By Amy MacDonnell on 08 May 2018
Yorkshire’s first gin bar and distillery has launched a unique new spirit – the first produced in Hull in living memory.
Humber Street Distillery Co. is the only bar in Yorkshire with its own in-house distillery and one of just a handful of such venues across the country.
It’s also Hull’s first licensed distillery in decades and its unique Hull Dry Gin is the latest example of the creativity inspired by the exciting reinvention of the city’s Fruit Market quarter.
The bar’s gin still was launched at a VIP evening when guests were the first to savour the fruit-flavoured tipple and raise a toast to the “Spirit of Hull”.
Hull Dry Gin is now on sale by the glass or bottle at Humber Street Distillery as well as at a limited number of other local bars and restaurants. The owners are also exploring opportunities for national distribution of the fruit-flavoured tipple.
The launch followed months of work building, installing and commissioning the bespoke still, which is on display behind a glass wall in the oak-panelled, speakeasy-style bar.
Owners Lee Kirman and Charlotte Bailey have teamed up with Master Distiller Jamie Baxter to capitalise on the explosion in the popularity of gin and the growing trend for boutique brands created by craft distillers. The couple worked with Mr Baxter to develop and refine a unique recipe for their variety of gin, which is the first to carry the city’s name.
Mr Kirman said: “We’re really excited that the gin still is up and running and we’ve brought a long-lost art back to Hull.
“The bar opened just over a year ago and has been a great success. Now the launch of the still and our own unique, home-produced gin is a dream come true for us.
“Customers can enjoy a drink in the bar and admire the still as it works its magic. It’s a fabulous feature and really adds to the experience. Also, as many gin recipes feature fruit, it’s a great tie-in with our location in the Fruit Market.
“It’s always been our ambition to make Humber Street Distillery one of the places you really must visit if you’re coming to Hull and the gin still makes it even more of a draw.”
The bar’s unique new spirit is a citrus-led dry gin, with floral notes, featuring cubeb berries and cassia bark with chamomile flowers, elderflower and pink grapefruit peel.
It adds to Humber Street Distillery’s drinks range of 150 gins, 60 rums, 15 bourbons and a gin-led cocktail menu, including a Fruit Market Martini, featuring Hull Dry Gin, apricot brandy, raspberry spirit and grapefruit juice. The bar also stocks an extensive range of quality wines and craft beers.
Mr Baxter has advised the bar’s owners throughout the project and the still is the 18th he has created over the past 12 years, including founding the City of London Distillery and Chase Distillery in Hereford.
The bar’s owners have made a £90,000 investment in the gin production facilities, including the copper still custom-made to a bespoke specification by world-renowned German distillery maker Holstein.
Mr Baxter said: “The still is stunningly beautiful and makes Humber Street Distillery a real destination. I think people will love visiting the bar to see the still and, of course, enjoy the gin it produces.
“Lee and Charlotte have invested in the rolls royce of stills. It’s a really high-quality piece of equipment that will last for decades and will make a consistently excellent product.
“Every still has its own unique characteristics – that’s one of the beauties of craft distilling. There is science behind it, but also a real art to it.
“There’s no computer controlling this still. Everything is done by hand, by taste, by touch and by listening to the sounds the still makes. The gin it produces is lovingly created. It’s an artisan, hand-made product that is uniquely local and people love that.”
The 150-litre still has a production capacity of 220 bottles a day and will produce Hull Dry Gin for in-house sale and to supply other Hull bars and restaurants, including Hull venues The Minerva, 1884 Dock Street Kitchen, Butler Whites, Furley & Co and The Old House, as well as the Pig & Whistle in nearby Beverley. The branded Hull Dry Gin bottles feature Hull landmarks and have been designed by East Yorkshire-based architectural illustrator Nick Coupland.
Humber Street Distillery already offers gin taster sessions for parties and groups and, now that in-house production has begun, plans to extend that to gin masterclasses and still tours.
The addition of the still and homemade gin adds another attraction to the ever-growing reasons to visit the waterfront Fruit Market area where an ongoing wave of investment is creating Hull’s first urban village.
The £80m regeneration of the Fruit Market is being driven forward by Wykeland Beal, the joint venture company formed by regeneration company Wykeland Group and housebuilder Beal Homes, working in partnership with Hull City Council.
The area’s rejuvenation includes retail, leisure, creative and commercial uses for new and refurbished spaces in and around Humber Street in the heart of the Fruit Market, which for generations was the home of the city’s fruit and veg trade.