Cooper King Distillery Tour & Tasting

About Cooper King Distillery

Cooper King Distillery with Co-Founder Chris (Right)
(photo credit: MacComms)

Self-built. Independent. Sustainable. Cooper King Distillery are doing craft gin and whisky their own way in the heart of the Yorkshire countryside. The distillery was founded by a young couple – one scientist and one architect – who quit the 9-5 rat-race in 2014 to seek a life of adventure in Australia. From there, they discovered the booming Tasmanian whisky scene, fell in love with the authenticity of craft spirit production and made it their mission to bring the Tassie ethos back to UK.

Growing Orchard

Chris and Abbie spent the next couple of years sourcing local ingredients and building a 100% green energy distillery from the ground up in Abbie’s parent’s back garden. The inaugural product, Cooper King Dry Gin was released in May 2018. This is hand-distilled using innovative cold-vacuum distillation and uses honey from the distillery beehives, locally grown lemongrass and lavender. They also pledged to donate 1% of sales to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust to plant trees in the local area, have a growing orchard on-site and have a bottle refill scheme to reduce waste.

The first batch of Single Malt Whisky went into production in 2019 and is currently sat barrels crafted by England’s last independent master cooper, with a projected release date of 2024. It is made using a Yorkshire brewing barley and distilled in a unique copper pot still shipped from Tasmania – the only one of its kind in Europe. It is non-chill filtered, naturally coloured, single cask and single malt.

Tour

We were kindly invited to tour the Cooper King distillery by Ellie from MacComms. Tours are available every Saturday for £10 and take approximately 1hr 15mins. You can book a tour from their website.

The Cooper King distillery is situated about 10 miles outside of York in the beautiful countryside of Sutton-On-The-Forest. We were lucky to be having the tour on the last day of summer and enjoyed a tipple from the bar in their outdoor seating area, over-looking the orchard. Co-founder Chris was our guide for the day, and his enthusiasm was contagious. He had a story behind every piece of equipment and told us the meaning behind every step of their process. They are truly a small-batch, eco-friendly craft distillery.

We were taken through the bar into the distillery. One corner is dedicated to gin production, which is where Abbie’s science background shines through, with glass vials and laboratory equipment on every bench top. They use cold-vacuum distillation, which requires less energy and reduced water consumption compared to traditional methods.

Gin Production at Cooper King Distillery

The centre-piece of the room is the 900 litre Tasmanian copper pot still – the only one of its kind in Europe. Whisky production started just this month and they are carrying out mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation all under one roof.

Whisky Production at Cooper King Distillery
(photo credit: MacComms)

What is refreshing about this distillery compared to others is Chris’s laid back attitude and approach to craft spirits. They are enjoying the process, sourcing the best local ingredients and working with local business. They place a heavy focus on the quality and sustainability of their products as oppose to the quantity they are pumping out. They have no solid date for when their whisky will be bottled, as Chris said “we won’t release it until it’s ready”.

Tasting 

At the end of the tour we got to sit out in the sunshine and sample a few of their products, along with some treats from a local bakery.

Dry Gin

This was their inaugural product.
42% ABV with notes of cardamon, honey, lemongrass and lavender.

Herb Gin

40% ABV with fresh and dried basil, lemongrass, cloves and fennel.

Skosh Smoked and Spiced

My personal favourite! This is a limited edition bottling in partnership with the Michelin award winning restaurant in York, available only from the distillery or the restaurant.
41% ABV with notes of black cardamon, nori and mandarin.

New Make

Now sold-out bottling from the very first spirit run.

47% ABV with a surprisingly silky mouthfeel, almost like a tequila. Slightly malty, with notes of lemon, powdery black pepper, toffee and sourdough bread. If this is anything to go by, then I am extremely excited about their whisky.

You can support Cooper King Distillery by signing up for one of their Founders Club packages here.

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