Durham Cathedral launches a Monks’ gin for Christmas shoppers

Dec 7, 2023 | Local News

Durham Cathedral has launched a new gin in partnership with Durham Distillery just in time for Christmas.

Durham Cathedral Monks’ Gin, which is now available to buy in the cathedral shop, has been inspired by historical records of a gin distillery which was once situated in the cathedral grounds and by the botanicals used by monks in the 14th and 15th Century.

Durham Cathedral has worked in partnership with local company, Durham Distillery, who are located a few minutes walk from the cathedral. Durham Distillery creates a range of spirits using both traditional and modern techniques, using locally sourced ingredients.

The new Monks’ Gin has flavours of pear and citrus, spiced with pepper and cinnamon. Research was carried out, using a range of records from the cathedrals library and archives, to discover the botanicals once used by monks, which date back to the 14th and 15th century.

Hannah Ellis, Head of Enterprise at Durham Cathedral said: “We’re delighted to have been able to make this product just in time for Christmas. The team working on it have taken inspiration from this historic place and the monks’ who once lived here to develop something truly unique. We’re sure it will be a popular addition to the cathedral shop this season as it makes an ideal gift – it’s quirky, fun and rooted in the history of Durham Cathedral.”

The old distillery, known as the Gin Still was located on the site of the cathedrals infirmary and remains today in the Works Yard, now home to Durham Cathedral’s stonemasons and joiners. The site, once used by monks to make alcohol, was visited by Durham Distillery, who then used botanicals from the centuries-old records to create a new gin recipe.

Hannah added: “Knowing that there was a distillery onsite and that the monks would have distilled their own alcohol, as well as having records of their ingredients and recipes, was an opportunity to celebrate this part of the cathedrals history. It was an added bonus that we had a local distillery just down the road who was equally as excited to collaborate on this project! “

Durham Distillery have also created a cocktail recipe and a gin and tonic combination to accompany the Monks’ Gin, on a recipe card that is given to anyone who purchases a bottle in the Cathedral Shop.

Managing Director and Founder of Durham Distillery, Jon Chadwick, said: “I have always loved Durham Cathedral, and growing up in Durham it has been a big part of my life. The community around the cathedral and the Shrine of St Cuthbert may be different to the times of the Monks, but is no less vibrant and meaningful. We had lots of fun creating Monks Gin, including researching the original still belonging to the Infirmerer. This is one of the most rewarding projects we have ever worked on, and we are incredibly proud to be a small part of the life of the cathedral”

The artwork for the Monks’ Gin was designed by a local artist and the label was inspired by original 13th century manuscripts that were used during the research phase.

The Very Revd Dr Philip Plyming, Dean of Durham said: “Our historic records show that Monks living in this special place hundreds of years ago would have made their own drink, so we’re pleased to have been able to work with local suppliers and artists, celebrating the good gifts from God’s creation to make this unique item for the cathedral shop.”

Durham Cathedral Monks’ Gin is available to purchase in the shop for £20 for 20cl and £50 for 70cl. Sales from the Monks’ Gin supports the conservation of Durham Cathedral for future generations to enjoy.