Uncle Joe’s boozy new departure

Uncle Joe's Mint Balls have new wrapping as joint managing directors John Winnard, left, and Antony Winnard, right, trial  the new design with pub owner Tony Callaghan, centre
Uncle Joe's Mint Balls have new wrapping as joint managing directors John Winnard, left, and Antony Winnard, right, trial the new design with pub owner Tony Callaghan, centre

That’s the spirit! Wigan’s famous sweet firm is testing a new alcoholic beverage that bosses are sure will keep you all aglow.

A limited edition Uncle Joe’s Mint Ball vodka is already available at one town centre venue - but soon a gin equivalent could be flying off the shelves of bars across the North of England - and even being transported around the world in bottles.

Three of the borough’s more colourful companies are teaming up to catch the crest of a commercial wave which has seen rocketing sales of the fiery drink across the country.

The Wily Fox brewery of Martland Mill and distillery has gone into partnership with Mint Ball-makers William Santus and Co to create and new Uncle Joe’s Wigan Gin.

It is the brainchild of InnTheBar pub and club boss Tony Callaghan who thinks it will prove a huge hit.

He plans to see the unique drink in all 19 of his establishments and bottles will also be available for sale from behind the bar so that they can be taken home, given as presents or exported to ex-pat Wiganers abroad who want a novel yet new taste of home.

It will also be available by the bottle so you can send it to your Uncle Teddy in Australia if he’s pining for home

Tony Callaghan

The tipple isn’t quite ready yet though. Phil Cox of Wily Fox, Mr Callaghan and co-directors of Wm Santus, John and Antony Winnard, have had one tasting session where they have tried the mints in liquid form with various types and strengths of gin, but aren’t happy they have found the perfect recipe yet. But they have pledged to keep trying!

John Winnard said: “Williams Santus was a strict Methodist so he wouldn’t have approved with what we are doing.

“But after the success of the vodka, and given the explosion in interest in gin of late, it seemed a logical next step. We haven’t quite got the formula right yet though.”

Mr Callaghan said: “I like Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls, we are both Wigan firms and my bars have 60 to 70 different gins in them. It suddenly struck me that all these things would conspire to make a potentially exciting new business venture. So I approached Uncle Joe’s to get the rights to sell the gin which I will do across all my bars.

“It will also be available by the bottle so you can send it to your Uncle Teddy in Australia if he’s pining for home.”

Mr Callaghan said that while they were still experimenting with the drink, once they had “got it bang on” it would only be a few weeks then before thousands of bottles could be produced.