In 2016, the Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink, April is Brewing & Distilling month. Having covered brewing with ‘Brewing by the Yard’ it was time for distilling. I met with Gerry White to talk about his very own Jawbox Gin.
A Chat with Gerry
So on a bright Wednesday evening I headed to Hilden Brewery to meet with Gerry White, a man with over 30 years in the Bar trade, General Manager of the John Hewitt In Belfast and Founder of Jawbox Gin. This was a Meet the Buyer event arranged by Tourism NI and Jawbox was there along with a handful of other local drinks companies, breweries and distilleries armed with samples, flyers and of course a smile and plenty of craic.
Sitting down with Gerry for a chat It was both immediately and abundantly clear that not only was his knowledge of his work vast, it was matched by his passion for what he had created and how he went about it.
Jawbox, being another word for a Belfast sink is a name chosen for it’s traditional standing back when the working kitchen was shared by several families living on the same street.
“It’s about a time when hard working people just rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in”
“Families would gather round the big Belfast sink for conversation and craic. Real people telling real stories. So now instead of doing this around the jawbox, they do it over a Jawbox”
As was the case when I spoke to Niall McMullan from Hercules Brewery, Jawbox looks back to a time of Belfast’s Linen mills and Ship Builders. Hard graft with a worthwhile ending. This passion for tradition and the drive for success is definitely paying off for Jawbox as bottles are being shipped all over the UK, Ireland and beyond.
Going His Own Way
With gin being his drink of choice and seeing how complex some brands had become, over the last three years Gerry, with the help of the guys from Drinksology rolled his own sleeves up and got stuck into creating his gin.
Made in the Echlinville Distillery, Jawbox is Ireland’s first and only single estate gin. The grain used is grown on site, on the surrounding acres of land. The distillery’s very own ‘Echlinville spirit’ is used in producing the gin, along with a small but carefully chosen list of botanicals including Belfast heather.
The classic Jawbox serving is with lime and ginger ale, another drink with its roots in Belfast.
“The Grains of Paradise botanical has a black pepper taste and goes perfectly with the spice of the ginger ale”
You Know You’ve Made It
“it was a great moment when I was in a bar and I first heard the person beside me ordering a Jawbox. It was a good feeling”
“The bottle has good shelf shout and it makes you want to try it for the first time. But it’s what’s inside, it’s the taste that makes you come back and order a second”
I must agree the bottle stands out and luckily for me is very photogenic. As for the taste, well, I will be back for a second.
Thank you Gerry for your time. I’m sure I’ll be dandering into the John Hewitt before too long. See you then.