Hear ye! Hear ye! Clangs big bell. To all the gin lovers and the friends and families of gin lovers, you really need to read this. We have discovered the perfect gin gift for this Christmas. Or any other time of the year come to that.

The Experience

The Manchester Three Rivers Gin Experience has just been voted No.1 ‘Top-Rated Tourist Attraction in the UK after Premier Inn used TripAdvisor data to find the nation’s favourite places to visit. Not bad, when you consider the breath of attractions, we have available on this small island.

We recently visited the City of Manchester Distillery, on the edge of the Green Quarter to indulge ourselves in their 3-hour experience. This would culminate in us leaving with a bottle of gin, distilled by our own fair hands. Now, I have blended my own whisky before but I have never distilled anything, so myself and the pal I had taken with me, were quite giddy with excitement.

Because of the demand from people wanting to attend this popular event, the team have had to expand into a second railway arch on Redbank to be able to accommodate everyone. In the original base they have a capacity for twelve gin lovers, but the additional arch means they can now host up to thirty people.

We were first to arrive and were met by Manchester Three River’s, Louise Rivers-Hull, PR & Brand Director and one of the original co-founders of the marque. She showed us to the bar, where we were furnished with our first perfect serve Gin & Tonic of the evening and introduced to our expert gin host for the evening, Joe. Why do my G&T’s at home never taste this good?

Angel The Gin Still


Aviator Gin Cocktails

The History of Gin

Once our fellow distilling students had arrived and been similarly furnished with a drink, we were all asked to take a seat and watch a specially commissioned video presentation. The film detailed the history of the spirit and how it is interwoven with Manchester’s industrial heritage. I’m very proud of this noble city as it is and the passion contained within the video actually brought a proud tear to my eye.

When the lights came up, I noticed many others dabbing their eyes too. We then followed Joe downstairs to gaze in awe at the shiny, copper gin still, affectionately known as Angel. This is in honour of the area’s old name, Angel Meadows. We sipped on a violet infused Aviator cocktail, whilst admiring Angel’s smooth curves. Costing more than a small house, this piece of kit was imported from Germany and now master distiller, Dave Rigby, makes between 200 and 500 bottles of gin a day. All of which are labelled by hand. This is handmade, small batch gin making at its best.

The original vision for the brand, Joe explained, was that Manchester Three Rivers would work on three levels. It had to make a cracking gin and tonic, banging cocktails and to be a good sipping gin. Big brands like Gordons and Beefeater had only managed the first two but now small batch distillers have started to produce spirits that work just as well on their own, as they do in a cocktail or when paired with a mixer. In order to prove how good Three Rivers is, Joe passed round naked measures of the gin for us to taste. To me it was as good as a 12-year-old malt, which would be my normal straight-up tipple.

The Distilling Kit


Botanicals For Flavour

Distilling Our Own Gin

Then it was time for the main event. We were taken a couple of doors down the arches to the new distilling room, to make our very own gin. The large room holds around thirty mini stills and on two walls there are around fifty jars of botanicals. We each bagged a still and whilst we awaited further instructions, we were served another gin and tonic. Oh, if you insist.

As well as the stills and botanicals, we all had a brilliant bit of software which divides the elements you use in to flavour brackets, e.g. floral, citrus, spice etc and then how much to use of each. It really is a minute amount that you need for one bottle, so this programme is great for preventing merry distilling students making undrinkable gin. As you go along the computer builds your recipe and then stores it, so that you can order it again in future.

I wanted to make a Christmas gin, so that idea formed the basis of my recipe. A touch of allspice, a pinch of orange, a speck of almond, a shake of nutmeg and a sprinkle of oats. Before you think I’ve gone barmy; the addition of oats makes your gin a much smoother drink. Who knew?

Once distilled and decanted in to our bottles, we wrote the recipe on our labels, applied them and then Joe tested the ABV, as in what percentage proof it was. Most mainstream gins are around the 40°,Mine was 46°Wow! Obviously, I will drink it responsibly.

Our Mini Gin Stills


Someone’s Chuffed With Her Gin

Our Own Recipe Gin

Clutching our bottles, we bobbed back to the original arch, where we were thanked for coming with a champagne and gin cocktail. After which we wobbled off into the night and made our respective way homes. I think my Uber driver loved hearing my enthusiastic retelling of my evening, as he asked me for the website address and said he would buy an experience for his wife for Christmas. Either that or he was desperate to get this gin-soaked woman out of his cab.

Would we go again. You betcha!I have to say we had an absolutely belting night. Very slick, very professional but with a genuine warmth. The cost at £95 per head may on the face of it sound a bit dear but, you get three hours of fun and education, you learn a new skill and drink quite a lot of gin whilst you are doing it. Let’s not forget, you also get your very own 70cl bottle, made to you own unique recipe, to take home with you. If you think about it a bottle of Manchester Three Rivers usually retails around the £35/40 mark, so with everything else that you get as well, it is excellent value. I can guarantee if you bought someone this as a gift, they would think you were the most wonderful human on the planet.

We were guests of Manchester Three Rivers but as always, the review and opinions are our own and unbiased.




Photos: © Taste Today. Do not reproduce without permission

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Lanique – Luxury Rose Spirit


One of the most intriguing products I found have found recently is a rose spirit, with a very regal pedigree, called Lanique. This delicately pink-hued tipple was originally produced for a princess in 17th Century eastern Europe and contained Attar of rose petals, harvested from the Far East. It became a favourite of the wealthy and was imbibed right through to the Roaring Twenties. Sadly, it all but disappeared at the outbreak of the Second World War and the gathering Communist tide in the Eastern Bloc countries.

Eventually the recipe was rediscovered and a band of Polish bartenders arrived in the Channel Islands in the ‘80’s, bringing Lanique with them. It was soon a firm favourite with visitors and locals alike and Jersey based entrepreneur, Lawrence Huggler, who owns hotels and other businesses including Bohemia Bar & Restaurant, decided to buy the brand. He then designed a new bottle and label that would echo the majestic background of the drink. Love Drinks were brought on board to build the brand and launch it into the UK drinks market.

We first tried Lanique at this year’s Northern Restaurant and Bar show and fell in love with it. Rose to me has always been one of the scents and tastes of an English summer. Lanique is a versatile spirit and can be used in many ways. On the rocks with tonic or lemonade, with English sparkling wine or prosecco and in cocktails. The Lanique signature serve is over crushed ice, with a wedge of lime and a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of soda. The sharpness of the lime making the perfect counterpoint to the sweetness and perfume of the rose.

Lanique very kindly sent me a bottle but we decided not to just sample as a drink, although we did that too, but to cook with it as well. We wanted a recipe that encapsulated all the tastes of summer. See what we came up with below. Please give it a try and let us know how you get on.


Poached Strawberries with Rose Spirit Syrup and Vanilla Panacotta


Poached Strawberries with Rose Syrup
• 300g Strawberries, hulled and halved
• 60g of Caster Sugar
• 30ml Lanique Rose Spirit
• 30ml of Water

Vanilla Panna Cotta
• 1 Vanilla Pod
• 4 gelatine leaves (a vegetarian alternative can be used)
• 600ml of double cream
• 80g of caster sugar


1. Place the caster sugar, Lanique spirit and water in a pan and bring to the simmer. Add in the strawberries and poach gently for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

2. Soften the gelatine in cold water according to the instruction.

3. Bring the cream, vanilla seeds and sugar gently to the boil in a heavy-based saucepan.

4. Add the softened gelatine leaves to the pan and stir to dissolve them. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the mix to cool and infuse for about 5 minutes

5. Once cooled slightly, strain the cream through a close sieve or muslin and pour the mixture evenly into six pudding moulds and place them in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour

6. To serve. Dip the pudding moulds into a pan of hot water for about 3 seconds, then turn them upside down in the centre of a plate so that the Panna Cotta slides out. Handy tip. Place the plate upside down over the mould then flip the right way around.

7. Arrange the strawberries around the Panna Cotta, garnish with sugared rose petals and serve with a cold glass of Hush Heath Balfour Rosé English sparkling wine and Lanique. Summer time at its best.

You can buy Lanique online at Ocado,, Amazon and Trade enquiries can be directed through Love Drinks at

We were gifted the bottle of Lanique but as always, the review and opinions are our own and unbiased.


Photos: © Taste Today. Do not reproduce without permission

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