Higson’s H1780 Tap & Still has been making big moves towards bringing people face to face with the history, production and art of distillery. Their latest offering, The Ginsmiths of Liverpool Gin Experience – Distillery Tour & Tasting, does just that. But, is their boozy VIP distillery tour any good?
H1780 Tap & Still bar and eatery, is in the heart of Liverpool’s creative and digital quarter [Editor’s note: That’s us!]. The new home of Higson’s Beer, originally brewed in Liverpool from 1780, also doubles as Love Lane Beers‘ home from home. And, of course, Ginsmiths of Liverpool gin is made there. While guests eat, they can drink these remarkable drinks fresh from the brewery/distillery.
Led by our friendly tour manager and brand ambassador Sean, I visited to find out what all the fuss from the Ginsmiths Distillery Tour & Tasting is all about.
A Brief History of Gin
Where is Gin from? What ingredients go into it? According to Sean, the holy trinity of gin is juniper, coriander seed and angelica. Juniper, or jenever in Dutch, is the main ingredient in gin and was first used at a distillery in Amsterdam in 1575. When Dutchman William III ruled England in 1689, he brought jenever, and Gin, to the country. The spirit soon took society by storm, and by 1749 there were 17,000 gin shops in London.
Sean talked us through the battle against the “Gin Epidemic”, William Hogarth making his two famous prints (Beer Street and Gin Lane) to deter people from binge-drinking gin.
The tour continues on through the War Years, the 1920’s golden age of cocktails, the American renaissance in the 90s, and the UK’s recent obsession with the spirit.
Distillery Tour – The 3 Threes
We were then showed the distillery, where the magic happens. Inside were the stills, mixers and all the ingredients alongside them. Ginsmiths call this set up ‘The 3 Threes’:
Three ingredients – these are water, botanicals and grain neutral spirit (GNS). They mix at 70% ABV for 16-24 hours before going into a 150-litre pot still.
Three plates – the still at H1780 has three plates and so all Ginsmiths gin is triple distilled. The mix is added to still, with flavourings, at 86oc and then evaporates.
Three parts – the three parts to gin are the head, hearts and tails. Water is added to the hearts and the gin is then bottled.
Ginsmiths of Liverpool Gin
Next we were taught how to taste gin, just like the professionals. We were sat in front of a measure of each of The Ginsmiths‘ locally sourced, signiture Gins. Here are my thoughts:
Dry Gin (43%) – the true spirit of Liverpool. Lots of juniper and citrus like any classic gin, but what sets it apart from others is its pink peppercorn and sea holly picked from Crosby beach. Why sea holly? For the Queen’s 50th anniversary in 2002, every city was tasked with finding a representative flower. Sea holly became the county flower of Liverpool because on its coat of arms is a liver bird bearing a branch of seaweed in its beak. Its perfect serve is mint and orange peel – so fresh.
Marshmallow Gin (40%) – the sweet spirit of Liverpool. An Old Tom style gin with natural sugars from marshmallow root and liquorice, and some aroma of nutmeg. Marshmallow root was once used in Chinese medicine for respiratory problems and later prescribed to the Scouse. It is now found in Ginsmiths gin as a nod to Liverpool having the oldest Chinese community in Europe. The perfect serve? A bamboo stick with raspberry, blackberry and a spray of marshmallow root spritz.
Merchant Navy Gin (51%) – the pioneering spirit of Liverpool. This was the strongest of the three, both in taste and ABV. Ginsmiths created this gin to celebrate Liverpool’s Merchant navy and its sailors. The gin has three significant botanicals, each with its own historical links to our city. First, the soft sweetness of Mexican vanilla; Second, Tasmanian pepperberry, adding warmth to the gin; and finally, the vibrant citrus notes Japanese yuzu. Sean serves the Merchant Navy with pink grapefruit: the peel, pith and juice.
Experimental Edition Gins
These are distilled on site too, and are created in much smaller, one litre stills. The current editions are Dry, Sweet & Spicy, Floral and Citrus. H1780 use these in their cocktails, but they are incredible with just tonic too.
Amazing, fascinating, delicious and affordable. You can become a Liverpool Gin connoissoir as well, with Tickets for as little as £20. Tickets for The Ginsmiths Experience include a brief history of gin, tour of the distillery, tutored gin tasting and a gin and tonic at the end. Tours are intimate with a maximum of ten people and run every Thursday at 6pm and every Saturday at 1pm and 3pm. Tickets are available here.
For more information about the tour and other events at H1780, contact them on
TEL: 0151 317 8215
Or pop in at H1780 Tap & Still, 62-64 Bridgewater Street, Baltic Triangle L1 OAY.