What did you do before creating Bashall Gin?
We've always been a traditional estate, focussing on farming - mostly dairy and sheep farming. That's still absolutely at the heart of what we do on the estate, but we were keen to look at new opportunities for branching out and bringing new ideas in.
What made you decide to create your gins?
The idea for creating our gins grew out of our passion for our family history - we've been on the estate for more than 200 years - and especially our family recipe books, which go back as far as 1750. I love the old Georgian and Victorian recipes and the way they use the flavours of the land much more widely than we do now. The recipes are all handwritten so they feel really personal, and the flavours are interesting and sophisticated. It was whilst talking to a friend who is a distiller about how we could bring this fascinating piece of history to life that we realised that developing botanicals for a gin, and then flavours for that gin, was the perfect way to bring these traditions to the modern palate.
What are some of the key botanicals you use?
The botanicals are based on common flavours in the traditional Lancashire and Yorkshire recipes in our books, which are also the things you find growing around. For example, we use cob nuts which give a lovely smoothness to the gin, cranberries which grow in the wildlife reserve in the village and used to be much more widespread, caraway which is a common flavour for Lancashire dishes and grows profusely along roadsides and fields all over, and elderflower which fills the hedgerows in late spring.
As well as your London Dry Gin, what are the other gins you make?
Our three flavoured gins are based directly on family recipes. Our Orange and Quince Gin is from an eighteenth century recipe for marmalade (or marmalet as they called it then), our Damson and Elderberry Gin is from an eighteenth century recipe for damson wine (the Georgians turned everything they could into alcohol!) and our Parkin Cake gin is based on a nineteenth century recipe for Parkin - the treacly ginger cake that is still common in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and for which every family has their special recipe.
What have been the biggest achievements and challenges so far?
It's been a whole new world for us and it's been exciting and a bit scary. We sold our first ever bottle at the Hodder Valley show last year, our local show, just after the fast batch was bottled, and seeing the bottles flying off the stall and getting so much positive feedback was such a buzz. It's such a thrill to see our stockist list grow, to win a silver medal in the first competition we entered, and to watch people loving the gins and engaging with the family history.
Covid has been a tough time for us, as for so many people, and for a while we wondered if we'd have to put the business on hold, but our stockists have been amazing at keeping things growing and despite the uncertainty we're finding lots of new people who are interested in taking on our gins. It's still pretty early days for us, but so far it's been a blast - hard work and sometimes stressful, but worth every minute.
How would you describe your gins in 3 words?
Imaginative, heritage-inspired, must-try
What's your favourite way to drink your gins?
I'm a purest and I'd always go for a classic tonic water - or maybe ginger ale with the Parkin Cake gin as I really love to accentuate the ginger flavour. Over lockdown, we've been experimenting with developing cocktails with our gins and we've found some great combinations - Orange & Quince, for example, gives an amazing twist to an espresso martini, whilst the fruitiness of the Damson & Elderberry goes brilliantly with fizz and the Parkin Cake adds a layer of sweet complexity to a Negroni - see our blog for the recipes: https://www.bashallspirits.co.uk/blog.
Which gins would you always have on your gin shelf?
We love to support the other local gins in our area - working together was a big help during lockdown - and luckily for us there are some brilliant ones. Ribble Valley Gin and Goosnargh Gin are two of my favourites. I'm also very partial to an Edinburgh Gin.
What's next for Bashall Spirits - any exciting plans?
When we were initially doing our product development we had so many ideas for flavours based on the recipes, and got about ten flavour combinations made up. Most of them were amazing, and narrowing it down to the three flavours we produce now was really hard. We're really looking forward to bringing some more of them to the market. But at the moment, our focus has got to be on growing the core brand and getting through the Covid era - once things are a bit more stable, look out for some exciting new heritage-inspired gins!
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