Foodie focus on… Yorkshire

You’ll often hear people hailing from England’s largest county, Yorkshire, in the north of the country, using the phrase ‘God’s own county’ to describe their home region and, given the sheer diversity and quality of the local produce, the award-winning restaurants, gastropubs and chef innovation found there, you’ll begin to understand why. Here are just a few of the reasons why foodies should put Yorkshire on their destination wish-lists.

 

Regional specialities and where to taste them

YORKSHIRE PUDDING: a pudding made of eggs, flour and milk and usually served with roast meat and gravy, although it can also be served with jam, syrup or custard as a dessert. The first recorded recipe for the accompanying Yorkshire pudding was in 1737 when it was called ‘A Dripping Pudding’, the dripping coming from spit-roast meat.

Where can I eat it? Pretty much with every Sunday roast dinner served the length and breadth of Britain (such is its popularity) but when in Yorkshire, why not go large? The Crooked Billet in Saxton, north Yorkshire, boasts a dedicated Yorkshire pudding menu! Yes, that’s three courses, each with its own take on the Yorkshire pudding. Award-winning pub The Strines Inn in Bradfield, half an hour’s drive from Sheffield also serves Yorkshire puddings of gigantic proportions.

 

WENSLEYDALE CHEESE: mild, clean, and slightly sweet, Wensleydale cheese has a subtle flavour, said to have notes of wild honey and a moist but crumbly texture. The Wensleydale Creamery is the only manufacturer of authentic Yorkshire Wensleydale.

Where can I eat it? You’ll find it across cheeseboards in Yorkshire (and beyond) but go straight to the source – the Calvert Restaurant at the Wensleydale Creamery has the Ultimate Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese Experience; three courses all using their finest ingredient. Go along to explore the visitor centre, museum, shop and attend demonstrations and tastings.

 

PONTEFRACT CAKE: Not, in fact, cake, but liquorice! The Yorkshire city of Pontefract was the furthest north liquorice was ever grown to produce liquorice sweets and is recognised by its stamp of Pontefract Castle.

Where can I eat it? Buy it throughout Yorkshire; for a fun shopping experience, pick some up at the Oldest Sweet Shop in England in Pateley Bridge, near Harrogate in north Yorkshire, housed in a building dating back to 1661. You’ll also be tempted by the other sweets laid out in row upon row of traditional sweet jars – this has been a family run shop since 1827.

 

FAT RASCAL: similar to a scone or rock cake, Fat Rascals are plump and fruity and based on old regional speciality, turf cake.

Where can I eat it? This fruity bake is one of Betty’s Café Tea Rooms best-known and best-selling products, thanks to the personal touches the company made to the original recipe…so where better to eat one than there! There are six Betty’s establishments across Yorkshire – in Harrogate, York, Ilkley and Northallerton – and you can choose from the tea rooms’ original take on it, decorated with glacé cherries and almonds, or a smaller chocolate and orange variation. All are made by hand to exact Betty’s Fat Rascal specifications.

 

PARKIN: a gingerbread cake made with oatmeal and treacle that’s been eaten in Yorkshire since the early 18th century.  

Where can I eat it? Bakeries and cafés are the place to find parkin; try Lottie Shaw’s Bakery in Brighouse (less than half an hour from Leeds) – all parkin is hand-crafted on site and based on traditional family recipes past down to Lottie by her great grandmother.

 

FORCED RHUBARB: Yorkshire is home to the Rhubarb Triangle, a nine-square mile area between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell in the west of the county, renowned for producing early forced rhubarb. The season for forced rhubarb is roughly from January to mid-March.

Where can I eat it? Celebrate this regional speciality in style at the annual Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb! The next one takes place 22-24 February 2019 and you’ll find everything from rhubarb gifts, rhubarb-themed dishes and rhubarb trails. Wakefield is around 30 minutes from Leeds.

 

5 must-do food and drink experiences

Michelin-style cooking: The Cookery School, Swinton Park is perched on the edge of the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park, surrounded by a 17th-century castle and parkland, and it’s here you can learn to create a traditional afternoon tea, take a beginners' baking class or spend a weekend cooking modern British cuisine with chef Kevin Hughes. You’ll use the seasonal ingredients from the hotel’s walled garden as well as venison, rabbit, game and trout from the wider Estate. Housed in the converted Georgian stable wing of four-star Swinton Park hotel, the school offers a range of hands-on two-day, one day and half-day cookery classes for adults, teenagers and children, aged six to nine.

Wine: While many vineyards are based in the south and east of England (the soil and climate make ideal vine-growing conditions), England’s most northerly vineyard is found in Yorkshire. The Ryedale Vineyard is located just a half-hour drive from the ancient city of York and offers bed and breakfast accommodation in its Grade II-listed farmhouse, which dates back to around 1630. The vineyard holds tours as well as pizza and wine evenings, where the pizza is cooked on its outdoor clay oven.

Whisky: Whisky? From Yorkshire? That’s correct – the Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery in Hunmanby, north of the county, is creating Yorkshire’s first single malt whisky. All the barley and spring water used is grown and sourced on its family farm, and the whole process is overseen by respected whisky expert Dr Jim Swan. Join in the Distilling Experience, where you’ll get the lowdown on its ethos and process, as well as the chance to try some of its maturing Malt.

Artisan food: The town of Malton, half an hour’s drive from York, has been described as Yorkshire’s Food Capital – and it certainly lives up to that title thanks to its vast range of incredible local produce and restaurants; in fact, there’s a ‘Made in Malton’ brand, a group of artisan food and drink producers in the town. Many of these can be visited and the Malton Cookery School offers walking ‘artisan produce’ tours, taking in bakeries, breweries, pie shops and coffee roasteries. One new tour earmarked to launch later this year (9 November) is the ‘Malton Food Tour – Gin O’Clock, designed for people ‘with a sweet tooth who love their gin’. You’ll sample six different gins, a selection of Made in Malton producers and tour Malton’s new Gin Distillery.

Afternoon tea: Not just one afternoon tea to linger over (although you can book this option too), but a whole tour of them! Tours in a Dish take you on a 3.5-hour guided tour of York, to the best places for tea, to take part in a tea and cheese pairing workshop, and to visit three unique venues and two top tea retailers and importers.

 

Hot restaurants you have to visit

The Pipe and Glass Inn, Beverley

Set in a former coaching inn in the beautiful surroundings of the Dalton Estate, this elegant inn has retained its Michelin star (and other major foodie awards) for the last eight years. Owners James and Kate Mackenzie play a huge part in that, with James in the kitchen, Kate in front of house and the gorgeous gardens at the back (which grow produce for its menus) only add to the relaxed ambience. Food-wise, expect enticing meals such as barbequed rump of Yorkshire lamb with barley, beer and broad bean risotto and sweet treats such as ginger burnt cream, poached garden rhubarb and East Yorkshire sugar cakes.

The Black Swan, Oldstead

It may be situated in a small village 45 minutes’ drive from York, but it’s this restaurant with rooms TripAdvisor users voted as the world’s best in 2017. A well-deserved accolade thanks to its Michelin star and its one creative menu – the Tasting Menu – that’s been inspired by local ingredients the restaurant either forages for or grows itself; think langoustine with salted strawberry or raw deer with wild garlic. The Black Swan is also making a name for itself with its experimental drinks menu; its ‘Oldstead cocktails’ menu comprises beautifully named concoctions such as Rubus Fruiticolitan and Forced Fizz (made with rhubarb schnapps).

Rafters, Sheffield

This Michelin-listed/2 AA Rosettes eaterie offers three alternative menus; a classic menu, offering three courses, its Experience One – the Classic menu but enhanced further – and Experience Two, its unique tasting menu (with vegetarian options for each). For the latter, a sample menu may include BBQ line-caught mackerel, Cornish turbot or fresh curd agnolotti, all served in a stylish and comfortable city restaurant.

Skosh, York

Recently opened, Skosh is a cosy, casual, small plates restaurant that’s fast making a name for itself in the historic city, thanks to the creativity of chef Neil Bentinck, who’s worked at several Yorkshire’s best restaurants and brings the influences of his Asia travels to his dishes. You can watch the innovation at play – described as ‘British cooking with an international influence’ – with a seat overlooking the open kitchen. Try small plates of cod’s roe eclairs or crispy guinea hen wontons or larger plates such as whole roast Norfolk quail with spiced lentils.

Magpie Café, Whitby

Whitby in north Yorkshire has some of the best fish and chips in Britain – light, crispy and served piping hot from the deep fat fryer. The Magpie Café, close to the harbour in Whitby, a 90-minute drive from the city of York, is known throughout Yorkshire for its tasty fish and chips and seafood chowder; the long queues outside is testament to its popularity. Monster-size haddock comes from its own fishmongers, which also supplies fish to the locals of Whitby.

Yorke Arms, Nidderdale

Surrounded by the tranquil rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, the Yorke Arms is a former 18th-century coaching inn that has been carefully converted into a Michelin-starred restaurant, with a clutch of sumptuously comfortable bedrooms. Co-owned and run by Michelin-starred chef Frances Atkins, the restaurant serves up the best of Yorkshire produce, from Whitby crab to Wensleydale soufflé and local beef. The whole building has recently reopened following refurbishment, with its accompanying bedrooms and suites due to reopen this summer.

Matt Healy x The Foundry, Leeds

This Leeds institution has recently been relaunched, with Yorkshire-born chef, Matt Healy (runner-up in BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals series) at the helm, with the interiors and exteriors redesigned and rebranded as Matt Healy x The Foundry. He’s concentrating on a menu of simple British dishes that may only have up to five ingredients; a sample menu may include baby chicken ‘kiev’, wild garlic and duck fat potato or pollock, charred leeks and potatoes with Romesco sauce. It’s fast becoming one of the hottest restaurants in Leeds.

The Angel Inn, Hetton

A country pub and restaurant with rooms that’s won just about every regional and national foodie award going, the Angel Inn also has the fortune of being surrounded by acres of countryside in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, around a 45-minute drive from Harrogate. The food is a quirky blend of “modern British with French Yorkshire nuances”, which translates local ingredients into delightful morsels like courgette and beetroot meringue pie and its famous feuille de brick parcel of fish on lobster sauce.

 

Yorkshire’s Insta-worthy food

The YorkyPud™: Created by the York Roast Co, which has two locations in historic York, this is a contemporary twist on a Yorkshire classic.

Bundobust: Delicious Indian street food and craft beers make this one of Leeds’ go-to places for easy, tasty cuisine.

The Man Behind The Curtain: This Leeds-based restaurant is a culinary eye-opener; its Permanent collection is served as a set tasting menu of between 10 and 14 courses – presenting plenty of Instagram opportunities.

York Chocolate Story: Unwrap the history of the families who made Yorkshire one of the greatest exporters of chocolate, and then enjoy its very pretty and delicious Chocolate Afternoon Tea.

 

A 48-hour foodie itinerary

The whole of Yorkshire is filled with incredible food destinations – here are suggestions for just one area, between the two National Parks in the county; starting in Whitby in the North York Moors National Park, heading via York, and ending at the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

 

Day One

09:00 Make breakfast a vintage one! You start your itinerary in the coastal town of Whitby and enjoy breakfast treats in the lovely courtyard or the quirkily decorated rooms of Rusty Shears Vintage Tea Shop.

10:00 Learn to cook the Yorkshire way…with fresh, seasonal and local produce at the Arches Cookery School, just half an hour’s drive from Whitby. Chef and teacher Sarah Muir (who’s catered for rock royalty in the past) can guide you through a range of courses, from Whitby Fish to Farm to Fork, celebrating all the fantastic meat and produce from local farmers.

13:00 Take a scenic drive for under an hour through the centre of the North York Moors National Park to the Michelin starred/2 AA Rosette restaurant The Star Inn at Harome. This award-winning gastropub with rooms – charmingly set within a 14th-century thatched inn – sources seasonally from the moors and the nearby sea for its creative menu described as ‘modern Yorkshire style’. Depending on the season, that might include John Dory or lobster with squid ink cracker.

15:00 Make like a local chef and forage the wonderful wild greens, herbs and berries that grow in abundance in Yorkshire. Taste the Wild offers a huge range of foraging courses, as well as ones such as Cooking with Fire and Cider Making. These are mainly full-day courses, so you may want to stay on an extra day to experience one.

17:00 As you head into the historic city of York, stock up on some wonderful Yorkshire foodie souvenirs to take home with you. Henshelwoods Delicatessen is packed with tasty treats ranging from Yorkshire parkin and homemade preserves to more than 70 cheeses.

19:30 Stop by The Rattle Owl for dinner – not only will you find innovative dishes such as east coast crab with tomato consommé or roast pigeon with wild mushroom, barley, pancetta and blackberry but you’ll be dining within a Grade II-listed, 17th-century building. The restaurant also has the Owlet Food & Wine, a microshop stocking organic wine and local beers.

 

Day Two

09:00 Head to a café that’s all about using local and seasonal ingredients – and one that’s featured in The Guardian’s ‘50 Best Breakfasts in the UK’ and Buzzfeed’s ‘21 things you must eat in York’. You’ll find a lot to love about The Pig & Pastry’s breakfast sandwiches; bacon or sausage, Shroomalloumi – that’s halloumi and mushrooms – and a breakfast burger of dry cured bacon, fried egg, avocado, cheddar, smoky mayo and relish.

11:30 Less than an hour from York is the elegant spa town of Harrogate – but it’s not just natural spring waters it’s famed for, its foodie scene is also worth exploring. The three-hour Yorkshire Appetite food tour takes you to explore some of the best eateries in town and taste locally sourced produce, as well as teach you a thing or two about Harrogate’s rich history.

14:30 After a substantial feast on the food tour, set off for a pleasant stroll in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the edge of which is less than half an hour from Harrogate. Alternatively, travel an hour from the town and stop off for a creamy, indulgent ice cream from Brymor Dairy Ice Cream Parlour, made from the whole milk sourced from the farm’s herd of Guernsey cows. The only difficult choice you’ll have to make is which of its 25 flavours to have.

16:00 Ten minutes from your ice cream destination is another fabulous local produce to try; beer and ale from the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham. A family run brewery, you can take a tour of its traditional brewhouse before heading to the bar to try out a few of its award-winning beers, such as its cult classic cask ale, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, and its strong dark Yorkshire ale Riggwelter.

20:00 While you’re in the Yorkshire Dales take the opportunity to dine at Britain’s highest public house – the Tan Hill Inn. At 1,732 feet (528m) above sea level, this historic 17th-century pub is all exposed beams, stone-flagged floors, a roaring fire in the cooler months and a menu of satisfying pub favourites including Whitby scampi and chips or Yorkshire pudding topped with local Swaledale sausages, all which can be washed down with beers from local breweries. You can also stay overnight in its en-suite rooms and camp site.

 

Food festivals in Yorkshire 2018/2019

2018b

21-22 July: Yorkshire Dales Food & Drink Festival

8 September: Malton Harvest Food Festival

21-30 September: York Food Festival

29-30 September: Holmfirth Food Festival

 

2019 (dates TBC)

23-25 February: Festival of Food, Drink & Rhubarb

April: York Chocolate Festival

May: Malton Food Lovers Festival

May: Great British Food Festival @ Harewood House

June: Dales Festival of Food and Drink

June: Yorkshire Vegan Festival

July: Pontefract Liquorice Festival

 

Getting there

Fly into Yorkshire’s Leeds Bradford international airport or easily travel to its cities and towns from the rest of the UK via train. Leeds is just over two hours from London, around an hour from Manchester; York is just under two hours from London, 1.5 hours from Manchester; Sheffield is almost 2.5 hours from London, less than one hour from Manchester.

10 of the best brewery experiences across North England

Britain loves its beer and ales and, to celebrate International Craft Beer Day on 3 August, we highlight just a few of the brewery tours and events that stretch from the north-west coast of England to the north-east coast, all in locations within easy 1.5-hour train or taxi access of each other. Cheers!

START

Liverpool

The Mad Hatter Brewing Company was set up just five years ago and, as of this year, is one of the small number of breweries run by a woman. The brewery is all producing creative ideas, which have included its signature beer the Penny Lane Pale, a low ABV craft beer with a tropical fruit aroma and a biscuit malt base – named after the street where the first bottle shop stocked them – and the Tzatziki Sour, made using Greek yoghurt to sour and then added mint and cucumber. There aren’t tours available at this small micro-craft brewery, but it does hold festivals, where they pair the beers with food, have live music playing, a kids’ corner on offer in the day session and a fire show in the evening one! The next festival will be held on 25 August, although check its website for further events.

 

ONE HOUR’S TRAIN JOURNEY FROM LIVERPOOL WILL TAKE YOU TO…

Manchester

Runaway Brewery brews its ‘modern-tasting, recognisably British’ beers by hand in small batches at its microbrewery. Head there for its core range of Pale Ales, IPA, Smoked Porter and American Brown Ales and there’s always seasonal ales to try out. As well as brewery tours that take place every Saturday – a fascinating trail through the working brewery, plus a tasting of four beers – you can continue to drink fresh beer from the source in its Tap Room until 8pm. Before you go, check out the brewery’s plans for its monthly pop-up dining rooms, where it teams its beers with local food producers

 

IT’S ONLY 15 MINUTES BY TRAIN FROM MANCHESTER TO…

Stockport, Lancashire

One of the oldest independent brewers in Britain, Robinsons, is located in the heart of Stockport and has been brewing there for nearly two centuries. Real ale is its pièce de résistance and its hour-long brewery tour takes you through Robinsons’ history, the science behind the brewing process and offers tutored tastings of three 1/3-pint samples of its beers. Upgrade to its ‘golden ticket’ and you also receive a gift set and twice as much beer at its Unicorn Bar.

 

BOOK A CAR TO TAKE YOU TO…

Burnley, Lancashire

Once a month, Moorhouse Brewery opens the doors for 45-minute guided tours, four samples of its beers and a pie-and-pea supper, in true Northern style! It’s recently launched a series of new hop-forward keg beers, plus an innovative botanical range and a new look for its cask beers. Its M1 Small Batch Brewery, nestled in the main brewhouse, also allows the brewers to brew in small batches, where they can develop unique recipes, so are well worth following. The tours for 2018 run on 28 September, 19 October and 30 November.

 

JUMP ON A TRAIN FROM THERE TO…

Leeds, Yorkshire

Why visit one brewery when you can visit four in the cool city of Leeds on the Leeds Brewery Tour! Once a month (25 August, 22 September, 20 October and 24 November in 2018), you can begin an afternoon at the North Brewing Co’s taproom, which boasts five core beers and one-off creations in its repertoire, followed by drinks at Indian street food venue Bundobust. Straight after you’ll move onto Tapped, an American-style brew pub with its wide range of keg and cask beer, before finishing at the Northern Monk Brewery for a guided tour and tasting at the brewery, which describes itself as ‘an homage to the monastic heritage of brewing’.

 

IT’S LESS THAN 30 MINUTES BY TRAIN FROM LEEDS TO…

York, Yorkshire

Set within York’s historic city walls, York Brewery was the first traditional working brewery within these walls for more than 40 years. The brewery has always welcomed visitors to see how the traditional ale is made, and runs four guided tours per day, Tuesday to Sunday. You’ll start in the brewery taproom bar to enjoy a pre-tour drink, head out across the brewery to learn everything that goes into making its unique beers and the process ‘from grain to glass’ and stop to admire the 20-barrel brew plant in its brewhouse. Handcrafted ales are the brewery’s passion and you can taste its quirky named, award-winning beers; Centurion’s Ghost Ales, the Guzzler, York Minster Ale and the Yorkshire Terrier.

 

ANOTHER HALF HOUR BY TRAIN FROM YORK AND YOU’RE IN…

Harrogate, Yorkshire

Nestled in the charming spa town of Harrogate is the independent, award-winning Harrogate Brewery. Run by Anton and Sarah Stark, this is a very small brewery although has recently moved into larger premises, so more fermenters could be added to allow the couple to small batch brew more beer. It also has space for a brewery tap that opens once a month, ensuring a special experience. Come here for its strong American-hopped ale, the Horse Head Stetson, its award-winning Vanilla Porter and its ‘strong and complex’ Kursaal Imperial Stout.

 

BOOK A TAXI TO TAKE YOU TO…

Masham, Yorkshire

A family run brewery that has been operating for nearly 30 years, Black Sheep Brewery doesn’t have guided tours, it has ‘shepherded’ tours, four times a day! You’ll be taken to see the traditional brewhouse, explore the science behind the fermenting process and how the brewery selects its ingredients for its distinctive tastes, and why it still uses the Yorkshire Square Fermenting Vessels that were developed more than 200 years ago. Then head to its bar to try out a few of its award-winning beers, such as its cult classic cask ale, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, and its strong dark Yorkshire ale Riggwelter.

 

HAVE THE DRIVER TAKE YOU ON TO…

Durham, County Durham

It may be the oldest working brewery in Durham but the award-winning Durham Brewery is still small and family owned, and continues to grow its beer portfolio, which ranges from dark stouts to light bitters, wheat beer to lagerbier, the latter of which takes three months to mature. Daily tours run twice a day and, as well as touring the brewery and tutored tastings, you’ll hear all about British and Durham beer history and culture. Don’t forget to stop by the shop on your way out to buy your favourite tipple.

 

A 15-MINUTE TRAIN RIDE FROM DURHAM AND YOU’LL ARRIVE IN…

Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Housed in the city’s Palace of Art in Exhibition Park – the last remaining building from the 1929 North East Exhibition – the Wylam Brewery is certainly in a very special location. The brewery – which was founded in 2000 and is a 30-barrel brewery – opens its Brewery Tap Thursdays through to Sundays as well as runs brewery tours every Saturday, where the brewing process is explained, as is the fascinating history of the brewery and, of course, the chance to sample the beer. In October 2018 the venue will also host Craft Beer Calling, an international beer festival.

15 incredible ways to celebrate World Gin Day in Britain

Shaken or stirred, with tonic or in a cocktail, the popularity of gin continues to boom and, with more than 160 gin brands across the UK according to the Gin Guild, plus a host of boutique distillers opening, Britain continues to lead the gin revolution. As World Gin Day celebrates its ten-year anniversary on 9 June with a four-day festival in London, make sure these British gin experiences are on your to-do list.

 

England

Stay at Britain's first gin hotel, Portobello Road Gin’s Distillery hotel, London

Book into The Distillery on Portobello Road; this gin lovers' paradise is home to two gin bars, stocking a huge range of gins (including the famous Portobello Road Gin) and the Ginstitute, the hotel's gin museum and blending room, which runs masterclasses showing you how to make your own gin blend.

 

Embark on a Gin Journey tour, London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle

The Gin Journey takes its guests in a chauffeur-driven carriage to five bars in your city of choice, including a local gin distillery, with samples of specially selected premium gin in each. Other tours on offer in London include ‘The Gin Masters Masterclass’ for a chance to learn all about the various styles of gin and its manufacturing from a master distiller.

 

Head for London’s largest collection of gin, London

Featuring more than 500 gins and 30 tonics the Gin Bar at Holborn Dining Room is seriously impressive, offering the discerning gin lover more than 14,000 possible gin and tonic pairings, plus new gin cocktails.

 

Order gin from a ‘Bath’, Bath

The Canary Gin Bar in the south-west England city of Bath, is a haven for gin-lovers due to its vast collection of the spirit on offer. A micro-distillery has also been launched at the bar and has created its very own type of gin, ‘Bath gin’.

 

Enrol in gin school, Leicester
Join the Gin Experience at the 45 Gin School in Leicester and tour the home of Burleighs London Dry Gin, before selecting and distilling your choice of botanicals and bottling your own 70cl bottle of gin, under the guidance of a master distiller.

 

Feast on cake and gin, London

Hayman’s English gin makers and Brigit’s Bakery have joined forces to offer a Gin Lovers Afternoon Tea Bus Tour of London. Tours on the charming, vintage Routemaster bus take in some of London’s most iconic landmarks as a bespoke B Bakery Afternoon Tea is served with Hayman’s Gin infused treats and three seasonal Hayman’s Gin cocktails.

 

Scotland

Indulge in gin pamperingm, Glasgow

Created by the people behind Glasgow’s first dedicated gin bar – Gin71 – the Gin Spa is the world’s first botanically inspired day spa. Find bespoke treatments using the bar’s passion for gin mixed with natural botanical ingredients and sip on a complimentary gin cocktail that comes with every treatment.

 

Venture to the far north for gin, Shetland

Take a tasting tour at the UK’s most northerly gin distillery; the Saxa Vord Distillery on the Shetland Isles. Its recipes infuse gin with either locally harvest apple mint or bladderwrack seaweed to give it a unique Shetland twist.

 

Sail on a gin cruise, Edinburgh

The people behind Edinburgh’s Juniper Festival, Scotland’s first-ever gin festival, now offer special gin tasting events on board its Juniper Cruise. Heading out from Edinburgh on the Lochrin Belle canal boat, its two-hour tasting session teaches guests about gin’s fascinating history while sampling five Scottish gins. Cruises run until November and the Juniper Festival itself takes place at Summerhall, Edinburgh, between 1-3 June.

 

Gin along the North Coast 500, Caithness

Ask someone else to drive this stunning road trip along 500 miles of the far north of Scotland as you’ll want to stop by these two gin distilleries en route and sample the goods. Head to the new visitor centre of the Dunnet Bay Distillery, in Caithness, to discover tales of illicit distilling and the history of prohibition in the local town of Wick, before sampling its flagship gin Rock Rose. Further along near Inverness is the intriguing Glen Wyvis, 100% owned by the local community with a new distillery that aims to be 100% powered by green, renewable energy.

 

Mix gin with chocolate, Perth

The Perth Chocolate and Gin Street Festival, an hour north of Edinburgh, is a haven for those with a passion for chocolate and a love for gin. Coming to the city this November (17-18), there’ll be gins to try from all over the UK and a chance to see how well the two products go together in the chocolate and gin pairing event.  

 

Wales

Buy biosphere-inspired gin

Taste and take home the unique Pollination Gin, distilled by the family run Dyfi Distillery, located in the UNESCO World Biosphere of Dyfi in north-west Wales, on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. It’s produced in very limited small batches, made from foraged botanicals from within the biosphere, pure grain spirit and locally drawn spring water, making it a special gift to take home.

 

Sample sea-inspired gin

Fans of seafood should put this on their must-try list; a small batch gin made with a variety of botanicals infused with seaweed from the Welsh coast, Dà Mhìle Seaweed gin is pretty special. Find out more of how this unusual gin is made with a tour of the distillery near Ceredigion in west Wales, two hours from Cardiff.

 

Northern Ireland

Take Northern Ireland’s very first gin tour

The Belfast Gin Jaunt launched last year and takes guest to five bars to try seven different gins – including three distilled locally – starting at a Victorian Gin Palace and finishing three hours later at the city’s famous Cathedral Quarter.

 

Explore Northern Ireland’s first craft gin

Find out the fascinating story of how Northern Ireland’s first craft gin – Shortcross Gin – came about in a tour of its distillery on the Rademon Estate in County Down, one of Ireland’s oldest historic estates located just half an hour from Belfast. And, of course, the essential tutored tasting of the end product.

Britain’s best coffee houses – the new British brew

Brits may be stereotyped as avid tea drinkers, but it hasn’t stopped a growing coffee culture brewing across the nation.

With award-winning roasters and World Barista Champions, an emphasis on ethically sourced, independently roasted and perfectly brewed flavours, plus “third wave” coffee tastes from Aeropress to cold-drip methods, it’s clear there’s more to Britain’s caffeine fix beyond regular chain-café coffee.

 

Brighton: Small Batch Coffee Roasters

This family-run coffee house roasts its own Arabica coffee, sustainably sourced from local farmers in over 20 countries. Now a powerhouse in local coffee culture, Small Batch has eight locations, serving everything from the classics to their own unique blends and cold brews.

 

Bath: Colonna & Small’s

Co-owned by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, a three-time winner at the UK Barista Championships, this speciality coffee hub is all about flavour. The menu changes weekly for that reason, rotating seasonal coffees from across the world, sourced by expert roasters all over the UK.

 

Bristol: Full Court Press

This minimalist interior matches the slick menu which features two filter blends and two espresso blends that change weekly. The coffee comes from individual farms and co-ops all over the world, as well as some 30 roasters in Europe, enticing people to keep coming back.

 

London: Prufrock

Owned by World Barista Champion, Gwilym Davies and UK Barista Championship Head Judge, Jeremy Challender, this café scooped Time Out’s ‘Best Coffee In London’ accolade. Hand-brewed filter coffee is the star of the show in this two-floor wonderland where each week, three coffees are showcased on the brew-bar while you ask the baristas their secrets.

 

Birmingham: Quarter Horse Coffee

What makes this independent roaster so special is you can see the roasting process in action at its on-site roastery. Premium beans, sourced from all over the globe from entrepreneurial female producers in places such as Colombia and Guatemala, are roasted weekly for maximum freshness.

 

Leeds: Laynes Espresso

This espresso bar is not only is a sleek hangout where you can try dedicated brews (and some of the best sweet treats in the city from Porterhouse Cake Co) it’s also an educational space offering classes for hobby baristas through to professional qualifications.

 

Manchester: Pot Kettle Black

This inviting space in the Victorian-era Grade II-listed Barton Arcade was set up by two local Rugby League stars who wanted to serve artisan coffee in atmospheric surroundings, alongside a menu of healthier food choices including gluten-free and vegan options.

 

Sheffield: Steam Yard

Steam Yard’s owners wanted to keep the alternative, independent spirit of Sheffield’s Division Street alive and this café, with its cool concrete-wood-leather interior, still retains touches of its industrial past. Set in a Grade II-listed building, it serves coffee from London’s award-winning Square Mile Coffee Roasters, and is also known for its speciality coffee-doughnut combo, known as the “Steve McQueen”.

 

Newcastle: Flat Caps Coffee

For coffee brewed in three ways – Filter, Aeropress and the old-fashioned Syphon – head to this bohemian basement café. Owned by a UK Barista Champion finalist and former banker, Joe Meagher, the café sources its beans from roasting companies around the UK and Europe.

 

Edinburgh: Brew Lab
Brewed with meticulous detail and precise brewing techniques, you can try single-original filter and cold brew coffees alongside traditional espresso roasts at Brewlab where a weekly changing coffee menu and locally produced food add to the charm.

 

Cardiff: Quantum Coffee Roasters

Resembling a funky science lab, Quantum loves experimenting with its brewing methods, using V-60 and Chemex pour-overs, I-brick and cold brew towers to get the perfect brew from their in-house roasted blends.

 

Belfast: Established

One of the pioneers of Belfast’s growing coffee scene, the fine coffee blends and tempting brunch menu are a big draw at this cool, minimalist café in the Cathedral Quarter. There’s also a dedicated training room where visitors can learn how to brew better coffee at home.