and delicate warming spice that gives balance and builds through to the finish. In 2021 we launched our delicious Pink Gin, a fruits of the forest gin. We use blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries for this gin. It smells gorgeous and there is a slight burst of sweetness from the berries, but crisp juniper still shines through.  

What plans do you have for 2022? 

Now that we are at Alcumlow Hall Farm we will be offering gin tasting experience and distillery tours. We will also launch our fifth gin, which will be a Navy Strength. 

theedgegin.co.uk

Capesthorne Gin & Kuro Gin 

Owner: Craig Fell 

Portrait of Craig Fell Capesthorne Gin

Craig Fell, maker of Capesthorne Gin and Kuro Gin - Credit: Lost in Cheshire

What made you decide to launch your own gin? 

I have worked in branding and design for around 20 years and worked as a Creative Director for the last ten. I had the pleasure of bringing other spirits to market for clients and fell in love with the process. I loved the idea of going full circle from working in bars and making drinks as a student to then providing a premium spirit to the bars, whilst encompassing my other passion, design. 

Where is your distillery and have you named your still? 

Our distillery is nestled in the Cheshire countryside on the Capesthorne Hall Estate in Siddington. We launched the distillery and the Capesthorne Gin range during lockdown and was always in our plan to have our own distillery since launching the Kuro brand in 2017. We used to make our gins at other people's distilleries while we saved and self-funded the launch of our own.  We are now in an 18th century barn on Turnock Farm, part of the Capesthorne Hall Estate; it feels like a time capsule being here. We have a 400L hybrid still called Penelope. When we moved here we started to look into the history of the estate and Capesthorne Hall. The estate was owned by the Ward family since 1348, but when in 1748 the owner John Ward died he had no male heir and the manor passed to the Davenport family through the marriage of John Ward’s daughter Penelope to Davies Davenport, a cousin of sorts. Capesthorne is still owned by the Bromley-Davenport family today. 

What key botanicals, other than juniper, give your London Dry Gins their distinctive taste? 

Rows of gin bottles - London Dry clear, Rhubarb & Lavender is purple and Raspberry & Blueberry is pink

Capesthorne Gin, all 'unequivocably British' - Credit: Lost in Cheshire

Capesthorne Gin uses lots of lemon and cubeb Pepper. Kuro is much less typical and uses bamboo leaf, silver birch bark and spruce needles alongside nutmeg and cinnamon. It was inspired by a skiing holiday in Japan, resulting in the very distinct Japanese botanicals. 

What flavoured gins have you launched and why did you choose these particular ones? 

We have two flavoured gins in the Capesthorne Gin Range, both are unequivocally British and rural in nature; Capesthorne Raspberry & Blueberry Gin and Capesthorne Rhubarb & Lavender Gin. 

What plans do you have for 2022?  

Lots! We are going to be adding flavoured gins to the range for KURO Gin and we have a Potato Vodka in the pipeline too. We also want to stat to use the distillery space and tasting bar a little more to host small intimate events. 

cheshiredistillery.com & kurogin.co.uk

Camino Gin 

Owner: Tom Cartwright 

Tom Cartwright holding a bottle of Camino Gin in a meadow with blue skies above

Tom Cartwright was inspired by the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail - Credit: Tom Cartwright

What made you decide to launch your own gin? 

I was inspired by my 500- mile pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago to create something as a homage to the route. In addition to my love of artisan spirits and craft industry this seemed a perfect way to try and bottle the “spirit of the way” using botanicals that can be found foraged along the route. 

Have you named your still? 

The Pot still is named Ruth after George Mallory’s Wife (Mallory was from Mobberley and is the inspiration for Big Hill’s Spirit of George Gin)

What key botanicals, other than juniper, gives your London Dry Gins its their distinctive taste? 

Camino Gin has 13 botanicals unique to the Camino Frances, the particular route I walked. Prominent botanicals include: nettles, figs, wild cherry bark, lemon balm, lavender, bilberry fruit, and citrus fruits. The gin is very floral on the nose, and a lovely layering of citrus, fruit and herbaceous on the palette. 

bottle of camino gin - label inspired by yellow arrows that mark the pilgrim trail

Camino Gin; botanicals include nettles, figs, wild cherry bark, lemon balm and lavender - Credit: Tom Cartwright

What flavoured gins have you launched and why did you choose these particular ones? 

At the moment I would like to stick with creating contemporary dry gins, but would love to experiment with barrel ageing and perhaps a Pilgrims strength gin in the near future. 

What plans do you have for 2022? 

Many! We will be doing plenty of events and overcoming the challenges presented by Brexit, and getting the product established along the routes of the Camino in Spain. 

caminogin.com

3 Pugs Gin 

Owners: Christine & Stephen Ditchfield 

What made you decide to launch your own gin? 

We attended a speed gin tasting event in the summer of 2015, and after listening to Karl from Forest Gin, I made the bold statement that we should make our own, the rest is history. 

3 pugs in a row

Pepsi, Tutu & rescue pup Mojo, the inspiration behind the 3 Pugs Gin brand - Credit: Joanne Photography

Where is your distillery and have you named your still? 

We began in a garden shed that my husband built on our decking area, 3M x 3M, the concept began in November 2015, the distillery was built in 2016 and we sold our first bottle in November 2016.  We moved to premises in Warrington in November 2018. We named our first still ‘Silverback’ a nod to our silver status in life, along with the tenacity, passion and values of the gorilla. 

What key botanicals, other than juniper, give your London Dry Gins their distinctive taste? 

Basil and Orange for our Signature London Dry. Pepper and Kafir Lime for our Dark Days London Dry, a new gin we developed during the first lockdown 2020.

Three bottles of 3 Pugs Gin

3 Pugs Gin: Dark Days London Dry, Signature London Dry, and Blackcurrant. - Credit: 3 Pugs

What flavoured gins have you launched and why did you choose these particular ones? 

We launched our Blackcurrant Gin in 2017, we chose this flavour as it is sharp, tart, intense and powerful, we use our Signature Blend as the base – it’s one of a kind. We also have an evolving collection of gin liqueurs, which includes Lemony Sherbet, Candy Floss, Bubblegum, Bakewell Tart and Apple Crumble. 

What plans do you have for 2022? 

Hopefully we will still be here, we are looking into export markets whilst dealing with changes to our bottles due to lack of supply, don to Brexit 

3pugsgin.co.uk

Forest Gin 

Owner: Karl Bond 

Karl Bond, founder of Forest Gin, pours a classic serve

Karl Bond, founder of Forest Gin, pours a classic serve - Credit: Lost in Cheshire

What made you decide to launch your own gin? 

Gin wasn't a particularly popular drink back in 2013, and the choice was pretty poor. We began as amateur home distillers, and it rapidly turned into a business. 

Where is your distillery?   

We began distilling in our kitchen in 2013, but are now located in a 17th century stone barn in the heart of Macclesfield Forest. 

Signs to the distillery

Forest Gin has based their distillery in the heart of Macclesfield Forest - Credit: Lost in Cheshire

What key botanicals, other than juniper, give your London Dry Gins their distinctive taste? 

We distil using botanicals that we pick from the forest, including wild bilberry, raspberry, gorse flower, pine, fern and moss. We're not on mains water, so all water used comes from our own ancient spring in the forest. 

What flavoured gins have you launched and why did you choose these particular ones? 

We are not particular fans of flavoured gin, but we do offer an infused gin called Earl Grey Forest Gin. This is distilled in the same way as our traditional gin, but we then infuse Oolong tea, bergamot and cornflowers into it. The resulting gin is a rich, dark colour and has delicate notes of Earl Grey Tea. 

What plans do you have for 2022? 

We've refurbished the Cat & Fiddle, up on the hills above Cheshire, and it is now officially the UK's highest altitude Whisky Distillery. It is a huge project, but we can now offer gin and whisky tours and tastings up here. The gin tours can sell out three months in advance, so to have the extra space means that we can welcome more visitors and show them what we do. 

theforestdistillery.com