Shorty’s Gins of Whitby - Endeavour Gin
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Our review has not been influenced by anyone at Shorty's Gins and we have not been paid for this review.
We recently received a new gin to try from Shorty’s Gins of Whitby. They recently released their new London Dry ‘Endeavour Gin’ which we loved! We caught up with Rachael “Shorty” Conisbee who is the brain child behind Shorty’s Gins to find out a bit more about her gin.
Can you take us back to where it all started for Shorty’s Gins, where did the name come from and what got you into the gin industry?
At the beginning of 2017, I was foraging on local beaches for things to make driftwood art. I had a small workshop overlooking the sea. It suited me as I lost my sister Rebecca in July 2012 and my dad Michael a year later. Things were tough and I think I was trying to find some peace. I have looked after my mum, who is like my best friend, since Dad died. For Christmas 2016, I made a plum gin liqueur and a sloe gin liqueur. I was experimenting and planned to give them out as Christmas presents to family and friends. They went down far too well! So I went back to the local enterprise team at the council and proposed setting up Shorty’s Gins. They said “Stick to driftwood art love, setting up a gin business is far too complicated!”. Well, the challenge had been made. I got my personal licence, compounders licence, my own premises, got onto the AWRS and then onto the duty stamp scheme. I was ready to go! I called the business Shorty’s as my dad always called me Shorty and my sister Lanky. It just had to be Shorty’s. I have been called Shorty all of my life.
You’ve launched your London Dry offering from the Shorty’s Gins range last month (July). What has the reception to Endeavour Gin been like so far?
Unbelievable! Every single person who has tried it loves it. I worked on the recipe for months and trialled it in Leicester in August 2018. I still have some of that very first trial bottle left. It was important to invest in the labels. Designed by Tori Williams, she managed to achieve everything and more from the erratic brief I sent to her. We worked together closely for two weeks and the end result is stunning.
Speaking of the design, is that HMS Endeavour that you’ve chosen to go on the label? What was it about Captain Cook that gave you the inspiration for the label, you must be a fan?
The image is actually of a Whitby CAT (Coal and Timber flat bottomed ship). It encapsulates the strength of Endeavour and what it achieved under the captaincy of James Cook. Endeavour before she was commissioned by the Admiralty and renamed was originally used to transport Coal and Timber. When I was around 3 years old living in the small village of Sandsend, just outside of Whitby, I loved books and remember receiving the Ladybird book, Captain Cook. It was my pride and joy. To this day remember every image in the book. He was my hero. So when the replica from Stockton was moved back to Whitby in early 2018, I thought I had to try to get the trademark.
We know starting your own gin brand isn’t easy. Can you tell us about some problems that you faced and what has been your biggest obstacle to date?
Gin Bandits, it was quite horrible at times. Firstly, I had a threat of opposition from a large company, Accolade Wines of Australia, regarding my trademark application. However, they very kindly allowed me to have Endeavour Gin in the UK. I had to change my classifications on my application and agree to sell in the UK only. I thought happy days Shorty! But then I was trying hard to raise the funds to get the first batch of Endeavour made and I found out purely by chance that someone had flooded the market with Endeavour Gin. Well, things went from bad to worse when the other company said I would have to take them to court to get it back. Being a one-woman business (and I had been far too honest about my set up), they knew I did not have the money to do that. So, after receiving some fantastic advice from a trademark solicitor, we issued a cease and desist letter. The company withdrew stock and ceased using my trademark immediately as it was a clear-cut case of intellectual property infringement. The little fish finally beat the pike in the pond! Every obstacle since this time last year has been easy to overcome in comparison.
We’ve tried your Endeavour gin, and it certainly gets the thumbs up from us. At the time of tasting we didn’t know any of your recipe, but we get some citrus flavours, maybe some orange. One thing that stands out to us is a natural sweetness which may be from the use of cinnamon, liquorice, or maybe even honey, but we also pick up some chocolatey/fruity notes which we can’t quite place. Who came up with the final recipe and can you share any of your chosen botanicals with us?
It is my own secret recipe. To achieve the smoothness takes a combination of berry and floral botanicals. I can tell you that there are elderberries in there and for that subtle spice kick, I use pink peppercorns. The sweetness of the outer shell is magical and then you get the heat kick of the peppercorn.
We do love pink peppercorn as a botanical. Currently you’re distilling in batches of 300, do you get involved with the distillation process?
I don’t have my own still yet. Still saving up! But I have the premises and am currently the only gin business actually based in Whitby. Yes, I have worked closely with the distiller who is making Endeavour at the moment. We trialled a litre initially and then ramped up the volume. I tasted the batch before bottling and it was like my first trial way back in August 2018. One day, who knows, we could be doing much larger batches.
It’s still early days, but you have a range of gin liqueurs and now a London Dry. Are there any other gin plans brewing away?
I have two more gins in mind so far. I have had a hedgerow recipe from 2017 which I initially made by compounding. It tasted great but looked like muddy water, so needs distilling. The second one is top secret for now. I do have a name in mind and ideas for branding and am due to start experimenting with botanicals soon!
And lastly. Where can our followers pick up a bottle of Shorty’s Gin and how would you suggest they serve your wonderful London Dry?
You can buy Endeavour London Dry Gin via my facebook page Shorty’s Gins or via the website www.shortysgins.com. Locally in the north east, several shops are stocking it: Clarkes of Whitby, Furbellows and Co, Whitby and Gosnay’s Spar in Saltburn by the sea. It is on my very long to do list to try and get a larger chain interested.
To serve, Endeavour doesn’t need anything fancy. A good neutral tonic, ice and a twist of citrus peel, preferably grapefruit or orange.
Thanks for your time Rachael, we wish you all the best with Shorty’s Gin range and we look forward to seeing what the future holds.
Thank you so much for your review and enthusiasm. My ultimate dream right now is to get the go ahead and supply cruise ships. Imagine being on a liner to Australia or the Americas, following in the footsteps of Captain Cook and having Shorty’s Endeavour Gin behind every bar. Being a one-woman business has been tough and at times it would have been easier to give up. But I am a Conisbee and we never give up. The family motto is Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum which means ‘Never take a step backwards’. I will make my sister Bec and Dad proud. My mum is my greatest supporter. Without her I would not be doing this.