Hooting Owl Distillery, producer of award-winning Yorkshire gin, has submitted planning permission to City of York Council to move its operations within the City Walls.
The site set to become the distillery’s new home is a long-vacant venue on Rougier Street, the former Society Lounge and Bar, which closed during lockdown in 2020.
The proposed location, which will be named ‘The Hooting Owl & Curious Cat Distillery’, will be developed to allow for expansion and to offer visitors “an immersive experience” with a large distillation area, event space and a speakeasy gin lounge, where discerning York spirit lovers will be able to sample the in-house range of craft gin, rum and vodka.
The Hooting Owl & Curious Cat Distillery will become the only artisan distillery within the York City Walls.
The distillery, which has won several awards for its artisan spirits, aims to become a destination for gin enthusiasts and tourists alike, putting York firmly on the British gin drinker’s map by offering daily distillery tours, weekly gin tasting events and catering for private parties, corporate hospitality and business networking groups.
The new operation, which will open daily from 9am to 11pm, would aim to boost visitor numbers, create seven full-time and ten part-time jobs in the city, and feature an upstairs event space holding 60.
If planning permission is granted, the business expects to open The Hooting Owl & Curious Cat Distillery in early 2024, when it will relocate from its current base in Barmby Moor, near Pocklington.
Hooting Owl Distillery, best known for its range of premium North, East, South and West Yorkshire Gin, was founded in 2018 by Craft Distiller and former soldier, Dominic M’Benga – who incorporates botanicals in his spirits that represent The Royal Yorkshire Regiment and donates a proportion of the company’s profits to veteran causes.
Dominic said of the proposed move:
“This is an exciting time for Hooting Owl as we grow and expand. We do intend to stay true to our roots, producing high-quality, small batch spirits, but the new plans will see us join forces with some of our friends in the industry, including The Curious Cat and the Tipsy Toad, which will also be distilled at the new premises.”
Dominic continued: “This is a strategic move for Hooting Owl, York is known for its rich history and thriving food and drink scene. We’re hopeful that the plans will be approved because we’d love to bring our small batch, artisan spirits into the city, not only to expand our Yorkshire business but to attract visitors and generate new jobs.”‘
New external signage has been submitted in the planning proposal which will display the venue’s name, incorporating Hooting Owl and Manchester-based Curious Cat Distillery, a major shareholder in the proposed venture.
Hooting Owl currently sells its artisan spirits through local independent shops, retailers and pubs and also directly to the public via its website www.hootingowldistillery.co.uk