Good friends Liam Manton and Mark Smallwood are the brains behind the glorious gin collection inspired by local alderman Fletcher Moss, who gifted the fine gardens (Fletcher Moss and Parsonage) to the people of Didsbury.
The gin is infused with eleven botanicals, including juniper berries, English coriander, angelica, and a blend of fresh and dried peels, such as lemon, lime and orange. Such delicious infusions aim to create a refreshing zesty twist on a classic London Dry.
Despite both being gin enthusiasts, Liam and Mark haven’t always been involved in the industry. Mark has 20 years’ hospitality experience and started his career at the legendary Steak & Kebab in Didsbury Village. Meanwhile, Liam works in construction and was part of Manchester band The Last Party who, in their time, were hugely supported by world-famous actor Idris Elba, best known for his role in Luther.
Mark says: “Working in hospitality over the years, I have always experimented with gin and love its diversity and flavour palette as the base of cocktails.”
And then came the idea for Didsbury Gin, a potentially life-changing venture for the boys…
“Over Christmas, we drank so much gin, we thought we should just make our own,” says Liam. “We started off with a small batch, tested it out, and everyone loved it! The next minute, we were sat in front of the buying team at Harvey Nichols and discussing a national rollout – let’s just say it was an Only Fools and Horses moment – we still laugh about it now!”
The gin has gone on to receive rave reviews and is even featured in Vogue magazine’s festive December drinks/gift round-up.
“The North is home to a variety of good craft beers and spirits,” reveals Liam. “Seven Brothers, based in Salford, gave us some really decent advice and help when we first started out.”
Overjoyed with the successful product launch at world-renowned luxury store Harvey Nichols, they have since rolled out with other retailers, including, locally, Cheese Hamlet and Reserve Wines.
Liam says: “Harvey Nichols was an amazing place to launch the gin, and the fact they went national with it before we’d sold a bottle just proves to us that we have a great product and our beloved Didsbury is soon to become the drink of choice for many. It’s exciting that our drunken Christmas idea is working out.”
Mark adds: “Saying that though, if it didn’t all come together, the worst thing that would have happened is that Liam and I would’ve ended up with a lot of gin to drink – I can think of more terrible outcomes!”