Brewtown Yorkshire Gin Tours

Monday, 18 February 2019

Press experience gifted from Brewtown Tours

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Cooper King Lemongrass botanicals

Earlier this month on a pretty dreary Tuesday I grabbed a train from Sheffield to York to meet up with Mark from Brewtown Tours, Sophie from Blog Up North who arranged the event, Sarah from SunshineSarahXO and whole host of other strangers for a lovely little gincident!

Although I had previously met Mark at Beer X (a craft brewing trade show) and a visit to Thornbridge Brewery every one else is just like most of my life, talking to strangers about similar passions and eventually meeting them at events!

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Cooper King Brewtown bus

As an avid beer lover Mark set up Brewtown Tours upon returning to Yorkshire after sixteen years abroad and seeing the incredible increase in microbreweries and the wide range of styles they were producing. BrewTown Tours gave people the chance to experience Yorkshires best kept beer secrets, enjoying, supporting and sampling from working breweries with insight from the people making the beer themselves.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Cooper King botanicals

With the ever increasing popularity of the beer tours and continuous interest in a gin tour Brewtown Tours created another answer to THE perfect booze knowledge filled day. All whilst enjoying the products and the wit, knowledge and accessibility of your very own designated driver! Each tour consists of a minimum of 6 people and a maximum of 8 (if you need more just ask Mark for a quote) so you know you are getting a true hands on experience!

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Cooper King botanicals

The first stop on the tour was to Cooper King, to visit the lovely Chris and Abbie and England’s only self built whisky and gin distillery. Chris greeted us and took us through their story, whilst travelling in Australia and Tasmania in 2014 Abbie and Chris ended up researching eight operational whisky distilleries in Tasmania for a friends whisky blog and here they found their inspiration and passion for hand crafted whisky and made it their mission to bring that enthusiasm back to England.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Cooper King Yorkshire Gin Map

In 2016 they founded Cooper King Distillery, using their Founders’ Club to raise funds and interest for the distillery whilst sourcing the finest local ingredients and established craftsmen to self build their distillery from an old stable.

During our visit it was clear that Cooper King were closer than ever to distilling their first whisky so although we were there for gin it was so interesting to hear about the process! 

As equally interesting was their unique approach behind Cooper King Dry Gin. All hand distilled, bottled and labeled at their distillery using a state of the art vacuum distillation process Cooper King have created a distinct Dry Gin using locally grown lavender, beautiful lemongrass and honey from their family beehives.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Cooper King

After a tour of the distillery we went back into their beautiful tasting room to sample their Dry Gin neat for an exceptionally smooth gin with floral notes that weren’t too sweet, thanks to the lemongrass. We then added a little tonic and some fresh rosemary as a garnish to enjoy the rest of our sample.
Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Cooper King

Chris was then kind enough to let us sample their limited-edition gin made in collaboration with Skosh a Michelin awarded restaurant. The Smoked + Spiced Dry Gin balanced perfect flavours across the palate using black cardamom, Szechuan peppercorn and nori for full bodied flavour with a kick. And we were lucky enough to try it!

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Cooper King

As if they could make their Dry Gin any better, Cooper King try to be as sustainable as possible so for every bottle of gin sold one square metre of woodland is planted through their Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust partnership. They also constantly look at ways to reduce waste and it was so interesting to hear about all the inventive ways Abbie and Chris are reducing, reusing and recycling.

 Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Cooper King

Just before we left Chris also explained the history of the Cooper King name, showing us his family history and crest which his great-great-grand father painstakingly researched including the Cooper King shield and how it made its way into their logo. It was so interesting to hear all the history behind the name and brought a perfect connection to the distillery itself. Find out more here or even better book on the tour and hear it all for yourself.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Cooper King

Cooper King Distillery was the perfect way to start the gin tour, settling into an late morning tipple in a beautiful setting before moving onto the second stop.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Rare Bird Distillery

Our next stop was Rare Bird, based in Malton, run by Matt Stewart who after retiring as a firefighter took a shine to making Gin. We entered their stunning distillery, gin school and shop in the North Yorkshire market town with picturesque views and a beautiful interior, i'd have happily drunk their gin with that view all day!

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Rare Bird Distillery

Matt and his wife Elizabeth dedicated a lot of time to refining their signature London Dry Gin made in their 300-litre copper still ‘Florence’ who takes centre stage in their distillery. Using the finest botanicals including green pepper, juniper, hibiscus, rosemary and citrus for a smooth dry gin Rare Bird London Dry pairs perfectly with blood orange or pink grapefruit with a simple tonic.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Rare Bird Distillery

Their second gin, a Rhubarb and Ginger Gin was a complete revelation! Rare Bird did not give into the sweet liqueur trend that has swept the UK. By adding no sugar throughout the process their Rhubarb and Ginger Gin has a strong powerful flavour, keeping the tartness of the rhubarb with warming notes from the ginger. Matt recommended a slice of orange and a mediterranean tonic as the perfect serve for this one. You could have left me on the beautiful chesterfield sofas in the Rare Bird distillery, this gin in hand, the Malton view and a book and I’d be in heaven.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Rare Bird Distillery

If this isn’t enough, Rare Bird also run a gin school where you can distill your own 70cl gin to take home and even reorder! With an incredible and unusual stock of botanicals I can imagine some very unique gins leave their distillery from these gin schools. This is not part of the Brewtown tour but can be added if you enquire ahead of time.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Rare Bird Distillery

The end of our tour at Rare Bird fell perfectly into lunch time and it’s perfect location in Talbot Yard meant I could get beaut veggie pastries alongside an array of independent bakers, patisserie, coffee roaster and ice cream parlour.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Hooting Owl Distillery

Our final distillery of the day was Hooting Owl Distillery at Barmby Moor House. Our host Dom exceeded his hosting skills with incredible anecdotes, hospitality and generous measures!

With six gins in their roster Hooting Owl brought a complete profile to this distillery. From their Signature Gin, Veterans Gin and their Tour de Yorkshire range exploring Yorkshire’s incredible diversity!

Hooting Owl’s Signature Gin brought together sixteen botanicals including grapefruit and cubeb pepper for a smooth gin with a rich aroma with it’s much stronger brother the Veterans Gin at 48% bringing a much more robust flavour to the table. We sampled each gin neat before adding tonic and the taste difference was unbelievable and really showed what difference the ABV made to the flavour.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Hooting Owl Distillery

Dom then took us through their Yorkshire range, where Hooting Owl Distilleries character really shone through. Each gin used botanicals based on the characteristics of the area and mirrored what a diverse county Yorkshire is.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Hooting Owl Distillery

Their North Yorkshire Gin was inspired by the North Yorkshire Moors, using heather and bilberries harvested between Thirsk and Whitby for a smooth and slightly fruity gin wildly different in comparison with their West Yorkshire Gin. Inspired by Bradford and incorporating spiced cardamom, turmeric and cumin sweetened with cassia bark and liquorice. Before we added tonic (or in the West Yorkshire case ginger ale) to our neat sample of the West Yorkshire Gin we added star anise which completely changed the gin again. Part of the day that really showed the uniqueness of each gin was the ability for a small garnish to completely change the flavour profile and bring another level to the gin.
Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Hooting Owl Distillery

We then tried their East Yorkshire Gin which incorporated kelp, lavender, sage, honey and hawthorne berries to echo the Yorkshire coastline. With this gin the botanicals really hit the nose before you even try the gin for a maritime hit with the lavender, honey and hawthorne berries sweetening the kick from the kelp. The final gin we tried was Hooting Owl’s South Yorkshire Gin inspired by the Barnsley Chop for a herby gin infused with mint and rosemary. Finishing with a refreshingly savoury and bitter orange note.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Hooting Owl Distillery

Dom's passion to share not only Hooting Owl’s wide range of gins but also their ever developing distillery was incredibly interesting. There has been the story behind each gin and their flavours that has really made this gin tour stand out. These are real people putting passion into a product they love, and it is through this tour that Mark has brought them all together and given the public a chance to see a side of gin that you can never get in a bar or a single distillery tour.

Brewtown Gin Tour TypeWriterTeeth Blog Hooting Owl Distillery

One thing I do think i've missed in this post is the fun we had, I don't think I stopped laughing from the moment we met Mark at 10am till our final pint before getting on the train at the end of the day. Mark has managed to create a knowledgeable experience day in a relaxed, stress free environment and I met some talented, lovely and insightful people in the process.

If you're passionate about gin and fancy doing something a little different I highly recommend one of Mark’s tours. Be it a present for a partner, a day out, corporate day or an event like a hen or stag party it really will be something to remember and something completely different to any gin distillery tour you could do anywhere else!

Mark seriously knows his stuff, and the distilleries you get to visit reflect that. Passion shone through each distillery and shows you just how different gin can be. From the differences in the distilling process to choosing flavour profiles and serves. But what they do have in common is the passion and enthusiasm for creating the best gin possible with the finest ingredients whilst supporting Yorkshire independent businesses.

The Brewtown Gin Tour is just £80 per person including transport for the day from York Station, three guided gin distillery tours and gin sampling. BARGAIN. Find out more here.

This gin tour was kindly gifted from Brewtown Tours in return for honest feedback so all thoughts and opinions are my own. But I bloody loved it!

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