Today’s review has a special focus on one distillery: Harrogate Distillery and their award-winning gin brand, Whittaker’s. The distillery was started by Jane and Toby Whittaker in 2015 and is based in Nidderdale, Yorkshire. Whilst only two years old, the distillery has already released an exciting selection of gins.
Whittaker’s Original (42.0% ABV)
A classic and smooth gin made with neutral grain spirit and a botanical mix that includes:
On its own
Nose: An intense, botanical nose that bursts forth from the glass. There is a vibrant mix of juniper and pine notes, from juicy berries and crisp pine needles to fragrant notes of blossom.
Taste: This gin has a lovely, dry flavour with just a touch of sweetness at the end. It has an excellent texture: very smooth with minimal heat – just enough to to add boldness to the flavour profile. Rich and complex juniper notes are complemented by citrus, warm spice, and then fruity berry notes that add both that slight sweetness and also a little tartness and zing. The finish is long and lingering. All-in-all, this is a classic gin that has its own distinguishing flair – delicious!
Gin & Tonic
Beautiful resinous juniper upfront, adding a bright “sparkle” to this drink from the start. A little citrus follows, then the fruity notes of dried berries. A balanced and exceptionally refreshing drink.
This Martini is wonderfully bright, with beautiful pine and juniper notes – crisp and fragrant – that make the cocktail really sing. Dryer flavours follow, working well alongside the powerful juniper, before a touch of more fruity notes on the finish.
Exceptionally smooth. Again, beautifully rich juniper notes come through, bringing with them hints of citrus and coriander. These are followed by a fruity tartness from the berries, which makes this an unusual Negroni, but are also a fantastic addition. Finishing up, this cocktail keeps its classic, mellow bittersweetness.
Whittakers Navy Strength (57.0% ABV)
A higher ABV version of their original gin with the same botanical mix, but a slight adjustment of the botanical balance.
On its own
Nose: Earthy, with a light, sweet florality.
Taste: Very resinous: the juniper absolutely bursts through in this gin, which helps to give you a full appreciation of the berry: from its lighter, floral notes all the way through to deep, soapy cedar.
With Fever-Tree Tonic
A particularly herbal Gin & Tonic with bready notes before a biscuity spice and hints of coriander. Jammy berry notes then develop, before a dry finish that makes this a bold and yet thoroughly refreshing drink.
Bold and very zesty, with bright, deep, and resinous notes of cedar and juniper. The floral finish is long and lingering, neatly balancing and complementing that juniper. This is a powerful example of a classic Gin Martini; one that should be served very cold and, because of its great sippability, enjoyed sparingly.
A citrus and coriander-forward Negroni with a great level of zestiness. This has a perfect intensity of flavour and would make a good aperitif.
Whittaker’s Clearly Sloe
A modern take on the sloe gin. Sloe berries are infused or macerated in the Whittaker’s Original Gin for six months, before the liquid is redistilled with a little liquorice. The resultant gin retains much of the character of the sloes, but none of the colour. Unlike most sloe gins, it is unsweetened.
On its own
Nose: A fantastic nose full of the rich, slightly tart notes of the sloe berry coming through, along with more jammy berry notes and an aromatic nuttiness.
Taste: Sloe berry comes through again on the palate, along with deep, resinous juniper notes. A little sweetness from the fruit followed, accompanied by a touch of marzipan. This is an absolutely superb spirit and a great example of a distilled sloe gin.
With Fever-Tree Tonic
The sloe berry flavours shine through: sweet and jammy with just a little tartness, followed by light, floral almond flavours and a fresh, citrus finish.
This is a superb cocktail that tastes just like an extra dry sloe gin: bold and resinous juniper to start, which develops into the bright stone fruit flavours of the berries. Delicious!
The sloe berries really shine through in this cocktail – there is a lovely combination of the dry fruitiness and sweet almond & marzipan, all with a restrained bitterness. This is a totally different take on the Negroni, but a fantastic one.
Whittaker’s have crafted a superb selection of gins with significant range, whilst keeping an apparent house-style. The imaginations of Toby and Jane really come through in their products and, whilst I enjoy all of the spirits, I always find myself drawn back to their original London Dry Gin.
If you want to try the full range, including their contemporary Pink Particular Gin, I can heartily recommend the gift pack of four 20cl bottles available on their website: