Gin community lends a helping hand to York Gin

The gin producing community in Yorkshire is open to collaboration and helping one another, according to the experience of startup York Gin.

York Gin was launched to the public in 2018 and this year opened its first shop in the city centre.

Co-founder Emma Godivala setting up the firm’s production facilities wasn’t that difficult because other distilleries were willing to help.

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“They’re happy to show you around their distillery, give you advice, see what they did well and see what was not working,” she said. “It’s quite collaborative.”

Emma Godivala, co-founder of York Gin. Pic: James Hardisty

Despite being competitors to a certain extent, other producers in the region were happy to give York Gin a helping hand.

Ms Godivala said: “I picked up the phone to Rare Bird Distillery in Malton because I couldn’t open up a particular bespoke tub of alcohol. I asked how do you get this open?

“He was like you do this but do you want to borrow my specialist tools. Everyone is really friendly. We do actually work together quite a lot. We meet each other at gin fairs anyway.

“We’ve got a shop now, which we opened in April this year. We don’t just sell our gins, we sell several locally made gins so we support each other.”

The reason for the sector’s open nature is down to the diversity of the products on offer. Just as there are lots of different wines, says Ms Godivala, there are lots of varieties of gin. She added: “Gin makers often have a science background anyway so they’re kind of used to collaborating and sharing. That’s how you learn from other people’s mistakes and that’s how you can help other people.”

The collaborative spirit isn’t just restricted to Yorkshire’s gin producers as York Gin found when it went to launch a new variety in London recently.

York Gin opened a shop at Thomas Herbert House in the city centre, partly as a result of demand for people to visit the business. Ms Godivala said: “They could come to the distillery but really it’s a factory. What people want to do is, in some comfort, they want to try the gins and buy the gins.”

The business worked with the York Conservation Trust to open up the historic building and Ms Godivala hopes to open more parts of Thomas Herbert House up.

With an increase in production and the shop opening, York Gin has increased the number of staff it employs.

It now has eight full-time staff members with around 20 ad hoc workers who keep the shop running.

York Gin was set up by a group of friends. The landlord of The Swan, Paul Crossman and Jon Farrow, his close friend and business partner, joined forces with friends Pete McNichol, the previous landlord of The Swan landlord and Harry Cooke. Ms Godivala joined the four of them with her marketing background.

Mr Farrow, however, died in 2017. That slowed the business a little in its launch.

Ms Godivala said: “We’ve kept a fifth of the business for his family. He had a number of children and they work with us as well.

“Our aim is to make sure that we have a sustainable business that can support the five families. That really is our definition of success. If we can do that and support the local economy and support York, then we’d be really happy.”

She added that the business was keen to export but that it wanted to do so in a environmentally friendly way.