An old school-friend of mine is a bit of a ‘completist’. All during his years at school he collected bus timetables and bus tickets from the many bus companies that existed in the 1960’s onwards. He then got the cinema bug and made it his mission to visit all existing cinema buildings that either still worked as small independent chain cinemas or had ‘gone dark’ but the buildings were still in existence. I think this coincided around the time of his expressed aim to visit every JD Wetherspoon’s public house in the UK. Then an interest in single malt whisky kicked in.
I don’t know how to tell him but his whisky list is going to get longer, now that a relatively new Yorkshire distillery is working towards releasing the first Yorkshire single malt – ‘Spirit of Yorkshire’.
A significant proportion of all malting barley produced in England is grown in the Yorkshire Wolds, a fact that makes the village of Hunmanby an ideal location from which to launch ‘Spirit of Yorkshire’, a bold new undertaking begun by successful beer producer Tom Mellor and his business partner David Thompson.
Mr Mellor grows barley over 650 acres (263 hectares) on his Wolds farm that is also home to his multiple award-winning Wold Top Brewery.
The distillery has been developed on Hunmanby Industrial Estate, located just three miles from Mr Mellor’s farm, which is the source of all the barley and spring water used to produce its unique single malt. The development phase has benefited from guidance provided by the late renowned whisky expert Dr Jim Swan, who helped set up and provide advice to with several award winning distilleries like Yamazaki in Japan and Kavalan in Taiwan, not forgetting numerous others over the border in Scotland.
Spirit of Yorkshire Ltd.
Unit 1,Hunmanby Industrial Estate,
Hunmanby, North Yorkshire, UK
|Founded in||(Incorporated) 2012||Telephone
Phone: +44 (0) 1723 891758
(Litres of pure alcohol per annum)
|Details not available||Visitor Centre||
Yes, see website for details.
Nestled in the village of Hunmanby on the North Yorkshire coast, the Mellor family has farmed 650 acres (263 hectares) of arable land for generations, high on the Yorkshire Wolds, where the hills roll down to the North Sea.
With revenue from traditional income streams falling, since the start of the Millennium, it soon became obvious that if the viability of the farm and the family’s income was to be sustained, then some form of business diversification was a necessity.
After researching their vision for around twelve months, to produce Yorkshire’s best real ales Tom and Gill Mellor founded ‘Wold Top Brewery’ in 2003.
Although they brewed their first ale in a converted barn. Nearly a decade and a half later the brewery has won several awards and the brewery team is deservedly proud of their range of all year round and special edition cask and bottled beers that include: ‘Wold Top Bitter’, gluten free beer ‘Against the Grain’ and ‘Golden Summer’.
Traditional methods and recipes are employed to brew real ales with character, reflecting the fact that the couple pride themselves on brewing superior quality beer made exclusively from home grown barley that has been malted by family maltsters, which is added to selected British grown hops to impart a distinctive flavour. They also make use of water that has been gently filtered by the chalk of the Yorkshire Wolds, drawn from the farm’s own borehole, such that this pure, chalk-filtered water travels only metres to the brewery.
The Mellors explain their commitment to being guardians of their land for future generations:
“We surround our crops with two metre margins to maintain wildlife biodiversity and maintain 35 acres of species rich chalk grassland that is home to varied flora and fauna. We believe that all of these measures result in better crops and tastier ales and we hope that you agree.”
The couple are very proud and protective of not just their local environment but also of the people who live and work there.
(For more information, visit: http://www.woldtopbrewery.co.uk/)
‘Spirit of Yorkshire’ is Tom Mellor’s newest venture, in partnership with David Thompson, building on the successes of ‘Wold Top Brewery’.
“It is in our nature to explore new opportunities. We are curious about what is possible, happy to embrace new thinking and our distillery will produce the very first Yorkshire Malt Whisky.”
The distillery has been built from the ground up, to create Yorkshire’s first Single Malt Whisky. Since whisky production began, they have been crafting spirits in batches using 100% home-grown malting barley and the same water used in the brewery business that originates out of the chalk under their feet. All the ingredients used and production processes are fully controlled by the pair. New, bespoke copper pot stills are employed to distil ‘new make spirit’, using traditional whisky distillation methods. Overall, a grain to glass approach is fully embraced.
The Distillery is now fully in operation and has laid down the first casks of the ‘New Make Spirit’, which must be matured for a minimum of three years before it can be called a whisky.
Each cask contains 300 bottles of whisky and the first casks will be ready for bottling around 2020, depending on how well it matures in the varied types of casks. As far as I can ascertain, the distillery has taken the decision to mature their spirit in both used bourbon (initially) and sherry casks (Pedro Ximenez, Fino and Oloroso) (at a later stage), so once bottled we can expect a varied amount of flavoursome whiskies.
However, a number of other spirits produced from the same process will be available to customers to sample earlier. Currently, the company is planning to release a young-aged spirit as a pre-release, which will give an indication of how the main spirit is maturing. Other possibilities could include a Yorkshire gin, although this remains in the feasibility/ planning stage of development at the moment.
To celebrate the progress made thus far, Spirit of Yorkshire officially launched its programme of distillery tours and masterclasses, led by the distillers themselves. As well as having the opportunity to see behind the scenes of a working distillery, visitors will also enjoy exclusive tastings of their ‘New Make Spirit’.
In its visitor centre and distillery shop, visitors desiring further insights and understanding of the global appeal of whisky are also given an opportunity to discover ‘whiskies of the world’, along with the possibility to purchase Spirit of Yorkshire merchandise as a souvenir of their visit.
Visitors are also invited to enjoy a proper cup of coffee and tasty dishes made from local produce in its adjoining Pot Still Coffee Shop.
Messrs. Mellor and Thompson anticipate that 15,000 people will visit the distillery in its first year.
In a recent interview, Mr Mellor stated:
“Making a whisky from scratch requires curiosity, commitment and, most of all, time. We’ve invested heavily in all three, taking the best of tradition and following our instincts to produce what promises to be a unique, noteworthy whisky.”
Co-director, Mr Thompson, added:
“There’s something deeply satisfying about creating a whisky instilled with the spirit of the people and the place we live. From sowing the barley to distilling the ‘new make spirit’ and finally laying the casks down to mature, it’s exciting to think that people will enjoy the fruits of our labours in 10, 20 or even 30 years’ time.”
“This is the first whisky distillery in Yorkshire. We grow all the barley on Tom’s farm and the water comes from a borehole on the farm but it has taken four years to get the distillery in place.
This area is fundamentally the best malting barley area in the country so we thought, how can we put it to good use in this region? So we send our crop to Muntons maltsters in Bridlington and they send it back malted.
The beauty is, we can say exactly which field each batch of barley came from.”
Mr Thompson further commented:
“The first objective was to create an easy drinking signature malt produced in bourbon casks, before the distillery looks to add to its range with more complex whiskies, using the likes of sherry and red wine casks.”
In keeping with its local provenance, a large colony of gannets at nearby Bempton Cliffs, inspired the gannet that appears on both the distillery’s logo and their the whisky barrels.
In addition to attracting visitors to tour the distillery, they are encouraging people to follow their journey on social media.
Interested parties can also sign up for their newsletter or purchase a ‘sleeping cask’ after its ‘long sleep’, to be part of the Spirit of Yorkshire’s history, by joining their ‘Explorers Club’.
The company is offering a limited number of casks for sale this year. By becoming a member of the Explorers Club, members will have a 200 litre, uniquely numbered cask in their name and will become part of an elite, private, cask ownership group.
Spirit of Yorkshire’s promotional leaflet adds:
“Whether you are a whisky enthusiast, business associate, club or group of friends, only a handful of people across the world will be able to boast that they own a first production Spirit of Yorkshire cask of whisky.
As the distillery grows you can be sure your individual cask will become
a prized and sought after possession.
Even if you are not a whisky expert, you may choose to purchase a cask as a shrewd investment. Good returns from whisky maturation have been achieved over many years, but only distillers and blenders have been able to benefit and although there are no guarantees, you should expect to profit by selling maturing whisky.“*
Further information can be obtained via their website or the following link:
The two entrepreneurial businessmen seem to have a real passion for what they are intending and the professionalism shown in getting such a prospect off the ground means that it’s going to be extremely interesting over the next five to ten years to see how a single malt made in Yorkshire measures up to the more established snifters over the border. Given they are obsessive about distilling to the highest standards, they have all the indications of giving their northern neighbours a good run for their money!
*Information about the Spirit of Yorkshire Cask offer is provided for illustrative/information purposes only.
Escapement.uk.com encourages potential investors to check the terms and conditions about this offer carefully and seek independent advice before investing.