Yorkshire’s self-built distillery begins whisky production
A Yorkshire-based start-up distillery announced that distillation of its inaugural single malt whisky has begun.
Based in Sutton-on-the-Forest, Cooper King Distillery has made the announcement following news that it sold out of its pre-order whisky casks after just 10 days of sales.
The highly anticipated new-make spirit will be robust, flavourful, and unlike any other in the country, thanks to inspiration from the founders’ experiences working with award-winning whisky distilleries in Tasmania.
Locally grown Yorkshire barley will be traditionally floor-malted in England’s oldest working maltings, before being mashed and fermented at the distillery. It will then be distilled in the 900 litre Tasmanian copper pot still, which is the only one of its kind in Europe. On-site maturation follows, in casks coopered by the country’s only independent master cooper.
Commenting on this milestone, co-founder Abbie Neilson said:
“We may be one of the smallest whisky distilleries in England, but what matters to us is not the quantity of whisky produced, but the flavour of that whisky, its provenance, and the story behind the spirit. Sourcing great barley, working with a superb master cooper, and carrying out mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation under one roof allows us to truly celebrate terroir.”
The distillery was founded in 2016 by Abbie Neilson, a scientist, and Chris Jaume, a chartered architect. With a desire to leave the rat race in 2013, the couple travelled to Australia where they discovered the now world-renowned Tasmanian whisky scene.
Drawing on inspiration gained during their travels, Abbie and Chris gave up their established careers to set up a truly independent, self-built and sustainable distillery at home in Yorkshire.
Chris Jaume, co-founder of Cooper King Distillery commented:
“Five years ago Abbie and I quit our jobs, flew to Australia, and fell in love with the Tasmanian way of making whisky. Since then we have worked incredibly hard to realise our dream of distilling an English whisky underpinned by craftsmanship, honesty and adventure. We are thrilled that the day has come, and malt spirit is flowing at the distillery.”
Cooper King Distillery set up a ‘Founders’ Club’ in a bid to offer craft spirit lovers a unique opportunity to become part of the Cooper King family and help make English distilling history. With a variety of membership tiers starting from £30, ‘copper members’ will be the first to benefit from the inaugural whisky.
More than 75% of copper memberships have been sold and 220 bottles of whisky drawn from the distillery’s first-filled cask, including the highly prized bottle No. 1, will be sent to copper members of the distillery’s Founders’ Club, as a reward for their contribution to the venture.
The first self-built gin and whisky distillery in England, Cooper King Distillery had a team of friends, family and Founders’ Club members working together on the construction. Following completion, the first batch of gin was released in May 2018.
With a strong focus on having a positive impact on the environment, a percentage of gin sales are donated to plant trees in the Yorkshire Dales, and the entire distillery is powered by 100% green energy.
About Cooper King Distillery
Located in the heart of Yorkshire, Cooper King Distillery is a self-built, family-owned gin and whisky distillery built on the site of a stable, producing award-winning sustainable spirits underpinned by craftsmanship, honesty and adventure. Formed in 2016, by Dr Abbie Neilson, a former scientist and Chris Jaume, a chartered architect, Cooper King Distillery is independent, self-built and powered by 100% green energy.
With a desire to leave the rat race, co-founders Chris and Abbie travelled across the globe, in search of sun, sand and adventure. Whilst visiting Australia the pair became fascinated by Tasmania’s eight operational whisky distilleries and the hand-crafted premium whisky industry, which was just starting to take off in this part of the world.
With a mission to bring their discoveries back to Britain, Chris and Abbie set up a truly independent craft distillery back home in Sutton-on-the-Forest in North Yorkshire.
Taught by Bill Lark, the godfather of Tasmanian whisky, and armed with a wealth of knowledge gathered from across Tasmania’s now internationally acclaimed New World whisky distilleries and beyond, Cooper King Distillery produces authentic premium spirits, using the highest quality ingredients that England has to offer.
The distillery’s inaugural product, Cooper King Dry Gin was released in May 2018.
Hand distilled using honey from the distillery’s beehives, lemongrass and a touch of locally-grown lavender, the gin has incredible savoury lemongrass flavours, a silky mouthfeel and delicate floral notes.
Produced in micro-batches, Cooper King is the first distillery in Yorkshire to combine innovative cold vacuum distillation with traditional hot copper-pot distillation, in a process that’s tailored to suit each individual botanical, ensuring they extract the freshest, fullest flavours.
The initial reviews of Cooper King Dry Gin are extremely positive, with The Gin Fayre describing it as a ‘game changer’, and the Gin Foundry, one of the foremost specialist authorities on gin, commenting: “It’s a big spirit, rich and spiced. […]. It is super tasty and we’ll definitely keep coming back for more.”
The company is the first distillery in Europe to join international environment initiative, 1% for the Planet, which sees at least 1% of sales of Cooper King Dry Gin contributed towards environmental non-profits. Cooper King Distillery will plant one square metre of native woodland for every bottle sold through a partnership with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.
Its initial batch of premium single malt whisky, made using Yorkshire barley, is scheduled to go into production in summer 2019, with a projected release date of 2023.
Inspired by Chris’s great-great-grandfather, Charles Cooper King, the name Cooper King has rich historical ties to England and Yorkshire. Born in 1843, Charles, who was Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Marine Artillery, traced the Cooper King family history back to 1030, where he identified the Pigot family of Yorkshire, whose shield can still be seen today throughout Ripon Cathedral.
The Cooper King Distillery Founders’ Club is offering craft spirit lovers a unique opportunity to become part of the Cooper King family and help make English distilling history. Membership tiers start from £30, which is ideal for a gift, through to more established memberships which include a name engraving on the Founders’ Plaque in the distillery. Memberships also offer first access to rare and collectable whisky in the form of new, special, and small-batch releases, individually numbered single cask releases from their early casks, plus the chance to own Cooper King Distillery’s Inaugural Release bottle #1.
To find out more about Cooper King Distillery, visit http://www.cooperkingdistillery.co.uk/
To join the Founders’ Club, visit https://www.cooperkingdistillery.co.uk/founders-club/