Yorkshire’s Cooper King Distillery gets off to a flying start

Abbie Nelson using the  Vacumn gin still   at the  Cooper King Distillery  near Sutton on the Forest.
Abbie Nelson using the Vacumn gin still at the Cooper King Distillery near Sutton on the Forest.
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THE man dubbed the godfather of Tasmanian whisky is helping to inspire a gin revolution in a Yorkshire village.

The Cooper King Distillery has secured partnership agreements with more than 60 outlets across the country within its first three months of trading.

Chris Jaume with a bottle of their Dry Gin at the  Cooper King Distillery  near Sutton on the Forest.

Chris Jaume with a bottle of their Dry Gin at the Cooper King Distillery near Sutton on the Forest.

Based in Sutton-on-the-Forest, North Yorkshire, the start-up gin and whisky distillery released its product, Cooper King Dry Gin, in spring this year and the firm has plans to become a major player in the sector.

The company was founded in 2016 by Dr Abbie Neilson, a scientist and Chris Jaume, a chartered architect. The family-owned gin and whisky distillery has been built on the site of a stable with the aim of creating jobs in rural Yorkshire.

The co-founders came across Tasmania’s booming whisky distilleries during a world tour. They had decided to spend time travelling to study a wide range of business opportunities.

Ms Nielson and Mr Jaume were inspired to set up their own business after studying the work of Bill Lark, who is known as the godfather of Tasmanian whisky, They returned to the UK determined to establish a gin and whisky business of their own which would appeal to a global audience.

Abbie Nelson and Chris Jaume at the  Cooper King Distillery  near Sutton on the Forest.

Abbie Nelson and Chris Jaume at the Cooper King Distillery near Sutton on the Forest.

“The Tasmanian ‘can do’ attitude was quite infectious,’’ said Mr Jaume. “Sutton-on-the-Forest is a brilliant spot for the business.”

Before they established Cooper King Distillery, Ms Neilson and Mr Jaume travelled around Britain to seek advice from distillery owners.

The company also launched a wide-ranging social media campaign in the months leading up to the opening of the distillery to stimulate interest in its products.

Mr Jaume said: “Having only recently released our first product a few of months ago, we’re thrilled to already see it available in more than 60 outlets across the country.

Abbie Nelson and Chris Jaume at the  Cooper King Distillery  near Sutton on the Forest.

Abbie Nelson and Chris Jaume at the Cooper King Distillery near Sutton on the Forest.

“We’re really proud of the success we’ve already experienced on this journey, and so grateful to the many independent stockists that recognise the importance of supporting local producers in the industry.”

Cooper King Dry Gin is now available in independent stores, restaurants and gastro-pubs across the country, from Hastings to Cumbria, and there are a growing number of Founders’ Club members in places such as America, Australia, Japan and Germany.

Its partners include Booths supermarkets, which has stores in Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria and Yorkshire.

Pete Newton, the spirits buyer for Booths said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to work with small artisan producers such as Cooper King Distillery.

“We work hard to champion quality local produce across the region.

“We are looking forward to seeing sales progress as we deliver another new, local gin to our range.”

The distillery has joined the international environmental initiative, 1 per cent for the Planet. As a result, a minimum of 1 per cent of sales of Cooper King Dry Gin are donated towards environmental non-profit schemes.

Through its membership, the company plants one square metre of native English woodland for every bottle sold through a partnership with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.

Other stockists of Cooper King products include House of Malt in Cumbria, Buon Vino in Yorkshire, Loki Wine Merchants in West Midlands and In Vino Veritas in London.

Hand distilled using honey from the distillery’s beehives, lemongrass and a touch of locally- grown lavender, the gin has “savoury lemongrass flavours”, according to Cooper King.

Produced in micro-batches, Cooper King is believed to be the first distillery in Yorkshire to combine cold vacuum distillation with traditional hot copper-pot distillation. Its initial batch of premium single malt whisky, made using Yorkshire barley, is scheduled to go into production this year, with a projected release date of 2023. 

A spokesman said: “The name Cooper King has rich historical ties to England and Yorkshire. It was inspired by Chris’s great-great-grandfather, Charles Cooper King.”

Born in 1843, Charles, who was Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Marine Artillery, traced the Cooper King family history back to 1030, where he found links with the Pigot family of Yorkshire, whose shield can still be seen in Ripon Cathedral.

The reason for the growing demand for craft spirits is because people are beginning to care about where their products come from, according to Mr Jaume.

In the long term, Mr Jaume and Ms Neilson hope to win the title of world’s best whisky with Cooper King.

“An English whisky has never won that before, ” said Mr Jaume.