The York Gin Story

York Gin's History

The idea for York Gin was born in The Swan, one of York's best known independent pubs. A group of friends and the landlord decided that the city's gins would:

  • capture York's and gin's incredible histories
  • be of the highest possible standard
  • be as kind to the planet as possible
'History in the Tasting' became York Gin's motto.

The first bottles of York Gin London Dry appeared in 2018 and our gins have become synomymous with the very highest quality.

York Gin's sustainable policies include using 100% green energy, being plastic free and avoiding any landfill waste. In 2022, York Gin won Environmental Hero at the York Mix Hero Awards and Socially Responsible Business at the York Press Business Awards.

Excellence & Kindness

York Gin's guiding principles - Excellence and Kindness - mean that we:

  • create some of the very best gins around
  • treat the planet, our people, customers and partners with the utmost care and respect

Landmarks include:

  • winning multiple gold medals at the world’s biggest spirits competitions
  • York Gin London Dry named Good Housekeeping's Best Gin of 2023 and 2024 is a particular recent highlight
  • being described by experts as making some of the world's best gin
  • opening a beautitful award-winning shop in one of York's most iconic Tudor buildings
  • regularly appearing on TV, radio and in the national and international press
  • raised and donated thousands of pounds to local charities

The York Gin brand

York is famous for its ancient walls (dating to the Romans), its castle (the 13th Century Clifford’s Tower) and its ‘bars’ (the four gates into and out of the city). The castle and walls are symbols of York’s incredible history – a history that amazingly remains intact.

The cat is one of York’s symbols - visitors can follow a 'Cat Trail' of statues attached to many city centre buildings. And the cat is synonymous with gin – surviving gin bottles from the 19th Century have drawings of cats on them. And a type of gin is called Old Tom.

So the logo is a homage to both York’s and gin’s history.

The York Gin cat is inspired by a cat that appeared in a 17th Century woodcut of the Bottesford Witches, with their familiar, a cat named 'Rutterkin' meaning 'a swaggering gallant'. Little Rutterkin sits proudly on the city walls on every York Gin bottle.

Meanwhile, the distinctive font we use on our bottles is a revival of 17th Century 'Fell Fonts' - widely used in print at the time of the 18th Century 'Gin Craze'.

History in the Tasting

York was almost certainly home to many illegal distilleries over the centuries. So-called Bathtub Gin will have been made in the city - as it was in many other cities – in private, unlicensed houses since the 18th Century. York Gin’s claim is therefore to be the city’s first legal distillery. The inspiration for our gins comes from York’s two millennia and gin’s three centuries of history. Thus our motto, 'History in the Tasting'.

Some of our inspiration comes from:

  • The Romans, who settled in the city 2,000 years ago
  • York’s outlaws, including highwayman Dick Turpin, ‘Yorkshire Witch’ Mary Bateman (both executed in York), and the city’s most famous son, Gunpowder Plotter, Guy Fawkes, old boy of St Peter’s School
  • York’s chocolate history – specifically, the Terry’s Chocolate Orange, invented in York in 1932 and made in the city for decades
  • Yorkshire's famous forced rhubarb - its delicate stems picked by candlelight to retain the flavour

Sign up to Newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers.