Gone are the days when, offered a gin and tonic, the only real choice you had to make was whether you had it with a slice of lemon or, being really bold, went for lime! Now there’s plethora of gins and gin liqueurs and one of the names shaking and stirring this mammoth industry is Wirral Gin.
Wirral Gin has just celebrated its second anniversary having begun in October 2015 and, thanks to traditional copper pot stills – the favourite a small one named Thumbelina! – and the passion of its founders Eric Healing and wife, Tracey, it’s capitalising on a rapidly expanding market with, already, a few changes and plans of its own.
Eric, 48, who combines his role as still master with his job as Director of IT at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, says: “I was always the kind of kid who, at 10-years-old, would be out in the garden with my chemistry set picking rose petals and making perfume for my mum.
“Take that process, add alcohol – and it’s a great starting point for making gin!
“I started Wirral Gin (company name Ginhouse Beverages) after spending time in Malawi, with the School of Tropical Medicine, which is one of the great producers of gin. Malawi Gin is exceptional.”
He and Tracey initially created two gins using the vapour extraction method, one a tangerine based product and the other infused with juniper and Bog Myrtle, a small flowering shrub found in bogs and marshes: “I was convinced that the tangerine gin was better but Tracey was convinced by the Bog Myrtle one. Needless to say that when we took them around Wirral on blind tasting sessions, the Bog Myrtle won by a mile and that became Wirral Gin.”
They added Pink Dog Gin, a rose-infused gin named after their pet Vizsla, Pink, and those are the two brands they continue to focus on.
However… Wirral Gin has just joined forces with fellow local gin giant, The Hand Made Gin Company, pioneered by Peter Golightly, with whom they now make up Epic Spirits and which will continue to hand produce specialist gins for hotels, bars and companies, including the likes of Thornton Hall, The Red Fox in Thornton Hough, Pollards Inn in Willaston and, most recently, the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool.
Thanks to a new distillery in Dibbinsdale, they now produce between 200-300 bottles of gin every day, and they have opened a shop and started weekend distillery tours.
Adds Eric: “Peter and joined forces because we have known each other a long time, have a similar background and a shared passion. We have got new premises, new opportunities with plans for more gin liqueurs and, even, new vodka…it’s really exciting.”