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Poetic License

Based in the Poetic License Distillery Bar and Soul Food (formerly The Roker Hotel), Mark Hird created the brand Poetic License after realising his potential to succeed in an industry where his expertise as a trained chef as well as food & bar manager, and the access his 12 thriving hotels gave him, would count for something. He began with a microbrewery, which opened in 2012, and named it Sonnet 43, after the Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem. She was born just a stone’s throw from the brewery site. In late 2013, Luke Smith began working with Sonnet 43, and it wasn’t long before Hird moved on to his project, with Smith in mind. Establishing a microdistillery of his own was Hird’s next ambition, and he hired Smith to become a full time gin distiller. By January 4th 2015, the project became official and Luke moved to begin working within Hird’s Roker Hotel. Using a 5 litre still to produce trial recipes, the duo distilled for a total of 7 months to create a London Dry Gin that they were happy with - which contains the exact same botanical bill they still use today. With the recipe decided, Poetic License then set about perfecting its method, which began by crushing the botanicals in a home-brew malt mill. These are then steeped for 24 hours before distillation, which gives them time to macerate with the spirit. This one shot process allows them to produce two different gins at around 400 bottles in a batch. It was unrealistic to expect that modest still to be able to handle the type of quantity Poetic Lecesne were hoping to be able to distill, so a new, 1.75 tonnes, 500 litres (working volume) still was imported from China. Named ‘Gracie’, assembling the still proved exceedingly difficult, and two days into the process she blew up. Following a further two more days with the electrician and some new parts, Gracie was brought to life. Since then, things have been very good for Poetic License. The Gin Masters certainly seem to think so; in 2016 they awarded the Poetic Licence Old Tom Gin the distinction of Master in the Old Tom category and Poetic Licence Picnic Gin picked up Gold in the Flavoured category.

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