Manchester-based Didsbury Gin co-founders Liam Manton and Mark Smallwood have been named as Food & Drink Entrepreneurs of the Year for the North West at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

In partnership with Starling Bank, the ceremony was held at Grosvenor House in London on 22 November and saw 159 entrepreneurs across the UK recognised for their entrepreneurial stories and achievements over the last year.

‘Ginthusiasts’ Liam and Mark created Didsbury Gin in 2017. Since then the brand has gone from strength-to-strength. Just three years after appearing on Dragon’s Den, domestic sales of the brand have rapidly surpassed the £3m mark and the brand has been hailed as ‘one of the UK’s most exciting spirits brands’.

Liam and Mark’s passion for the category and sustainable credentials – they use only ethically farmed, British fruit in all their products – have won over outlets and gin drinkers alike. Didsbury Gin has landed a number of high-profile contracts over the past year, from Co-op and Booths to Manchester Pride and Market Halls in London. Most recently it has been announced as gin partner at the upcoming NME Awards.

Liam Manton says, “It’s great to be recognised for how against the backdrop of a mature gin market, brimming with craft distilleries, we’ve managed to get Didsbury Gin to cut through the noise to stand out from the crowd by pinpointing a niche in the market. We’ve worked hard to build this consumer-first, multi-channel brand with honesty, integrity, transparency and community at its heart. It’s been a fantastic year for us – and being awarded Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year is just the icing on the cake!”  

The Great British Entrepreneur Awards launched in 2012 to celebrate the best of British enterprise, inviting founders from across the UK to apply with their entrepreneurial success stories.

This year, after having to hold the awards virtually in 2020, the organisers brought together all eight of their regional shortlists for the first time, with a guest list of 1,200 entrepreneurs, judges, mentors, investors and partners invited to the London celebration.

Over the last decade, the Awards has celebrated some household names including Julie Deane OBE of Cambridge Satchel Co, Alan and Juliet Barratt of Grenade and Shaun Pulfrey of Tangle Teezer. Its most recent headline-grabbing success story is its previous winner, and speaker at this year’s event, Steven Bartlett, who in May was announced as the youngest ever Dragon on BBC’s Dragons Den.

The awards were judged by a panel of industry experts and leaders of influential UK businesses, including some of the prize winners from previous years.

Francesca James, founder of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, spoke highly of the entrepreneurial talent coming out of this year’s cohort, “With more than 1,200 attending, the evening was a real snapshot of the UK economy. The winners were thoroughly deserving, overcoming some stiff competition from their fellow finalists, and we look forward to welcoming them into our alumni community and seeing what they do next. It’s always exciting to watch our previous winners go on to achieve amazing things and I don’t expect any less from this year’s award recipients, who we will support all the way.”


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