Blackpool Rock Gin: The story behind the seaside inspired drink enjoyed by Jean-Christophe Novelli

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Blackpool Rock Gin expertly distilled and handcrafted in Lancashire and can be found in many of the resort’s bars, pubs and restaurants

Blackpool Rock Gin is inspired by the seaside
Blackpool Rock Gin is inspired by the seaside (Image: Blackpool Rock Gin)

Blackpool Rock Gin has become a well-loved brand not only in the town’s local bars, pubs and restaurants but also in other parts of the UK and further afield.

The truly Lancashire gin is the only one of its kind to actually use its product, i.e. a stick of Blackpool Rock, within the drink and not simply use flavouring as is with the case with many other flavoured gins.

The idea for the pink gin came about around three years ago by founders Simon, now aged 48, and Jay now aged 37.

Simon, born on the Fylde coast, has spent over 30 years in the drinks industry supporting national and international gin brands and distillers achieving many multiple international awards.

Jay, who lives in Lytham St Annes with his young family, is a design expert with his own marketing and web design agency.

He supports many local businesses across the North West working predominantly in the hospitality space.

The original Blackpool Rock Gin along side the 125th Limited Edition bottle
The original Blackpool Rock Gin along side the 125th Limited Edition bottle (Image: Blackpool Rock Gin)

One evening the pair were out drinking gin on a terrace in Lytham discussing life when the idea was born.

Jay said: “Simon asked me how work was going, and I basically said I was fed up with making successful brands and products for people.

“Simon, as ex senior manager of one of the largest distilleries in Europe, had said that people had kept asking him to create his own gin. At the time gin had really taken off and the industry was booming so we got to thinking of what we could do ourselves.

“Blackpool really enjoys its nostalgia so we immediately thought of Blackpool Rock. We also wanted to do something no one else had done too and actually have the real product in the drink.

“From that point we set about trying to make that happen.”

"Seaside poster" for Blackpool Rock Gin
“Seaside poster” for Blackpool Rock Gin (Image: Blackpool Rock Gin)

The two were to find out that the unique process this involves would be much more complicated than trying to dissolve a stick of rock within the gin.

They therefore enlisted the help of one of the oldest Blackpool rock factories in the town.

After much fine filtering and technical wizardry the results that came was a lovely, subtle sweet, original pink gin.

The drink is now expertly distilled and hand crafted using 10 premium botanicals and the base gin is made to the London dry standard and the single sourced spirit is produced in Lancashire.

Truly a craft gin, the pair painstakingly hand label and bottle every gin themselves.

Blackpool Rock Gin is a true Lancashire gin
Blackpool Rock Gin is a true Lancashire gin (Image: Blackpool Rock Gin)

Jay said: “There is sometimes a concern that because Blackpool Rock is used it’s going to really sweet almost like a liqueur.

“It’s very subtle however – if you mix it with lemonade it really brings out the sweetness and if you mix it with tonic it tastes truly like a dry gin.

“There can be a little bit of stuffiness within the gin world and we don’t really enter competitions. Simon has done all that and, given his expertise, he says with all honesty that this gin is one of the best he’s ever produced.

“As someone from Lytham I know sometimes there can be a little bit of snobbery towards Blackpool too however we know how great and unique the town is.

“The Blackpool community is like no other and the support we’ve had from locals and businesses has been overwhelming.

“Some gin makers have all kinds of funding to help them make their products however we have created and nurtured this ourselves without any support.

Jay (left) and Simon (right) with Jean-Christophe Novelli
Jay (left) and Simon (right) with Jean-Christophe Novelli (Image: Blackpool Rock Gin)

The collaboration between the two local lads is why the pink gin has proved so successful.

Simon is responsible for making the gin and handcrafts each and every batch himself and Jay brings the creative side to the business which is everything from the label on the bottle to the website.

As part of the original marketing of the gin, and inspired by the seaside, the pair managed to source some original Blackpool deck chairs and re-upholstered them in the brands colours to take pictures.

Since the offset the gin makers have set out to challenge the regular outlook of a start-up gin business and created a contemporary spirit that was fun and approachable that would bring new drinkers into the gin category.

In order to do this, Jay has always kept his finger on the pulse by keeping up with the latest trends, events and venues so the drink can be enjoyed by a full spectrum of visitors.

A fan of Star Wars, he didn’t miss a opportunity to mark May 4th this week by decanting his pink gin into a Storm Trooper bottle his nephew bought him – which made for a striking picture.

So much so the pair have been inundated with questions asking who designed the bottle. Although Jay didn’t, it would be something he’d love to do if it was made possible.

To celebrate 125 years of incredible innovation in the town and the birthday of Blackpool Pleasure beach, Blackpool Rock Gin also launched its ‘Limited Edition 125 Years London Dry Gin’ made from the premium 10 botanical base recipe.

Blackpool Rock Gin marked May 4 by decanting its product into a Storm Trooper bottle

Blackpool Rock Gin marked May 4 by decanting its product into a Storm Trooper bottle (Image: Blackpool Rock Gin)

This limited edition has 125 numbered bottles which have been designed and produced in its inaugural year.

Showcasing the true heart of Blackpool Rock gin, this version highlights the wonderful single source British spirit and the fantastic botanicals within it.

The original pink gin has found its way to places like Scotland and Brighton and even Jean-Christophe Novelli has enjoyed a tipple.

The recent pandemic has proved difficult, as it has for so many other businesses, however there are exciting new plans in place for the Blackpool gin including working with the team at Blackpool Rocks for their Blackpool Rock Returns event.

As always, Jay and Simon also have ideas for Blackpool inspired products to come and plans for tasting events.

For more information, please visit the Blackpool Rock Gin website here.