Bespoke flavours, artisan techniques…and tours and tastings too. The McAvoy sisters are go
THE McAvoy family never do things by halves. And we’re not just talking about the Seven Bro7hers Brewery, whose acclaimed ales are downed by the pint-load at their popular Ancoats beerhouse.
Also part of the largest sibling roster (eleven in total) working in the drinks industry worldwide are the Four Sis4ers - Kerry, Hayley, Kate and Lucy - whose gin distillery and school has now expanded from a small corner in their brothers’ brewery to its own home in Waybridge Enterprise Centre.
We wanted an authentic and honest gin, less intense than the traditional London gins with no alcohol burn
The sisters share a restless ambition, attention to detail and commitment to home that obviously runs in the family. Not content with the success of their signature gin, cannily curated to prosper in a cutthroat juniper spirit marketplace, they also produce bespoke versions; flavoured with the likes of strawberry, lime and thyme, caramel espresso and passionfruit and cardamom. Upcoming is a special limited edition passion fruit and ginger gin to celebrate this June’s Salford Pride and its Pink Picnic, a percentage of sales from which will be donated to LGBT causes (they’re even planning a collaborative gin beer with their seven brothers).
No cutting corners either. Each is distilled using the laborious and meticulous ‘one shot method,’ with individual flavourings sharing a muslin bag at the top of the copper still with the core botanicals (juniper, coriander, angelica, orris, cassia, liquorice, almonds, mastiche, lemon, orange and blueberry). Less artisan, more commercial ventures just use a botanical concentrate in the process - while the cold compound method has producers macerating various botanicals in juniper-based neutral spirit after distillation.
That’s never going to happen with the Four Sis4ers, determined from the onset a couple of years ago that theirs would be a craft product: light and fragrant, thanks to that muslin bag, rather than a full breakdown of the powerful botanicals (in a nod to sustainability, these are not discarded but put back into the environment).
“We wanted an authentic and honest gin, less intense than the traditional London gins with no alcohol burn,” Lucy McAvoy tells us. “Slow distillation brings out the smoothness we seek and emphasises the almond and orris root hints. With the flavoured gins, we add a second infusion of the appropriate flavour post-distillation. Strawberries contribute the acidity of the fresh fruit plus each infusion causes a subtle colour change, which is attractive.”
Each of the sisters has a role to play in the operation, with Hayley as the master distiller. Lucy, the only full-timer, handles sales and marketing. “We obviously all sample the gins together to ensure quality control,” she smiles.
There’s a strong feminine element to the two copper pot stills that are essential to the enterprise. “They are named after our favourite characters in Georgette Heyer novels; Frederica and Venetia.” The former is also a lovely homage to the McAvoy parents, Freda and Eric.
The twenty copper mini-stills used in the gin school, meanwhile, are named after various daughters in this most extended of families. Each member of the public who signs up for a Four Sis4ers Gin Experience (three hours for £80) is allocated their own work space, weighing scales, a choice of 40 botanicals plus their own mini still, to filter their own personalised 50cl of gin to take home. Alternatively, a two-hour tour of the distillery (with samples from the in-house gin bar) costs just £30.
Gin lover? Then a taste of Four Sis4ers Gin isn’t to be missed…
Visit the Four Sis4ers online shop to buy gin, distillery tours and the Four Sis4ers Gin Experience