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Emergency Covid sanitiser lab goes back to being east London’s artisan gin school

PUBLISHED: 16:42 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:03 23 September 2020

One of several London distilleries that turned production to sanitisers for the Met Police and others at start of pandemic emergency. Picture: Met Police

One of several London distilleries that turned production to sanitisers for the Met Police and others at start of pandemic emergency. Picture: Met Police

MPS

An artisan distillery that was forced to shut down in east London when the Covid emergency began is restarting its gin school masterclasses to help people “keep their spirits up” under new 10pm curfew restrictions.

Shoreditch gin school reopens for wannabe distillers on October 2. Picture: 58 GinShoreditch gin school reopens for wannabe distillers on October 2. Picture: 58 Gin

The 58 Gin company in Shoreditch became the first to switch production to hand sanitisers and distributed them to key workers and charities during the six month emergency.

Now it’s firing up its masterclasses on October 2 with socially-distanced pre-booked sessions.

The premises under the Haggerston railway arches in the cobblestone Acton Mews has been made Covid-safe with measures to comply with latest government Coronavirus guidelines.

The guidelines include protective screens and PPE for distillery staff, with socially-distanced “gin stations” and tough cleaning regimes.

Masterclass at 58 Gin... ready to keep people's spirits up with 10pm curfew coming in. Picture: 58 GinMasterclass at 58 Gin... ready to keep people's spirits up with 10pm curfew coming in. Picture: 58 Gin

“We’re able to re-open with a taste of normality during a difficult year,” gin school director Carmen O’Neal said. “The sessions mark the weekend in a safe and controlled environment as the 10pm curfew comes into play.”

The distilling operations were put on ice on March 19 as lockdown became inevitable.

But the distillery became the first to switch production to hand sanitisers based on World Health Organisation guidelines.

It has been supplying sanitiser during the emergency to key workers, commercial organisations and even the Met Police, as well as donating to charities. A proportion of its profits go to the Drinks Trust to help other struggling businesses in the trade to survive which have also been hit by the pandemic.

Gin-making under Haggerston railway arches switched to sanitisers during emergency, but now back to distilling in good spirit. Picture: 58 GinGin-making under Haggerston railway arches switched to sanitisers during emergency, but now back to distilling in good spirit. Picture: 58 Gin

Distilling resumed in June which enabled the company to press ahead with two new gins, one from apple and hibiscus and the other from berries.

Each person joining the masterclass sessions is handed their own “ginitizer” with 80pc alcohol and essential oils to use, then take home.

The masterclass shows how to create recipes, how to distil and how to bottle what they’ve made with wax seal.

Budding distillers can spirit away their own 70cl bottle of gin at the end of the sessions, which are held Friday evenings 6.30 to 9.30pm and Saturdays 2-5pm with up to “six in a bubble” in the airy 2,600sq ft space under the railway arches.

Bookings are online which sets you back £120 or £199 for two people.


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