Belfast inspires John Hewitt pub boss to create Jawbox Gin
Pub manager Gerry White has united his long-time love of gin and his home city of Belfast with the launch of his new premium Jawbox Gin.
The John Hewitt manager is set to unveil Ireland's first 'single estate gin' later this month, and has high hopes of selling the premium spirit as far afield as the US.
He's working with Co Down's Echinville Distillery, located in Kircubbin, to produce the top-end classic gin product - which has been in the making for three years.
And everything, from the Victorian-style medicine bottle, branding, history, and recipe, has its heart firmly in Belfast.
"I know craft beer has been massive, but gin has always been my drink," he said.
But it's not been easy, with several setbacks almost leading the 57-year-old to give up.
He said the journey from a concept six years ago, to finalising the recipe and branding, had been "an amazing experience".
"I would love to see it get to other parts of Europe, and as far afield as the US - the gin really is great quality," he said.
While he's not giving up the day job just yet, Gerry says he's hopeful the new premium will succeed.
"I really hope it takes off, and it could eventually become my full-time job," he said.
Gerry says that the gin will have a juniper berry profile, and a more classic flavour than some of the other small-batch varieties currently on the market.
A veteran of the pub trade in Northern Ireland for 30 years, he's been at the helm of the award-winning John Hewitt bar on Donegall Street for the last 10 years.
The Echinville Distillery is already producing top-end, and award-winning, spirits, with its Dunville's 10-year single malt whiskey walking away with a top gong at this year's World Whiskies Awards.
The distillery was granted the first licence to distil spirits in Northern Ireland for many decades.
The new classic dry gin recipe has been created by Gerry and the distillery.
The project is a collaboration with distributor Drinksology, which is behind the brand's ambitious design and overall presentation.
And Gerry said his ultimate short-term goal is sitting in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, and ordering one of his own products.
It will be the latest high-end Northern Ireland-made gin to hit the market, after the success of Shortcross.
Fiona and David Boyd-Armstrong opened the Rademon Estate Distillery in Crossgar, back in 2012.
Ms Boyd-Armstrong is the daughter of well-known property developer and Rademon Estate owner Frank Boyd - one of Northern Ireland's richest men.