Think of the Royal Northern College of Music and you’ll probably think of classical melodies, perhaps their free lunchtime concerts, or maybe the odd student bumping their way down Oxford Road with an oversized instrument case.

What you might not know is that their bar is a bit of a gin palace. With nearly 200 gins on the bar, it’s got more G&Ts and cocktails than some of the bars in the city.

Not content with just being a stop off point after work, or for those attending a concert, they recently held their first Meet the Distillers event. A night showcasing the musical talent of their students, as well as the talent of the distillers from several gin brands, including some local names.

There's a secret gin palace in the Royal Northern College of Music: we met the distillers I Love Manchester

After our arrival and taking advantage of a discount G&T or two (their offers are really rather good), we took our seats for the performance. The students were superb – opera for me is one of those styles of music that gives me goosebumps, from the hair on my head down to my toes, and this was no exception.

Taking a selection from the operas of the world, including one or two English ones, the students more than earned themselves a gin or two of their own.

Musical appetites sated, it was the turn of our taste buds. Our tickets meant we could visit each stand for a sample of gin, and take advantage of the special discounts negotiated for full bottle purchases.

There's a secret gin palace in the Royal Northern College of Music: we met the distillers I Love Manchester

Mancunian favourites Manchester Three Rivers, Sis4ers Gin and Manchester Gin sat alongside London gins including Sipsmith and Hoxton Gin, as well as some from over the Pennines with the floral gin from Robin of Locksley.

We were also treated to some brand new gins to the market including the new Sunshine Gin from Cuckoo. A distillery based in Brindle in Lancashire, it offers delicious gins made as eco-friendly as possible, with their cattle consuming the spent grain from the distillation process, and their chickens the spent botanicals.

The whole night was gin-filled, with lots of happy customers heading off with bottles clanking in their bags. We’re awaiting details on the next event, but in the meantime, I for one will be keeping myself topped up at the bar. After all, it’s only across the road from my office.


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