What did you do before creating Hotham's Distillery and gins?
Emma was an English teacher in Leicestershire, and has worked full-time on the business since August 2018, and Simon worked for many years in IT and the newspaper industry, leaving this in February 2019.
What made you decide to create your distillery?
One of our first dates was at a gin school, and we loved that creative process so much we bought and licensed a baby still to use at home. We developed Hotham’s Original Gin and Hotham’s Cardamom Gin on our baby stills, and, after receiving some great feedback from a master distiller, we decided to upscale and take our spirits to market.
Our Cardamom Gin was developed by Simon after he was diagnosed with numerous allergies which meant he could no longer enjoy beer. He wanted to create a gin which would go as well with spicy foods as beer does. Emma’s background in teaching and our shared love of gin and distilling led us to open our Gin School - we love showing guests how we make our gin, and we love passing on our passion for truly handcrafted spirits.
Can you tell us more about the distillery and botanicals?
Our distillery is tiny! We often wonder if we’re the smallest distillery in the country! We’re also unique because our distillery is housed in a Grade 2 listed retail arcade, so everything we do is on display for all to see. All our gin is made on small stills in micro-batches - never any more than 50 bottles. Every part of our process is traditional and as hands-on as it can be - even the labels are applied by hand - and every single bottle is filled and approved by either Emma or Simon. We make sure our botanicals are ethically sourced from companies with the same values as ours, and we have around 80 botanicals which Gin School guests can choose from when they’re creating their own gin.
What can visitors expect when they visit the distillery and gin school?
During the week, we’ll usually be busy making our gin, so visitors can see this process through the windows into our distillery, or they’re welcome to come in, ask questions, and get a real insight into craft distilling. At weekends we run our popular - and award-winning! - Gin School where we teach guests all about the history of gin and about different types of gin and distillation. We help them put together their own recipe which they then distil on one of our baby stills, leaving with a full sized bottle of their very own, unique gin. And, of course, there’s a steady flow of gin and tonics for everyone!
What have been your biggest achievements so far?
Neither of us has ever worked as hard as we have during the last year, but we’ve been rewarded with some very prestigious awards in the few months we’ve been up and running. We were awarded the ‘Garbutt + Elliott Taste of Yorkshire’ for our Cardamom Gin in March 2019, which was quickly followed by the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Award for ‘Remarkable Food Experience 2019’ in April.
Simon won the Hull & East Yorkshire People in Business ‘Start-up Entrepreneur Award 2019’, and we are also finalists in an incredible four categories in the coveted White Rose Awards 2019, to be judged in November. Just a few days ago, we were delighted to find out that Hotham’s Cardamom Gin has been awarded the Silver Medal for Flavoured Gin in the International Wine and Spirit Competition, scoring 91 points out of 100, competing against some of the top names in the industry. To say we’re over the moon with what we’ve achieved this year is an understatement. It looks like all that hard work was worth it after all!
How would you describe your gin in 3 words?
Intense, versatile, unforgettable
What's your favourite way to drink your gins?
We like to drink our gin as simply as possible - you should be able to taste the gin, not a heavily flavoured tonic or a bowlful of garnish. Our Hotham’s Original Gin is best with a premium Indian Tonic over ice, and Hotham’s Cardamom Gin pairs beautifully with an elderflower tonic over ice. Lots of our customers also enjoy our Cardamom Gin with a ginger ale.
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
One of Emma’s favourites is The Botanist Gin, for Simon it's Gin Sul, and we both enjoy trying other Yorkshire-distilled gins.
What's next for Hotham's - any exciting plans you can share?
We’re always planning our next move! We have a couple of new spirits in the pipeline, and we also have big plans for Hotham’s Gin School - we’re talking to several parties interested in taking a franchise from us, so watch out for a second Hotham’s Gin School soon!