Whitby Gin: Spirit firm raises £200,000 in fundraising bid for new home near Whitby Abbey

A Yorkshire couple who went on holiday in Scotland seven years ago returned home with a spirited idea for a better work-life balance. Having met while studying at Loughborough University, Jessica Slater and Luke Pentith had both settled into corporate jobs, splitting their time between London and Manchester.

However, while sampling some locally made Scottish gins, the couple came up with an idea that would allow them to move back to Ms Slater’s native Whitby to live and work.

They spotted a gap in the market to create a gin taking inspiration and ingredients from the wild moors and coastlines around the historic seaside town.

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After a year exploring the feasibility and getting the necessary licences and permissions, they began making their own Whitby Gin in the utility room at Mr Pentith’s parents’ house.

Whitby Gin co-founders, Jessica Slater and Luke Pentith taking inspiration and ingredients from the coastline.Whitby Gin co-founders, Jessica Slater and Luke Pentith taking inspiration and ingredients from the coastline.
Whitby Gin co-founders, Jessica Slater and Luke Pentith taking inspiration and ingredients from the coastline.

Mr Pentith and Ms Slater sent some bottles to a couple of independent shops in Whitby in the hope they might stock them and the couple thought they would make a few batches every three to six months.

However, demand for the product from local businesses and pubs, as well as tourists wanting to take the spirit of Whitby home with them, far exceeded expectation.

Whitby Distillery relocated to a bigger site in 2021, expanded its product range and became the top-rated distillery in the UK on Trustpilot, with more than 250,000 bottles sold and 3.5 million gin and tonics enjoyed.

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Now the couple are embarking on the construction of a new £1.8m distillery in the shadows of Whitby Abbey, having acquired two barns in an agreement with the Strickland Estate.

Whitby Gin.Whitby Gin.
Whitby Gin.

The buildings were damaged in a farm fire in 1998 and have remained empty and derelict since, with no-one having had a feasible business plan to bring them back into use.

While savings and business growth have provided much of the money needed to fund the development, Whitby Distillery has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the rest.

Following a private launch to pre-registered investors, where it achieved its initial target of £200,000 within just three hours, the distillery has extended the opportunity to everyone for the remainder of this month.

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Ms Slater said: “We believe that people and provenance are at the heart of everything we do.

“Our ambitions extend beyond the horizon. With a focus on provenance and sustainability, the new distillery will serve as a launchpad for exciting new spirits and an all-weather visitor attraction.

“On the back of the irreplicable new distillery, there will be huge opportunity to grow through trade, retail, tourism and export.

“We have so much planned for the coming years.”

She added: “We invite people to join us on this journey. The investment isn't just a financial opportunity; it’s a chance to be part of something truly special.”

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Last year the distillery introduced a walkway scheme where people could buy the opportunity to set their family’s name in history and celebrate the life of a loved one for future generations.

A unique pathway will be created in the grounds of the new distillery called the Spirits Walkway which will be made of cast-iron plates featuring the names.

Hundreds of the plates have already been sold.

The UK gin market is poised for significant growth, with forecasts of a 50 per cent increase by 2028, and the company says it is aiming for significant growth itself over the next five years with a target to increase sales by 500 per cent.

Whitby Gin also takes part in the 1% for the Planet movement, and has made a substantial contribution the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Surfers Against Sewage.

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The 1% for the Planet scheme encourages businesses to commit to donating at least one per cent of their annual sales to environmental causes.

The distillery said it chose Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Surfers Against Sewage because the two organisations align with its values.

Mr Pentith has also joined the local lifeboat crew, and Whitby Distillery has crafted a dark spiced rum in collaboration with the RNLI, with 10 per cent from each bottle sold being donated to the charity.

In February, the distillery handed over a cheque for £5,000 which it had raised in just six months.

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