Burleigh's Gin and Margaret Thatcher's green legacy

Below is an excerpt from the September 2015 edition of GINNED! Magazine about Burleigh's Gin and the 45 West Distillery. Every month, Craft Gin Club Members receive a bottle of amazing small-batch gins and gin complements accompanied by GINNED! Magazine which is full of information about the gin, the distillery and loads of fascinating features.

As Jamie Baxter took a walk through Burleigh’s Wood that day seeking inspiration for his gin, he probably didn’t realize that the historical tentacles of a reviled and equally respected PM touched the roots of the botanicals he found. But somehow, Margaret Thatcher seems to work her way into every aspect of modern English life. 

burleighs gin

The Midlands, including the area around Loughborough where the 45 West Distillery is located, were once a region central to Britain’s mining industry which Maggie successfully stared down in the 1984-1985 National Union of Mineworkers strike. With the flow of subsidies cut off and the industry crippled, the path to privatization began, a privatization that included the shuttering of most UK mines. 

With the last of the mines rolled into the private company UK Coal by 1994, communities emerging from the economic devastation of closed mines could see clearly the effects that decades of ravaging the earth had had on their region’s biodiversity. To give back to the land from which they had taken, the communities in conjunction with Government developed a plan to revive the region’s woodlands through the launching of an environmental project known as The National Forest. 

Who knew Maggie’s effects could be so green.

The objective of the National Forest, which covers 200 square miles between Leicestershire to the East, Derbyshire to the North and Staffordshire to the West, is to encourage better use of the land and to replant enough trees and vegetation to cover one-third of the Forest’s area. The National Forest Company was set up in 1995 to oversee the development of the forest, educate local communities as to how they can contribute to the forest’s sustainable growth, and encourage tourism and foresting jobs in the region.  

burleighs gin

In the twenty years since the project began, over eight million trees have been planted increasing the percentage of woodland from 6% to 18%. As the Company arrives closer to its goal of 33% coverage, it has encouraged tourism by building trekking, cycling and horse riding paths, promoting fishing and organizing activities such as orienteering. Daytrippers can ride the canal from the former mining town of Moira, where the the National Forest’s Visitor Centre is located, scale the 278 metres to the top of Bardon Hill, the highest point in the Forest, or take a hike on the 75-mile National Forest Way.

Now, thanks to Jamie and his crew, at the 45 West Distillery, visitors have a place in the Forest to rest their feet after a long day of activities and enjoy a G&T with Burleigh’s Gin made from the National Forest’s botanicals. Even the Iron Lady could appreciate that