A FORMER pupil of a school in York has won a major prize in the World Gin Awards.

Luke Pentith, a former pupil of Fulford School, is from Escrick, and founded Whitby Gin with his partner Jess Slater, 10 months ago.

The new gin was named the Best British London Dry Gin in the World Gin Awards 2019 at a ceremony in London, beating well-known brands as Gordons and Tanqueray, and will now go forward to contest the best London Dry Gin in the World category later this month.

Luke said: "It feels as though we are dreaming – it’s all very unreal.

"I went to the London awards ceremony more in hope than expectation. I was completely stunned when it was announced, that we had won. There were over 50 other gins in the frame, including a number of well-known brands, so we are very proud of our achievement."

Luke and Jess thought up their project while on a camping trip across the Outer Hebrides in June 2017, when Jess turned to Luke and wondered why her hometown of Whitby didn’t have a distillery of its own.

With Jess’s background in business planning and Luke’s experience in food manufacturing, decided to produce their own local gin, and by the time they arrived back in Yorkshire, they had created a business plan and ordered a small still. Nine months later Whitby Gin was born in Luke’s parents’ 40 sq ft utility room near where they produced over 3,000 bottles while both working full-time.

The pair have now given up their jobs to concentrate on producing 1,200 bottles of Whitby Gin by hand each month.

Jess said: "It was a massive gamble to give up our careers, but we really believed in what we could achieve. With both the North York Moors and the Yorkshire coast on our doorstep, we are lucky enough to live in a place of unrivalled natural beauty. The stark contrast between land and sea has been our greatest source of inspiration; from the botanicals we use to flavour Whitby Gin to the packaging and design."

"We can’t wait for what this year has in store as our next release captures the diversity of native botanicals. We have explored the rugged coastline and dipped below the ocean surface to find those enchanting ingredients."