York Gin to share samples through a socially distanced 'vending machine'

A gin shop in York is re-emerging from lockdown with its socially-distanced contraption, based on the world’s first vending machine, that will serve its customers samples in a safe manner.

Jo Hird and Susannah Baines of York Gin showing off the York Gin shops Pus n Mew machine.
Jo Hird and Susannah Baines of York Gin showing off the York Gin shops Pus n Mew machine.

York Gin shop in the centre of the historic city is reopening today and managers say they’ll keep their socially-distanced gin tasting machine in place, serving free tasters.

Staff stand behind a Perspex screen and pour the gin through a stainless steel pipe into a compostable cup held by the customer.

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It enables the staff to have a safe, socially-distanced conversation about the gin while the customer tastes it.

The contraption is based on the world’s first vending machine, invented during the 18th Century Gin Craze. The machine was known as a ‘Puss ’n’ Mew’.

Customers would buy illicit gin from the cat-shaped machine attached to the outside of a house by putting a penny in a slot and being served through a lead pipe. It was a way to get around a ban on gin sales.

The York Gin vending machine has no lead and no pennies change hands during the free tasting.

Emma Godivala, co-founder and marketing director of York Gin, said: “Before the latest lockdown, customers loved our Puss ‘n’ Mew machine.

“They adored the fact that they could relive a bit of gin’s history in our shop. It was originally introduced because of safety concerns, but has actually turned into a real talking point – something customers really appreciate. We think we’ll keep it in place even when the Covid crisis has passed.”

York Gin was launched to the public in 2018. The following year the business opened its shop.

Earlier this year, the gin company won two Best in England titles at the World Gin Awards 2021.

York Gin Old Tom – a collaboration with the Michelin-starred Star Inn, Harome, – won the Best English Old Tom title for the second year in a row.


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