Cuckoo Solace Gin, distilled at Holmes Farm in Brindle, has beaten 11 other highly-rated gins from around the UK and the world, to take the title of Craft Gin Club’s ‘Gin of the Year 2021’.
>>>Click here to read about how it sll started for Cuckoo Gin.
The juniper-rich, mellow and soothing gin scored better feedback than any other craft gin sampled by 100,000 members of the Craft Gin Club last year.
Mark Long, director and master distiller, said: "It's absolutely fantastic. You can win plenty of awards, but for 100,000 members of the Craft Gin Club to rate ours as the best, it's really quite something.
"It's hard enough to be listed in their box for the month of May, so I didn't really dare dream that we could win it."
The award states: "Yet another special edition originally made exclusively for Craft Gin Club members, this gin-credible tipple was our May 2021 Gin of the Month.
"It is distilled by The Brindle Distillery in Lancashire and is brimming with a unique mix of classic London Dry and Mediterranean flavours that our members just adored!"
When Cuckoo Gin was selected to feature in Craft Gin Club’s box, it came down to more than just flavour.
Solace - and its name - was inspired by Mark's wife Liz's battle with cervical cancer, diagnosed when she was just 29 in 2019.
>>>Click here to read more of Liz's story and how it inspired Solace.
After undergoing major life-changing surgeries, Liz is now cancer free - and in a bid to raise awareness of cervical cancer, a percentage of proceeds from every bottle of Solace go to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
To show their support, Craft Gin Club made a donation of £10k, taking the total amount raised for the charity so far to almost £50k.
"We wanted to showcase Solace Gin to the Craft Gin Club community, to tell our brand story while raising awareness of the importance of cervical screenings," Mark said.
"Hopefully we can encourage more people to keep on top of screenings, just like Liz did. The money our customers and community have helped us raise goes towards supporting women and their families, who find themselves in similar circumstances to what we faced.
"The word solace means 'comfort in a time of distress'. We got solace from people during Liz's illness, and we wanted to give something back.
"We also thought about what is solace to us, and it's 'put me on a beach', so we've tried to use that concept for the drink."
The 34-year-old added: "Solace Gin is designed to take you away to the Mediterranean whilst keeping true to the principles of what a refreshing G & T should be, and that’s juniper heavy!
"The recipe is a savoury combination of rosemary and lemon thyme from our farm, teamed with Nocellara and Cuquillo olives and lemon, with big hits of fresh grapefruit."
How to serve Solace Gin
Mark said: "The best way is on a Friday night, to grab a big glass and get as much ice as possible, because that means it melts less, and it's nice and cold.
"Then get a good double measure of the gin and mix it with a Meditterranean tonic, and maybe add a sprig of rosemary or some olives, as those botanicals are used in the gin."
All of Cuckoo Gin's are made using spring water from the family farm in Brindle, and each bottle has the word Lancashire embossed on the back.
In fact, the large order from Craft Gin Club afforded the business the opportunity to create their own unique bottle. Featuring a new shape, inspired by nature, the weight of the bottle has been reduced making it more eco-friendly and aligning even more closely with their brand principles.
Mark said: "We use all our own spring water that is crystal clear. If you think about it, a bottle of gin is 41 per cent alcohol and the rest is water.
"So it's really nice that we can use Lancashire ingredients - and what's funny is that the bottles are made in Yorkshire. So there's someone over in Yorkshire producing all of these bottles with Lancashire written on them."
The gin boom
Mark believes the craze for gins seen in the past five years is holding strong, an has even been helped by the pandemic.
He said: "Gin has held its market, and the pandemic has helped in a way because people haven't been able to go out to drink, or maybe they don't feel comfortable doing that, so they have thought 'let's enjoy something really nice at home'.
Since the launch of their first Cuckoo Signature Gin in 2017, the Cuckoo range has expanded to include vodka and rum, and now the distillery, situated in an old cow shed, has diversified to offer tours, gin workshops and there is even a bar with special events held throughout the year.
More than 20 people from the local area are now employed by the business and Mark puts their success down to "hard graft".
He said: "We are delighted to have been voted the best, it’s a reflection of the hard work and dedication we have running throughout our team, who we are extremely proud of.
"Solace is our way of giving back, given the support we received throughout a really tough time in our lives, from those in the industry to our wonderful Cuckoo community."