WHY YORKSHIRE?

As the author of a book about Scottish gin, it feels like I need to explain how I came to write this book, YORKSHIRE’S GINS.

It’s three reasons really. First my mother’s family are from Yorkshire; my publisher is a Yorkshire company and thirdly I lived half my childhood in Yorkshire. 

So, family-wise I have Yorkshire cousins; very fond memories of visits to my grandparents and then all the “growing up” of my Yorkshire teens.

The publisher Great Northern Books (www.gnbooks.co.uk) already has a Yorkshire beer book (the Yorkshire Beer Bible) so they were keen to add gin alongside it. And they published The GIN CLAN, my Scottish gin book last year. So it was my destiny.

But, if truth be known, with the internet and a few site visits I could have written about any part of the UK – or beyond. However, Yorkshire is actually the only place I could have tackled next. With all its great food, beers and hospitality, Yorkshire is inevitably a place people were going to make great gin. And sixty gins – all profiled in the book – are proof I was right to focus on the county. 

A gin journey

As a personal journey to new places, favourite haunts and almost forgotten memories, it has been a privilege to write YORKSHIRE’S GINS. I had great fun talking to my mother about her childhood in Bramhope before she went off to be a Wren in the Second World War (arriving in Shetland aged just 18). We reminisced about the times we stayed with her parents in Bramhope and later Ilkley – often for weeks at a time as we waited for an RAF quarter to be ready for us to move into, or as I was going back to school in Harrogate.

And we talked about when we lived in a new-build house, high up the moor on the edge of Rishworth when my father “retired” to be the bursar at the school there. And then all the visits to Yorkshire we had made after we moved to Scotland and our dear friends and family mostly in the Dales. At the same time, she enjoyed reports of my journeys and encounters with Yorkshire’s gin makers as I ventured south from Edinburgh to research the book. She was proofreading chapters two weeks before she died in December 2019, aged 96. She had seen the cover and would have been thrilled I’d completed the words (only a couple of weeks late) but, boy, would she have been cross that coronavirus had spoilt the launch in March.

So, I think, Yorkshire was the perfect next stop in my gin journey. It may have been the colliding of circumstances that made it my next destination, but Yorkshire has been a star. Throughout the county, gin makers have used the natural resources and their personal resourcefulness to create some magical gins. I’ve had such fun meeting them – and we did it by phone, email and in person – and learning their stories. I do hope you enjoy reading about them and if you have not sampled their gin doing so at the first opportunity. 

Want to taste Yorkshire gin?

Check out the makers’ websites (all the book’s entries list them). Many have online shops and are using post and couriers; some are delivering locally personally; bottle shops also stock neighbours’ gins and often deliver locally and there are online retailers – like Master of Malt – in business too. 

Cheers, Fiona

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