Raise a glass to Saddleworth Spirit Merchants

A GLASS or two was raised as new local business Saddleworth Spirit Merchants enjoyed a successful launch evening on Saturday, November 20 at Uppermill establishment Weaver and Wilde.

Saturday evening diners at the popular coffee house and grocers were among the first to sample the paired cocktails devised by Garreth, Catherine and TJ to showcase the citrus and floral notes of Rose County Gin, the first offering from Saddleworth Spirit Merchants.

The company is the brain child of Uppermill resident Garreth Freeman, who set up Saddleworth Spirit Merchants alongside wife Catherine and best friend TJ.

The idea originated from his passion for enjoying a well-crafted drink with friends and family, and he developed this into the concept for a business with the premise of creating a range of quality spirits.

Garreth explained: “Our business, and the drinks we create, are designed to reflect the unique and diverse nature of Saddleworth: a rural idyll with stunning vistas and diverse wildlife, complemented by trendy bars and restaurants in each of its individual villages.

“Although I am an Irish native, I have settled in Uppermill with Saddleworth born-and-bred Catherine, and can safely say the place has captured my heart.”

Rose County Gin was decided upon as the first product as the team wanted to create a well-balanced and botanical-rich London Dry.

Catherine added: “Creating Rose County gave us an insight into the world of distillation, and we spent many happy hours conjuring up our recipe by experimenting with different flavour combinations in our kitchen, using botanicals foraged on various walks and from Garreth’s fell runs up in the local hills.”

Rose County Gin combines heather, rose and fresh lemon and orange peels to deliver a traditional London Dry that is juniper leading, with a citrus kick and floral notes.

The name is Saddleworth Spirit Merchants’ homage to the ongoing debate about the identity of the area, and the battle between the white rose of Yorkshire and the red rose of Lancashire. As for where their allegiances lie, Garreth says, “we have gone for pink!”

The label design for the bottle was inspired by the distinct colour profile of the moors from time spent walking, as TJ explained: “What we noticed being up in the hills, no matter what the time of year or the weather, is there is a tremendous vibrancy to the ecology and the distinct colour of the purple heather, tremendous pinks at sunset and the distinctive white cotton.

“The style of our label is minimalist, which balances nicely with our traditional bottle design, a nod to its craft small batch heritage.”

The team have also been busy experimenting with cocktail recipes, with friends and family being the grateful guinea pigs. The recipes are easy to make and can be found on Saddleworth Spirit Merchants’ Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Garreth’s recommendation is the Rushcart, which is his take on the famous prohibition era ‘Chelsea Sidecar’ cocktail, and is fitting to enjoy 100 years on as we get together with friends and family again.

You can buy individual drinks of Rose County Gin at Weaver and Wilde in Uppermill or The Navigation in Dobcross.

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