A LITTLE-known fledgling gin distilling company, tucked away in Gargrave, has been awarded a gold medal in the International Tasting Awards held in the USA.

LuJo Distilling Company, based in Asquith Industrial Estate, is the creation of business partners Gary Coates and Jason Adlam.

Gary, an alumni of Ermysted’s Grammar School, is the master distiller and his first gin to be offered to the public in 2019 is the award winning J.P.Adlam No.8, so named after Jason.

Gary currently works full time in the construction industry as a technical director and manages to distil his award winning gin at nights and weekends, but hopes to make a move to doing ‘more gin, less construction’ in the future.

LuJo Distilling Company, named after Gary’s two children, Lucy and Joseph, now offers three regular gin to market. No.8 is a traditional London dry gin. He also distils a blackberry, raspberry and grape gin and a colour changing gin which is based on their No.8.

All gins are small batch distilled in Gargrave, and are hand bottled, labelled and wax sealed at the distillery.

The transition from construction industry to master gin maker was a matter of trial and error and not without a surprise legal problem.

Gary started off in the Royal Navy but left in 1994. After working at the Station Inn, at Ribblehead, for a year with his parents he went into the construction industry for 23 years. At Harris Construction Management, Jason was his boss. When Gary said he was thinking of leaving, Jason persuaded him to say on with a view to the two of them setting up something together, building it up slowly, and reducing Gary’s time in construction.

The deal was done and they decided on a distillery.

“I went off to Scotland to learn about distilling, in the home of distilleries. Once I came back we started working on very small batches and I began working on the, now award-winning - No.8 Recipe. The previous seven had gone down the drain.

“Once I was happy with the recipe I had to get the balance correct and so utilised a gin connoisseur in London, he worked with me to develop what we now have, and what won the gold award in USA.

“Setting up a distillery wasn’t without its problems. Finding property, getting licences from HMRC, designing labels, bottle selection, all this was done by Jason and I while holding down full time jobs. At the time I was in London two days per week which didn’t help.

“Eventually we had a licence by August last year and were ready to launch our gin under it’s original name when we were taken to court because our name was too much like a large national brewery.

“So at a cost of £6,000 we had to start again on the name, website, and labels. All 3,000 went in the bin.

“We finally received our new labels on December 19 so we had missed Christmas 2018, but were ready for the launch in January 2019, when unfortunately my mum passed away unexpectedly.

“I eventually got back to the distillery in February and started to get out to see customers and start selling our product.

“The unique selling point for the No.8 gin is that it has been carefully designed to give totally different flavour profiles with different tonics, so with Indian tonic you will get the peppery notes and possibly the star anise, with Mediterranean tonic the oranges and lemons burst through to give you a refreshing fruit gin, and with elderflower tonic you get the relaxing fragrance of the lavender come to the fore, a truly flexible gin worthy of being in everyone’s spirits cupboard.

“I am overwhelmed with the gold award at the SIP Award International Tasting. This really does confirm that we have a great product and that all the hard work is beginning to pay off,” said Gary.

Gary has highlighted how gin is made.

“At the distillery we do everything by hand, making gin is not an easy process, and we have shed a few tears along the way.

“We are currently working with a client to develop their own brand of rum/vodka/gin and hope to be launching that in the next two months.

“In the first instance you have to make a wash, which is essentially a beer at eight to 10 per cent ABV . This is then distilled to give alcohol at 96 per cent. We then cut the alcohol to 50 per cent and add our botanicals. We use juniper, coriander, orange, lemon, cubeb, grains of paradise, star anise and lavender. We then run the still and collect the vapour which is condensed, and cut with pure filtered Yorkshire water to 41.5 per cent to give us our gin.”

“For the fruit flavour blackberry, raspberry and grape we steep our gin in the fruits, then filter and bottle the gin.

“For our blue colour changing gin we infuse with a blue pea flower, this changes colour when you add tonic. But the base for all our gin at the moment is our award winning no.8 gin.

“Aswell as making our own gin we provide a bespoke gin service for clients, where we design, bottle and labels their own gin, and are hoping to work with some local companies in the near future.

“We also offer gin tasting sessions where we can come to your home, workplace, or local pub and teach you all about gin. There is always plenty of gin on these nights”.

People can also go to the distillery to learn how to make their own also on a 1-1 or 1-2 basis.

The gold medal they won celebrates spirits that demonstrated a noteworthy performance in a double blind tasting with a diverse consumer panel. With scores in the upper division, Gold medal spirits are strongly recommended, and receiving this award marks an awesome achievement for LuJo Distilling Company so soon after they set up the business.

Gary and Jason will be featured on the BBC later in June or July on a programme called “The day that changed my life” giving an insight into why Jason and Gary set up the distillery when they pitch for a fantastic opportunity with a national supplier. You can buy your gin or find out more at www.jpadlamgin.co.uk

The men are due to deliver speeches at Sheffield Gin Festival at the end of June.

They are co-hosting a gin festival at the Ghyll Golf Club on July 5. Tickets are available through facebook @J.P.Adlam and hosting a gin tasting tent at Yorkshire Dales Food & Drink Festival, Carleton, on July 20 and 21.