OTLEY now has its very own gin distillery.

White House Gin is up and running at Wharfebank Mills where it is producing a Classic London Dry made with 13 botanicals.

The venture, a first for the town, is the brainchild of Nick Jocelyn and his partner Nicola who have worked hard to make it as ‘Otley-focused’ as possible.

The couple’s interest in gin was sparked a decade ago and grew, as they learned more, from a hobby into a desire to produce their very own brand.

Mr Jocelyn said: “The more I learned about gin the more I realised that making my own truly hand-crafted, small batch gin was something achievable.

“Nicola and I had many discussions about the investment required and the risks involved in setting up a distillery. She was initially reluctant but agreed that if I found out everything that would be involved in setting up production, including the official HMRC requirements, as well as how to come up with a good enough recipe I could go for it.

“The other significant detail we agreed on was our location - we wanted our gin to be produced in Otley. However we didn’t consider how difficult this would be.

“We discovered that Otley doesn’t have much in the way of industrial premises: there are office spaces however we didn’t want to pay office prices and we also needed considerable height for the still column.”

They eventually found a suitable base at the riverside site of Wharfebank Mills, off Ilkley Road, where they set about transforming an old store room. They decided to call it the White House Distillery because they can see the famous White House on Otley Chevin from their home.

They also enlisted the services of craft distilling expert Jamie Baxter, as a consultant, to help refine its recipe.

Mr Jocelyn, who plans to develop new gin recipes - and also a dark rum and a spiced rum - next year, is now excited to see what the future brings. He said: “To be able to create something for Otley wasn’t difficult, I’ve had so much support from many of the local businesses it’s been quite overwhelming.

“We have become the second generation of gin producers in our family, that we know of, and I’m hoping that in the future I could become an employer and perhaps teach the next generation of distillers.

“It may be too early to talk of expansion, but if I could move into a bigger premises eventually or take on another premises then a visitor attraction for Otley with a shop/café and Gin School would be fantastic.

“There’s nowt else we need to say, except - come on in!”

Otley Town Council Chair Councillor Richard Hughes (Lib Dem, West Chevin) said: “I am personally delighted to see a new firm starting up in Otley. It is another boost to the local economy. Otley is a great place to do business and the town council is working to make it an even more attractive location for residents and entrepreneurs.”

White House Gin can be bought from Chez Vin in Otley and from local farm shops and pubs. Contact details for the distillery are available from the business’s under-construction website at http://www.whitehousegin.com/.

Nick will also be appearing at a Meet The Distiller evening at the Old Cock on the evening of Monday, November 25.