Published: 01/09/2021In the latest edition of our Introducing series, we're talking to husband and wife team Jason and Nicky, the owners of an exciting, up and coming gin distillery in West Norfolk.
From locally-inspired gins and vodkas to boozy curd and chocolate spread, WhataHoot offer a range of products that are perfect for gin enthusiasts.
See what the duo have to say about their passion for gin and the county of Norfolk...
Please introduce yourself/yourselves!
We are Nicky and Jason Crown and WhataHoot is an award-winning small batch distillery in the heart of historic King’s Lynn. We make a range of gins and a vodka, as well as gin inspired products such as our unique HootFruit garnish, our boozy Orange curd and ganache chocolates. The distillery is located just off King Street and has been created within a 17th century warehouse. As well as being the hub of production, the ground floor 'Pantry' is open daily for supplies of WhataHoot products and we also offer distillery tours and cocktail masterclasses. In addition we have a bespoke Gin School & Spirit Lounge where visitors can experiment and make their own gins and you can even hire the distillery for a party or private event!
What inspired you to start What a Hoot?
When my husband sold his IT company back in 2017, he wanted to do something entirely different. I was also ready for a new challenge, having worked in the care sector for many years. We wanted a lifestyle business, which we could do together, that would take us to retirement, and perhaps leave something for our children to inherit! They have certainly helped with everything from IT and branding, to photography and attending farmers markets.
Where does your love for gin come from?
It wasn’t so much a love of gin that inspired us to create WhataHoot it was more a passion for creating something unique which we could take to market, and then watch our customers enjoy what we had made. Although we settled on gin because we both love it and we also have a keen fascination in the science and process of distilling.
When did the business open?
We created the company in January 2018 but there was a lot to do before we sold our first bottle of gin, in June that year. Amongst other things, we had to find a suitable premises in which to build the distillery, then we had to learn how to distill! Once we knew the process, we had to establish a blend of traditional and local botanicals which we felt created the perfect flavours for our first, Signature, gin. We also had to create the brand, a website, choose bottles, register with HMRC and much more. To say it was a busy few months would be an understatement, and it hasn’t stopped since!
What makes What a Hoot unique?
We knew that gin was already a crowded market, both nationally and locally, so we wanted to create something which set us apart and we have done this by looking to the wonderful county of Norfolk for our inspiration. We are passionate about Norfolk and the name WhataHoot actually came from our life-long love of the barn owls which inhabit the skies here. So, it seemed fitting to use the owl’s calling card as the calling card for the company. Plus, there is the added fact that having a hoot means having fun and entertaining, which at the very heart of what we have set out to do. We have also looked to Norfolk for inspiration for our flavours and our Signature gin includes local lavender and samphire, whilst our Navy Strength Gin is inspired by Norfolk’s venerable naval heritage.
WhataHoot isn’t just about gins and vodkas. In addition, we have created HootFruit; a unique garnish of 6 dried fruits. The perfect accompaniment to any drink!
What do you love most about Norfolk?
It sounds a cliché but there is so much to love about Norfolk. We are so lucky to have an incredible coastline as well as beautiful countryside, and a myriad of stunning villages and market towns, not to mention Norwich. And there is so much history here. However, I think for us, it has to be the people. We have been overwhelmed by the positivity and support we have received since starting WhataHoot. It is quite scary making something and then asking people to spend their hard-earned money on what you create. So, we are incredibly grateful for the people of Norfolk who have made us feel so welcome and been so supportive of what we have done.
Be sure to check out the WhataHoot website and their Facebook and Instagram.