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.