Investment from dragons, new distilleries and tourist attractions
A decade ago, there were only a small number of leading go-to gin brands such as Gordon’s, Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire, but now a new generation of local gin producers has emerged, each with a speciality and a unique recipe.
There are dozens of new gin varieties being produced in and around Greater Manchester and Cheshire with almost every village, town and suburb having a gin to their name.
But life has expanded beyond the gin bottle and as well as drinking it, customers are now demanding a more immersive gin experience, and three locally produced gins; Thomas Dakin, Didsbury Gin and Manchester Gin are all poised to deliver this year.
Thomas Dakin Gin
Construction has begun on a Thomas Dakin gin distillery and visitor experience on Lloyd Street, which is expected to open in early Autumn 2019.
The experience will bring the craft gin-distilling process to life for the 70,000 visitors who are expected in the first year alone. They will be able to witness three working craft copper pot stills behind the distillery’s impressive glass frontage, which have the capacity to produce over one million bottles of gin every year. The new venue will also incorporate a gin distillery bar and space for hospitality events and private entertaining.
Thomas Dakin was an 18th century visionary who pioneered the development and refinement of quality English Gin and set the benchmark for London Dry Gin. In 1761, at the age of 25, Dakin bought a property on Bridge Street in Warrington and founded what would become the oldest gin distillery in England.
The Thomas Dakin Distillery is expected to become one of the city’s top new tourist attractions and will create more than 50 jobs.
Manchester gin-thusiasts Mark Smallwood and Liam Manton created Didsbury Gin in 2017, but recently took on their biggest challenge yet, on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den.
The craft gin makers had three minutes to pitch their plans to the show’s five resident multi-millionaires in a bid to convince them to invest their own cash in the craft gin company. After some initial banter, Liam and Mark were offered £75,000 for 33.3% of their business from ex-career banker-turned-business specialist and entrepreneur Jenny Campbell (pictured above with Liam and Mark) who has a well documented love of gin and even has a gin bar in her own home.
Jenny promised to help scale up the business and reduce costs to increase production of the gin, enabling them to offer the right price point to take their product to the bigger retailers and restaurant and bar chains. Since the show was recorded in April 2018 Jenny has already guided Liam and Mark through a rebrand, as well as legal and financial advice, and they are now just days away from announcing a number of listings with some of the UK’s biggest bar groups.
“Didsbury Gin is all about Mark and Liam,” said Campbell. “They instantly drew me in with their charm and I thought this could work. I also went to school in Didsbury so I thought that was a good omen."
The couple behind Manchester Gin, Jennie Wiggins and Seb Heeley, have made great strides since they started producing small batches of gin from their home in 2013.
Plans are currently in place for them to move their business into a 5,300 square foot site in the Grade II-listed railway arches beneath Manchester Central on Watson Street. Designed in collaboration with Up North Architects, plans include space for a brand new 1,000-litre still distillery, plus an accompanying bar and restaurant.
The Manchester Gin experience, which is hoping to be open by late summer/autumn, will include tutorials, talks and gin master classes. By scaling up their business, the new venture will create around 30 new hospitality jobs.