Dom runs our Gin school where he takes visitors through producing their own Gin using their preferred botanical flavours. Whether you want to infuse your favourite fruit or a combination of herbs and spices, we will develop a Gin that perfectly fits the bill. We can also store the recipe and method in our safe for ordering in the future, which is not available to anyone else.
Dom our Founder & Distiller is a former soldier and Bradford-born green innovator who is putting his eco credentials into practice at our artisan gin distillery. Dom is utilising his past experience by looking at ways to eliminate water wastage at the distillery.
Having founded the company 4Navitas, Dom set up a factory in Blackpool to prototype a vertical axis wind turbine that saw him pick up a new innovation award in Los Angeles in 2016.
When he sold the company in 2018, Dom turned his attention to artisan gin making and the challenge of the processes of water wastage.
“Being of African descent means I have an aversion to wasting water and at our present volume of gin production we are losing one million litres of water per year,” Dom explaines.
“Our predicted growth rate means we could be losing far more and so we are making plans. “As our premises are Grade II listed we are not allowed to put in a new water tank large enough to serve our purposes, but we have a plan.”
That plan is reinstalling a previous feature of the house - its swimming pool. The original pool was converted to a carp pond but Dom is hoping to put it back to its original purpose and fill it with the waste water from the distillery.
“The water will come back to the pool from the condensers on the stills at 65 degrees, providing a heat sink. We will benefit by eradicating waste water, seeing a reduction in our water bill of several thousands of pounds and we will also have our own swimming pool.”
As well as renewable energy, Dom’s career since leaving the Prince of Wales Own Regiment where he served as a corporal in the 80s and 90s, seeing action in both Germany and Northern Ireland, has also involved food and drink.
“I’m a foodie. I love tasting good food and good produce. I went to Malton Food Festival and that’s how we began looking into the chemistry of distilling. I found out how gin was made, invested in a still and began checking out the taste.
“I found there was a point in the process where I felt the gin was far superior.”
Hooting Owl Distillery has grown very quickly but we are determined to stick to our principles as an artisan distillery.
“You can’t really scale up an artisan business, otherwise you’re no longer a true artisan, so we do things differently. We use smaller stills, because smaller stills make finer spirit.”
Hooting Owl Distillery is made up of one module of ten 30-litre stills.
If we had one 300-litre still we would be limited to producing only one style of gin at a time. But our range now extends to 86 different gins all made with different ingredients and botanicals. Our core range of six branded Hooting Owl gins includes four Yorkshire branded products, as well as our signature gin and one for my brotherhood in the forces.
And one of the Yorkshire Gins is also a nod to Dom’s father who arrived in Hull unintentionally in 1954 at the age of 14.
He was on a ship carrying cargo from the Gambia and was meant to go back with another cargo boat but there were no sailings.
Dom said because of his age, he knew he would be taken into care so he threw his ID card into the Humber and said he was 24.
“When he was asked to spell his name he told them the M was silent, and apparently that’s why they added the apostrophe.
“Our East Yorkshire gin is a nod to him as it contains fruit from the baobab tree, Africa’s tree of life.”
Dom said working with smaller stills also made it easier when trying new recipes or developing new gins and also means less wastage if things don’t work out quite the way they want.
“I’m incredibly finicky when it comes to creating spirits and if it’s not right, I will work until I’m happy with it.
“Attention to detail has to be paid at all times and especially now as we make bespoke gins for many clients, including five for James and Kate MacKenzie’s Michelin-star restaurant The Pipe & Glass at South Dalton.”
A statue of a golden owl stands above the door to Barmby Moor House as it has for many years and is affectionately named after a previous owner, Sir Owlfred Tyton Hodgins. The story goes that as Dom was renovating the house he stumbled across a concealed floor safe and inside he found a single bottle of Sir Owlfred’s Hooting Owl Signature Gin and an old book containing many of his secret recipes.
Along with it was a diary of his gin-making journey including a drawing of the distillery which was located in the old stable buildings. The story of Sir Owlfred and his legacy is told on Dom’s tours and tastings.
“Gin is all about a story and people love hearing about us finding the old safe and this once being a coaching house.”
Hooting Owl now one of more than 25 throughout the county. Dom explaines that it’s not an easy market.
“Margins are tight for everyone. Around one-third of the price of all the gin produced is taken through duties and tax and then there’s the distributor cost. We are building up our online sales which helps but we are looking forward to the hospitality trade reopening.”
Making good use of the extensive old stable building at Barmby Moor House, Hooting Owl is home to a fully equipped craft distillery, expertly distilling a range of traditional dry gins and other premium craft spirits combining a carefully researched and selected blend of botanicals. Inspired by the story of the house itself and by the geography, culinary heritage and abundant produce of Yorkshire, Hooting Owl also adds a hint of family and military history to the mix.