Paul in high spirits after launching Lees-made gin

FIGURES released earlier this year suggest Britain is home to more than 300 gin distilleries.

One of the newest can be found in a factory unit just a stone’s throw from Lees High Street.

If you know your Lord of the Rings then little Arwen and the larger Galadriel are the stills producing Defiance gin at Woodend Mills for owner Paul Sheerin.

Before long Paul hopes the pair will be producing up to 400 bottles a week.

There are currently five varieties in the range including a 57 per-cent Navy strength, British strawberry and the rarity that is Old Tom.

They are characterised by foraged botanicals including: Sweet Flag, Sweet Cicely, Sitka tips and even the sap from Birch trees.

“Most people put dried goods in their gin but it’s the foraged ingredients that make Defiance gin,” says Paul. 

“And they are very much British products as we harvest from Lancashire, Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales. 

“There is lot going on in our gin so hopefully that’s what is working for us.”

Paul Sheerin with two of his gins

The number of distilleries has more than doubled from those operating across the nation five years ago.

And Paul, also a shareholder in award-winning Burnley-based Batch, has no fears for the spirit’s future. 

“In 2010, the turnover from gin was £350 million,” he explained. “The projected figure for 2017 was £1.1billion in the UK alone.

“The spirit of choice in volume has always been vodka for the last 20 years. Nothing has overtaken vodka – until now.

“That’s not a sign of a fad. It might change by generation and the madness of gin will calm down.”

Phil in his distillery

He added: “I’d like to make a gin made from Saddleworth honey and another using a bourbon aged cask. 

“I might also move into a bit of rum production and quite fancy making proper honey mead. 

“People said what happens when the craft beer market dies. But no one is going to go back to drinking lager.”

You can sample the full range at The Old Bell in Delph and find it at Caffe Grande Abaco in Uppermill, Winos in Oldham and Saddleworth Wine Vault.

Find out more about Defiance Gin on their website.

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