Gin distiller bids to create 'speakeasy' on Holy Island

Holy Island Gin.Holy Island Gin.
Holy Island Gin.
The brains behind the Holy Island Gin brand are hoping to branch out with a shop and "speakeasy" selling their products, as well as offering cocktail classes and a distillery school.

Andrew Cowan founded his business in 2016, while running his parents’ watering hole and Lindisfarne landmark the Ship Inn.

And following the success of the enterprise, which witnessed a surge in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, he is hoping to branch out, creating a shop and distillery school.

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“We started about four or five years ago and then during lockdown I decided to give up my full-time job and make this my focus,” said Mr Cowan.

The Ship Inn on Holy Island.The Ship Inn on Holy Island.
The Ship Inn on Holy Island.

“We had an opportunity to take on a retail unit on the island, it was previously the old village store and originally they were going to turn it into a holiday cottage, but were struggling to get planning permission.

“So we said we would be interested in taking it on as a shop and we’re hoping to open next year, selling our gin and vodka and hopefully some other spirits coming out next year.”

According to an application lodged with Northumberland County Council, the venue has applied for a licence allowing it to sell alcohol between 9am and 9pm, seven days a week.

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This would include consumption on the premises, as well as allowing products to be taken away.

It has also requested opening hours to run until 9.30pm.

Mr Cowan, who said the new venue would be styled as an apothecary or speakeasy, is hoping the plans, which may have proved controversial in other locations, will be welcomed as an alternative to adding more holiday accommodation to the island.

He added: “The application hasn’t come without questions – we’re just trying to create something which will create a few jobs.

Holy Island always has a bit of a battle trying to retain people living here. Our plan for the distillery is to create some cooler jobs and experiences the island can be proud of.

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“There’s nothing in Northumberland quite like this, I think it will be a great place once it’s up and running.”

Visit the Northumberland County Council website to view the application.

Any comments on the proposals should be submitted to the local authority by December 1.