How Richard and Rachel created a new artisan Goosnargh Gin
Just because you like gin, it doesn't mean you have to make it.
But for Rachel and Richard Trenchard they felt they just must.
Now they have launched a new brand on the market, devised in celebration of their local Lancashire countryside and named after their home location.
Goosnargh Gin is being distilled in small batches using a new recipe devised by the couple.
It is a project of passion and of ambition.
However they are not giving up their day jobs just yet.
Richard works as a sub-editor four days a week on the Fulwood based Farmers Guardian also has his own writing business.
Meanwhile former school teacher Rachel had already shown her entrepreneurial streak some years ago setting up and running a nursery and a pre-school with her sister-in-law.
They have now employed an area manager and also have three out of school clubs. Rachel also runs “Nurtured in Nature” forest school outdoor learning sessions for parents and toddlers once a week at nearby Waddecar Scout Centre.
She spent another seven and a half years working as a specialist inclusion teacher for children with special needs or disabilities and three years ago she became an independent early years special needs consultant and trainer.
The couple met as teenagers in Bolton on a blind date. Rachel went on to study for a BEd at Durham University and Richard went to Lancaster University to take a media based degree in culture and communications.
As to how they come to have located at the foot of Beacon Fell in Whitechapel, in the parish of Goosnargh, they explain it was after a long search for the right property.
They and their two children moved in six years ago. Richard said: “We just needed a bit more space.”
Rachel added: “We wanted somewhere rural - not with the intention necessarily of starting to make gin. It kind of evolved. It’s come from a real personal interest and passion. It’s not been let’s jump on a bandwagon. We very much want to stay a small batch producer. We label all the batches ourselves and there’s a section where we write the batch number.”
Their property had previously been the village post office and a tea room, but was more recently occupied as domestic premises by an elderly couple.
What the property did offer was potential - and a spare building.
They have located their distillery in a stand alone building previously used as a store room. Rachel said: “That’s how it was for a couple of years then we eventually converted it into an additional living space for the house.
“We’ve collected small batch gins for the last 10 years and at the end of last year we started thinking would we be able to do something and how to go about it.”
A lot of research followed as the dream of opening their own distillery turned into a reality. The company was registered in January but the gin, Â£38 a bottle, has only recently been launched.
They knew they wanted to do traditional distilling. Rachel said: “We wanted to do it because it’s more hands on, more of a craft. You are weighing botanicals and you are involved in the distillation process.”
They sent off to a specialist still maker abroad and the still has pride of place in their distillery.
Their gins are being named as Chapters with the first Chapter One gin devised as their Signature Gin.
Richard said: “All our gins are distilled using our traditional copper alembic still, and have already have plan for Chapter Two, which will be a more wintery gin entitled “Dark Skies”, inspired by the local areas designated dark sky status for stargazers.”
A third will be more floral. Richard dispels any thought that you pile your chosen flavourings into the mix and leave it: “It’s not just something you just start off and it creates gin for you. You have to be involved in the process.”
There is a certain acquired vocabulary with the craft - you must make “cuts” when you run the still.
Rachel said: “The skill over time is knowing when to make these cuts in your still run to make the most out of your gin. We’ve been developing the recipe. We did about 11 different recipes.”
With some 14 botanicals plus, of course, juniper as essential ingredients, the decision on what to use was guided by taste and local loyalties.
Richard said: “We used botanicals that would grow around the area - we used things like elderflower and meadowsweet and yarrow. They are all organic.”
Our gin is inspired by the beautiful location in which we live and the botanicals selected reflect that.”
Rachel said: “It’s a one shot gin so everything goes into the still.The only thing we ever add at the end is spring water.”
They have created their own gift pack and have begun to sell at local events and online.
Their label, with fir trees and a deer, has also been designed to reflect the local countryside and wildlife.
Richard concluded: “We are both, obviously, huge gin fans. What started as a few bottles in our drinks cupboard grew to more than 50 after visits to gin festivals across the country. “
Now they must be hoping that their gin will become a festival feature.
They also hope their new creation will lead to a new phrase - not let’s have a G and T, but let’s have a GG and T, a Goosnargh Gin and tonic.