British troops fighting in Holland during the Thirty Years' War were given 'dutch courage' to warm them up in the freezing cold weather and boost their spirits before battle. On their return to Britain, the troops developed their own varieties but these early Gins were uncontrolled and of poor quality. This resulted in much of London going to ruin which forced Parliament in the 1740s to restrict the production and selling of gin.
At the same time the whaling industry was booming in Whitby. The early whalers consisted of both local fishermen and a number of Dutch specialists who got the Whitby fisherman acquired to the taste of jenever, keeping them warm out on the North Sea.
Since the production of gin was prohibited on land, the Whitby fishermen used the town's smuggling talents to get the ingredients ashore.
Smuggling wasn't just a man's job, in Whitby, thefishermen's wives were encouraged to get involved as they could get away with many of their crimes unnoticed “ aside from their buttons bursting, from hiding contraband goods. According to tales of the times, there was a clever way in which certain Whitby women managed to bring in prohibited goods. In fact, when a woman did lend her mind to smuggling, she was full of resources, and tricks, and impudence, and energy more so than any man�.
The Whitby recipe is a combination of those smuggled items as well as local products including moorland heather flowers, honey and sugar kelp.
Hand distilled in small batches, they fill, label and package each of their bottles by hand.
The carefully selected botanicals are a mix of the traditional elements including Juniper, coriander seed, citrus peels and Liquorice Root. Along with Heather tip, Yorkshire Moors Honey and Sugar Kelp foraged from Robin Hood Bay.
You may notice a pearlescent glow when tonic or ice is added to Whitby gin. It can go from clear to cloudy because of the flavoursome oils released from the botanicals. This can happen because they choose not to chill-filter the gin. To do this would remove the oils and in turn reduce the bold flavour.
Whitby Gin is a sweet savour gin. It is refreshing on the tongue with a lasting finish representing harsh North Sea crashing against East Cliff, the home of the Whitby Abbey. The lasting earthy finish signifies the range of the rolling heather moorland.