When York Gin decided to make an Old Tom gin, they soon realised they needed help from someone with a superb kitchen – and ideally some cats.
The York Gin logo includes a proud cat, so it was an obvious step to make a classic Old Tom – a gin that’s been associated with cats since Victorian times. Old Tom is slightly sweeter than London Dry and is made by adding a flavoured sugar syrup. And the York Gin team were struggling to create an authentic Yorkshire gin recipe to fit the bill.
Emma Godivala, one of York Gin’s owners, wondered out loud if one of her – and Yorkshire’s – favourite chefs, Andrew Pern might help. (Andrew is Chef-Patron, of the Michelin-starred Star Inn, Harome and co-owner of York’s Star Inn The City and Mr P’s Curious Tavern, and Whitby’s Star Inn The Harbour).
And not only did Andrew say yes, but he and his talented team also spent countless hours creating, honing and perfecting an incredible syrup that bursts with flavours from Yorkshire’s hedgerows and The Star Inn’s kitchen garden in Harome. Andrew’s son also owns a cat called Goose (pictured) – who looks like the cat that got the cream as he relaxes with a bottle of Old Tom in the arms of the Michelin-starred chef.
Andrew Pern said: “It’s been great fun researching and of course tasting the Old Tom gin. Concocting the recipe for the syrup using God’s own ingredients seemed to be a match made in heaven. The homegrown herbs and white roses from the surrounding hedgerows couldn’t be a better match to fly the flag for the county locally and of course around the world too.”
The sugar syrup’s main ingredient, after the sugar, is the White Alba Rose. Native to Yorkshire hedgerows and famous for being the rose on the Yorkshire flag, foragers call this white flower the Dog Rose (with apologies to the Old Toms out there).
Andrew completed the Yorkshire sugar syrup with other ingredients from hedgerows and his kitchen garden, including Bronze Fennel and Star Anise.
The Victorians used Liquorice and locally-growing plants in their Old Toms. Bronze Fennel and Angelica are from The Star Inn’s kitchen garden in North Yorkshire. This holds a not dissimilar flavour profile close to Liquorice famously grown from the 18th Century onwards in Pontefract, South Yorkshire. So York Gin & The Star Inn, Harome are firmly following the Old Tom tradition.
The final result is an Old Tom full of Yorkshire character – juniper and pepper are complemented by the flavours of the county’s hedgerows.
York Gin’s Emma Godivala said: “We’re so happy to have worked with one of our local heroes to create an authentic Old Tom gin that really reflects York’s heritage.”
Fellow York Gin director, Pete McNichol added: “We hope York’s gin lovers and cat lovers will come and try our Old Tom in York next week – at Mr P’s, The Star Inn The City, or at the York Gin shop on Pavement from June 8th. It happens to be World Gin Day!”
York Gin Old Tom is launching on World Gin Day at the UK’s premier gathering of gin distillers at Tobacco Dock in London. (And will be available in York from then too.)
So, if you’re in York – Head along to Mr P’s on Wednesday 5th June for a sneak peek during an evening of gin and jazz (as part of Mr P’s Curious Yorkshire Gin Festival) details here:
York Gin Old Tom will also be available at Pub in the Park, Knutsford from 8th June, hosted by another (not-so-old) Tom (Kerridge) – the two-starred Michelin chef. And of course at all Andrew Pern’s restaurants: The Star Inn at Harome, The Star Inn the City in York, Mr P’s Curious Tavern and in Whitby, at The Star Inn the Harbour.