Holy Island (or The Holy Island of Lindisfarne for is official name) is one of our favourite places to visit in Northumberland.
Where else could you be stranded on an island (when the tides comes in and cuts Holy Island off from the main land twice a day), having local coffee, castles, pubs and hand crafted gin at your finger tips!
We’re more than happy for the tide to come in when we’re wandering the Island, there is so much to do here.
We were delighted to catch up with 793 Spirits earlier in the summer and so happy they were willing to give us an insight into their fabulous business.
Well worth the visit when visiting the Island. Read on as we delve into the world of an Island gin producer.
What has been the highlight of your first year as 793 Spirits?
It’s been a busy first year for 793 Spirits, but a great one! We set up our distillery back in 2017 under our original name ‘Holy Island Gin’. After 5 years of trading, we felt that we reached all that we could with our branding, and we wanted a new adventure with a brand that captured the real essence of Holy Island. So, we rebranded and ‘793 Spirits Co.’ was born. Our highlights this year have definitely been launching our brand-new gin ‘Creed & Tide’ and opening our new liquor store ‘Spirit & Soul’ with a little surprise hidden in the back!
Where did the name 793 Spirits come from?
The name ‘793 Spirits’ is reflective of the year 793, which was when the Vikings landed on Holy Island. It was said that the Vikings brought the new era to the Island and our aim was also, to bring the ‘new era of spirits’ to Holy Island. We also have a Nordic theme running through a range of our spirits which is a nod to the rich Viking history our island has. Our vodka range ‘Mjødka’ was named after the traditional Nordic name for Mead as we distil with wildflower honey.
Give us an insight to the ethos and culture of Spirit 793 on such a magical island.
We are a very small chaotic team of two, who run on coffee, chips and tequila that are making mint liquor for mint people! We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we very openly share the mishaps and chaos along the way! We are very environmentally conscious; we want to protect our beautiful surroundings. So, we’re plastic free and aim to be carbon neutral.
What makes being on Holy Island and being Holy Islands only gin producer so special?
We take a lot of inspiration from our beautiful island, from the wild berries that grow here, our past down tales & traditions to our local legends favourite tipple down the pub! Holy Island has a long, interesting history of producing its own alcohol, so we’re extremely proud to be Holy Islands only distillery to hopefully continue the tradition for generations to come.
What complexities does being cut off by the tide twice a day make to operating your business?
The positives certainly outweigh the negatives of having a business on Holy Island, our biggest issue is deliveries, with sometimes only a small window of time for deliveries to arrive, we can go days without getting essential supplies. This just means a lot of forward planning & organising, which I must say is not 793’s forte!
Give us an insight into your production in terms of size, how many bottles you produce and if you do lots of things by hand?
We currently have a 250L copper still, during the busy period, she runs at least once a week. We get approximately 250 bottles per batch, across our gins and vodkas. We do everything by hand! From filling to labelling & hand whipping each bottle neck with natural twine!
Where can guests buy your products and what is your best seller?
We have our own retail space on Holy Island, where we would love guests to come and have a look around, have a chat with us and definitely try a few samples! We have also just opened a secret bar, hidden behind our bookcase, to taste the perfect G&T! If they can’t make it over to the island, we have a few lovely local suppliers spread around Northumberland including Bamburgh Castle, Northumbrian Gifts, Sunnyhills farm shop and Turnball’s Food Hall. We also have an online shop! Our best seller is our original dry gin ‘Creed & Tide’, a perfect traditional fresh gin. Saying that, we are seeing a quickly increasing amount of interest in our Vodka ‘Mjødka’, distilled with local wildflower honey!
Can visitors to the island come and visit you when they’re here?
Our shop ‘Spirit & Soul’ is open every day on the island, a place of liquors, curiosities & sanctuary! We’re located in Market Square, just along from the Crown & Anchor pub. Our little distillery is in the beer garden of The Ship pub, if one of us is working away in there, feel free to pop in & say Hi!
We’d love to know what your favourite mixer or cocktail is to use with your Spirits?
With our Creed & Tide, we recommend a premium tonic, lots of ice and a twist of fresh orange peel. The garnish really compliments our citrusy botanicals without masking the delicate flavour of our gin. For our Mjødka, we recommend trying it straight out the freezer over ice to experience the silky-smooth texture or if you prefer a longer drink, try with ginger ale and a squeeze of fresh lime. Try our gin in a Tom Collins or come have a cocktail in our small bar to try our original recipes!
What advice would you give someone visiting Holy Island for the first time?
Most importantly, check the times! Holy island is a tidal island and crossing times change daily. While you’re here, relax on our gorgeous beaches, eat amazing food from the Crown & Anchor, try Holy Island roasted coffee at Pilgrims Coffee House and try the delicious home baking from 1st Class Food. And of course, pop into Spirit & Soul to try our spirits!
What new and exciting things can we look forward to from 793 Spirits?
We are just about to release two more gins, a Pomegranate & Rooibos Leaf gin called ‘Siren’ and we’re particularly excited for our 57% Navy strength ‘Hold Fast’. Our Hold Fast is distilled with a bunch of fresh lime & we add Holy Island Sea Salt afterwards which really highlights the flavour! Last December we distilled our very first batch of island rum, which is currently aging in oak barrels in our distillery. We will be releasing our rum later this year & we can’t wait!
Why are stills given a name and what was the inspiration for yours?
Still are the main member of the distilling family so they most certainly deserve a name, most are named in homage to people of importance! Our first still was named ‘Mona’, after our distiller’s grandmother and our current still is named after his first daughter ‘Aila-Rose’.