The Story

Nightingale’s Gin – The Spirit of Wakefield

Nightingale’s Gin is inspired by our district’s history, local and forgotten crops, the botanical gardens of Nostell, and Wakefield’s very own Victorian period Yorkshire explorer & conservationist Charles Waterton.

Our exquisite gin collection is born from a collaboration of talent from Wakefield City Centre itself and has been contributed to by the gin-soaked team of Wakefield Beer Exchange and their gin-loving friends and patrons!

Challenged to produce a gin that not only tasted phenomenal but also celebrated our Merrie City as the historic heart of the old West Riding of Yorkshire was something that our first cuckoo gin distiller just couldn’t turn down.

Nightingale’s Gin is crafted in very, very small batches by artisan gin distiller David Owens.  It is distilled from a delightful and truly original recipe that the folk of Wakefield and our wider West Riding can really chirp about.

The Spirit of Wakefield is born from two original expressions, Nightingale’s West Riding Dry and Nightingale’s Rhubarb & Mulberry Gin.

Love Wakefield, Love Gin, Drink Nightingale’s!

What’s in a Name?

The Nightingale

Famous Wakefield conservationist and explorer Charles Waterton detailed listening to the nightingale’s night-time song in his last diary entry of 1865.  The lost nightingales of Wakefield became the soul of our work and symbolise our need for brave exploration and innovative conservation.

 And on the label……

 The Fleur-de-lys

This icon of Wakefield featured in our coat of arms for over 500 years.

The White Rose

Wakefield was the seat of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the white rose featured on the county’s coat of arms and flag.

 The Eight Botanicals

Eight botanicals are used to produce Nightingale’s West Riding Dry Gin to celebrate Wakefield achieving city status in 1888.

The Black & Gold

Our original West Riding Dry Gin tips our hat to the local coal trade that flourished in the 18th Century and the ‘hearts of gold’ of the fine folk of Yorkshire’s West Riding.

 Born on the Bullring – Partnerships Working

Wakefield’s Nightingale Gin was a distant vision only made possible from the friendships and partnerships built at Wakefield Beer Exchange on the Bullring!

Our rhubarb and mulberry gin was first crafted behind the bar as a part of David’s Ginfusion range and it quickly became a firm favourite with the local gin lovers and patrons of this quirky little beer café and gin lounge.  Sitting in a quality driven selection of thirty gins, it surprisingly established itself as the bar’s best seller.

This new-found house gin of Wakefield Beer Exchange was named ‘Nightingale’s’ after David spent time researching the Charles Waterton story at the local museum for another city centre initiative and the wheels were set in motion.

With the Wakefield Gin project picking up pace, and in desperate need of a proper label, David tapped into the design skills of Wakefield Beer Exchange’s DJ and vinyl expert Dan Stringer, who has a keen ear for his music but, as it turns out, is also a cracking graphic designer as well.

The web site was designed by Wakefield Beer Exchange regular Matt Sharpe, who would prop up the bar at the end of his days studying his web design degree at Wakefield College, waiting for his bus back to his home to Pontefract.

Our first chance to distil Nightingale’s West Riding Dry was gifted to us by the star of Leeds Gin, Sara Birkinshaw.  Sara had been the special guest distiller at the first Gin Experience event at the Wakefield Beer Exchange.  Sara and Dave got chatting after the full-house event and we were invited to meet her small gin still ‘Minerva’ and use her facilities for our first trial runs.

Sara’s still ‘Minerva’ is named after the Greek goddess of wisdom who’s symbol is an owl, which Dave found quite fitting seeing as his own gin was to have a theme that was also linked to a bird.  This outstanding commitment from Sara at Leeds Gin to allow us to use her equipment was the key to the Wakefield Gin project and paved the way for Nightingale’s Gin to really become a reality.

Our last partnership also came out of the Wakefield Beer Exchange.  We were looking for a South American botanical to celebrate Charles Waterton’s explorations in the region during the 1800’s (an iconic time for gin production) but that also celebrated something of the wider West Riding of Yorkshire.

A chance introduction to local chocolatier David Greenwood-Haigh who we met following a chocolate tasting held for a local business collective defined the path to a unique botanical.  The two Dave’s hit it off famously and they began work on pairing spirits with chocolate, paving the way for David’s South American cocoa nibs to become a key ingredient in the Nightingale’s Gin recipe, celebrating the South American link to Charles Waterton but also to Yorkshire as a historic centre for chocolate production!

Nightingale’s Gin only exists from the relationships built over a nice Yorkshire cuppa, glass of craft beer or tot of artisan gin at Wakefield Beer Exchange.  This passion project was truly ‘Born on the Bullring’ and comes purely from the heart of Wakefield City Centre!