Whitby Dry Gin Review – “Where Land Meets Sea”

Whitby Gin – simple, no-nonsense branding here.

If you are going to create a British regional gin-brand then there are probably no better place to use than Whitby. This old fishing village has pretty much everything. From a historic perspective there is Whitby Abbey, home to St. Hilda and host to the Synod of Whitby. The port is located at the mouth of the river Esk which drains Eskdale, part of the beautiful North York Moors. In literature, Whitby is the location where Dracula, in the form of a large dog bounded ashore and climbed the 199 steps to the Abbey. Finally, the town is known for the black Whitby Jet jewellery made from jet mined on the nearby moors. Enough of the tourist information what about the gin.

The Whitby Dry Gin is a product of the Whitby Distillery, the brain-child of founders Jess and Luke. Currently the distillery’s core products are the dry gin and the slightly-sweeter Old Tom. In addition they produce a number of specials, such as a “Stoker Edition” black gin, that dilutes to blood red in a G&T.

As well as the usual-suspects amongst the botanicals (Juniper, Coriander Seed, Citrus Peels and Liquorice Root) the gin features three local signature botanicals. Firstly heather tips, sustainably harvested from the North Yorks Moors, sugar kelp from nearby Robin Hood’s Bay and raw honey from a local bees. Obviously the heather adds a herbal note to the gin, the honey a sweet note whilst the sugar kelp should add both a sugary and savoury/umami taste to the gin. The gin is distilled via a “single-shot London dry gin distillation process”.

As their website warns, the gin is not chill-filtered and may turn a little cloudy when mixed with a tonic water, as the oils from the gin form an emulsion with water (the Ouzo Effect). The last thing you need to know before the taste test is that the gin was the winner of the “2019 World Gin Awards – Best London Dry Gin (UK)”. That put it ahead of such names as Tanquerey and That Boutique-y Gin Company. However the value of the award is a little tarnished by the fact Gordon’s Gin (my gin nemesis) received a Bronze award.

Now on to the tasting. The distillery have their own tasting notes, but we’re going to ignore them for the moment.

Day or Night Gin ? This is an unusual 42% ABV gin, so halfway between the strong stuff (typically 47% ABV) and the mild stuff (39% ABV), so let’s call it a mid-afternoon gin.

What does it smell of ? On the nose it’s quite a herbal whiff, possibly angelica but perhaps carrying some of the heather flavour. In addition there’s something a little lemony going on.

What does it taste of ? The undiluted gin is a little on the rough side. On top of the herbal notes you can taste the honey and something a little savoury, I’m guessing this is the sugar kelp. In a G&T the gin really shines. The gin is strong enough to handle the tonic’s quinine, whilst the herbal botanicals deliver an excellent bitter G&T.

Buy it ? You can get it directly from the website. The classic 70ml bottle is available £37 plus £4.50 postage if you are in the UK. Alternatively it’s stocked by the MasterofMalt website for the discount price of £35.95 plus postage (to almost anywhere in the world). A better alternative would be to visit one of their stockists. I bought my bottle (the 20ml sampler) at the marvellous Lewis & Cooper, but for the ultimate experience I think you should make a day of it and visit Rievaulx Abbey which apparently stocks this gin.
Admittedly this is an expensive gin, but this is a 2-year old business, still at the boutique end of the gin world.

Overall 5/5 This is a much better gin than I was expecting (which is actually a complement). I’m a big fan of the more herbal gins (like the Norwegian Harahorn), so this is probably no surprise. The signature botanicals add to the taste, without overwhelming the palate.

The fact this is a North Yorkshire gin probably makes me a little biased and dewy-eyed. Congratulations on the team at Whitby Distillery for making such a good gin. Winning the UK section World Gin Awards shows the quality of this boutique gin. If you were thinking about this gin, then try it and leave your thoughts in the comments section.

PS. If you were wondering how the distillery describes their gin then read on:

Nose: Herbal floral air with hint of sweetness.
Palate: Rich mouthfeel of juniper with a lovely clean freshness which lingers.
Pair with: 150ml of Mediterranean Fever-Tree tonic & garnish with pink grapefruit & a sprig of rosemary.


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Genealogy Shorts – Ancestry enables Two-Factor Authentication

I guess the title says it all. You can now use Two-factor Authentication (commonly written as 2FA) on your Ancestry Account. In Ancestry language it’s called Two-Step Verification. If you haven’t yet been exposed to this technology, 2FA requires that you have 2 different factors to authenticate your account. These two factors are commonly something you know (your password) and something you have (a mobile phone, or a hardware key such as a yubikey). With Ancestry this means that every time you log-in to your Ancestry account you need to enter a 6-digit code that will be texted to your mobile phone. If that sounds like a pain then you can and should enable the option to “Remember this Device” – it’s a tick box that is part of the sign-in pop-up box (see below).

Ancestry is able to send SMS messages out to mobile-phones in most countries – hence my +49 German Phone Number

Enabling Two-factor authentication is easy. Whilst signed in to your account go to the section “My Account”. This is available on the top-right of any web-page you have open at Ancestry. Next to the small thumbnail picture of yourself you will have name. Click on this and a small drop-down menu will appear. Click on the option “My Account” or access it directly from ancestry.com/secure/account. Edit the Section “Your Account” (see image below).

You will then need to provide a mobile phone number and have that authenticated. In addition you will get a 12 character emergency backup code. This is important, so print it off and keep it safe. As the pop-up box says “For your security, your account will be locked if you do not have your verification code or your emergency backup code“. If you lose your phone, or just your phone number you will need this code to remove 2FA from your account

Ancestry’s one-time emergency Backup Code (or at least part of it)

Why do you need Two-Factor Authentication?

Unless you are using a Password Manager to generate long complex passwords you will probably be using the same password on multiple sites. There is already a good chance that your email address/password combination is already known to the “bad guys”. If you want to find out about this there is no better site than Try Hunt’s haveibeenpwned.com. Simply type in your email account and see which sites have leaked account information linked to your email address.

In addition it’s important to remember that Ancestry itself had a data breach between  2015 and 2017 when “a file containing almost 300k email addresses and plain text passwords was identified


I must admit that I doubt that anyone’s Ancestry account is a prime target for hackers, but I think good information-technology security means that you should use the safest options for your presence in the on-line world.

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Thornborough Henges, North Yorkshire

Normally I use this blog to write about genealogy, or gin. Today I’m a little off-topic as I recently changed the blog header image and just want to explain why. Long, long ago, when I first started this blog I just wrote what I found interesting and useful, including “tech stuff” such as The Microsoft Image Composite Editor (hereafter Microsoft ICE). This is basically a program for stitching together a set of photographs into a panorama. It’s the same technology as you get in a bunch of mobile phones today. I’m a little old-school and have a ten year old Canon digital camera, so have to do the panorama stuff myself. After I wrote about the Microsoft ICE I though I should use my blog header to show a rather nice panorama I made whilst on holiday in Nice. Since I don’t really have a connection to Nice, I thought it was time to put something more personal as a header, hence one of the Thornborough Henges.

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Hayman’s London Dry Gin Review – Experience counts

Is it a good thing that I’ve almost reached the end of the bottle before I start writing my review of this gin? The reason that I pose this question is that I’m one measure away from the end of this particular bottle and I’m still a little unsure what to say. I guess it’s probably safer to start with some details on the gin.

Hayman’s is a London-based family-run distillery that has been producing gin since 1863. It’s based in Balham, South London and run, not surprisingly, by the Hayman family – now in their fifth generation. Their focus is on more tradition gin’s, which means they currently offer only six signature gins. There are three classic gin, namely London Dry Gin, the slightly-sweeter Old Tom Gin, the high-alcohol (57% ABV) Royal Dock Gin. On top of this they have a Sloe Gin, a cask-finished Gently Rested Gin and Hopped Gin with, hops. As a result their website shop is pleasingly simple to navigate.

On to the gin:

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Show Report – Family Tree Live – 26th/27th April 2019

Last weekend I got out of the house and actually out of the country to visit Family Tree Live, held at the rather spectacular Alexandra Palace in London . This is one of the many Family History shows on offer this year for English-speaking genealogists in Europe. There has already been the traditional late-winter “Back to out Past” show in Belfast. on top of this there are some other key shows coming up:

The Genealogy Show – Friday 7th / Saturday 8th June at the NEC, Birmingham
MyHeritage Live 2010 – Friday 6th / Sunday 8th September at the Hilton, Amsterdam
Rootstech London – Thursday 24th / Saturday 26th October at the ExCeL, London
Back To Our Past (Dublin) – Friday 18th / Saturday 19th October (provisionally) at the RDS, Dublin

All in all, it’s a busy year for shows, so every show is fighting for attention and most-importantly foot-fall. How did Family Tree Live do ?

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Genealogy Shorts – Identifying your Direct Line Ancestors in ancestry.com

Recently a online-discussion came up as to how to identify your direct ancestors when building a family-tree at ancestry.com. I can understand the discussion. Looking at a family tree on Ancestry, especially a descendant chart, can be confusing, even if it is your own.

Along with the usual selection of ideas (writing their names in CAPITALS, adding an asterisk after their first name etc.) one person kindly added a couple of simple images they had created (see below). The idea is that you add these as profile pictures to your direct ancestors.

Image created by Gem Chapman


Image created by Gem Chapman

Personally, what I do is slightly different. To me it’s important, especially when I’m working on my wife’s German family tree, to understand the location that each ancestor came from. Most people’s ancestors came in clumps from specific regions, or even specific villages. My wife has ancestors coming for as far west as the Dutch border and as far east as Silesia. As a dumb Brit I find it hard to immediately recognise their ancestral villages by name. What I’ve ended up doing is using the town/village Coat of Arms, as a profile picture, to mark all of my wife’s direct ancestral line. This works particularly well for Germany where pretty-much every village has it’s own “Ortswappen” (coat-of-arms). This way I have a visual clue to both the ancestral lines and the individual’s birth location.

Being an ex-stamp-collector I’m naturally drawn to stamps that carry the German towns’ Coat-of-Arms. As luck would have it the caffeine-free coffee-company Kaffee Hag produced a number of sets of promotional stamp-albums way back in the 1920’s that depict over 700 different coat-of-arms from towns all over Germany. There are also sets of international albums that cover most of continental Europe and the British Isles. As far as I can see the are no copyright issues on such items. You can find images of the stamps here, or, like myself, you can pick up either full sheets, or individual stamps on ebay in Germany.

Kaffee Hag Ortswappen – freistaat Preußen, Provinz Hannover Regirungsbezirk Hildesheim

Being a bit nerdy about the whole thing I digital cut out any stamps I need, digitally boost the colours and fluff the edges using photoshop. See some samples below:

Kaffee Hag ortswappen: Bocholt, Provinz Westfalen, Registerungsbezirk Münster

Kaffee Hag Ortswappen: Borken, Provinz Westfalen, Registerungsbezirk Münster

Kaffee Hag Ortswappen: Goslar, Provinz Hannover, Regierungsbezirk Hildesheim

As an alternative you can always grab the “Ortswappen” from the appropriate page on Wikipedia. These are typically available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 license, which makes the image in the public domain. As an example, the Ortwappen for my local community, Mörfelden-Walldorf is available under this license.

taken from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wappen_M%C3%B6rfelden-Walldorf.png

Coat-of-Arms for Mörfelden-Walldorf, via Wikipedia

Final Thoughts

As a bonus I find it useful to use these Coat-of-Arms to identify places in what was Silesia. Following  the Second World War some of the places where my wife’s ancestors were born (e.g. Breslau) have become part of Poland. As a result both Ancestry and Family Tree Maker expect the current Polish town names, rather than the old German names that match the family records.

One downside of this approach is that these images appear as “Photo hints” for other Ancestry users. Naturally it may irritate a few folks. On the other hand I have seem some people use the images in their family tree. I guess it’s swings and roundabouts !

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Managing your DNA matches with Excel

Normally when I write something here it’s because I think I have something useful to say. This time I want to write about how I record my DNA matches in Excel. I’ll be honest, I’m sure I’m not the first person to do this, and I’m not suggesting that this is the best method, but it does help.

Firstly I should explain why you should record your matches. As I see it there are at least five great benefits of doing this:

  • It’s cross-platform i.e. it keeps all your matches from Ancestry, 23andMe, MyHeritage etc. in one place.
  • DNA matches sometimes disappear from your online lists. The matching algorithm used by the DNA testing companies do change, but more commonly matches choose to remove/hide their information.
  • Recording matches can show you patterns of inheritance that you might not otherwise spot. As an example I can see that someone that shares my mitochondrial DNA as both she and I are on the same direct maternal line. There are plenty of examples online where yDNA or mitochondrial DNA has helped prove a theory, probably non more-so than the identification of Richard III of England from his mitochondrial DNA.
  • You can get statistics from this data. I love statistics, more of this later.
  • You don’t keep going back to the same DNA matches, only to realise you’ve already done the research.

I should mention that this article focuses on working with results from ancestry.com. This is because it is the main source of cousin-matching information. Roughly 85% of my cousin-matches come from ancestry.com (the joy of statistics).

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