Chorley gin joint can stay for good - but the toasts are on hold because of coronavirus

A Chorley gin distillery-turned-tourist-destination has been told that its in-house bar and guided tours can now operate permanently in the borough – almost three years after the venue first opened its doors to the public.

By Paul Faulkner
Monday, 4th May 2020, 8:50 pm

But the owners of the Brindle Distillery have had to put their celebrations on ice, because of the chilling effect that the coronavirus crisis has had on parts of the Holmes Farm-based business.

While the firm is still making and selling its Cuckoo brand of gins and spirits to liven up the lockdown, the bar and tours have naturally been mothballed during the current movement and social distancing restrictions.

It is these two aspects of the operation which have now received permanent planning permission from Chorley Council after being a given temporary, two-year approval in late 2018 to assess their impact on the area.

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Brindle Distillery director Mark Long

But director and distiller Mark Long does not expect to be welcoming visitors to the Sandy Lane again this year.

“With the number of people we get in the bar at night, I don’t think it would be safe,” he explained.

“It’s the same with the tourism aspect of the business – the tours and workshop where you can make your own gin – which we closed in mid-March.

“It’s a huge loss to us, but the sales online and in Booths have been great, and we’ve been doing a lot of virtual tours to keep the community spirit up and give people something to do on a Saturday night. They have gone down really well and it’s been a pleasure to keep people happy.”

Mark added that he is using the unexpected shutdown to plan how the business can evolve whenever the situation eventually permits.

“It’s important to keep growing the economy and for us to invest in people and the site. What we can and can’t do in the foreseeable future depends on what gets announced by the government and if we’re going to offer something, it has to be safe for staff and customers – but we’ll adapt.

“We’re blessed having such fantastic community around us, so it’s not been too painful.

“Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, we can enjoy everyone’s company again,” Mark said.

The distillery and bar first opened in 2017, but a retrospective planning application was rejected a year later. The distillery was granted permanent permission in July 2018 and the bar later that year, but initially only until December 2020.

A report from planning officers in which indefinite approval was given states that the proposal “complies with the development plan and would improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area”.

The permitted hours of the bar are Fridays and Saturdays between 5pm and 11pm and Sundays and bank holidays between 3pm and 9pm.

Tours of the distillery and gin schools can be held between 7pm and 10pm on weeknights and between midday and 6pm at the weekend.