Lincolnshire has always been known for its agriculture and food production, but the county is now also becoming a hotbed for craft gin-making. The countryside town of Louth, on the doorstep of the beautiful Lincolnshire Wolds, is the home of Louth Distillery, Lincolnshire’s first distillery. A venture that began life as a local business dream has spread quickly in popularity, and with its signature product Pin Gin now recognised and loved across the county, the distillery has opened its doors to offer tours, tasting and gin schools.
We were invited to try a tour and tasting at the distillery. Here’s a little review of our experience, and how you can plan yours. Spoiler: we recommend making a weekend of it!
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Pin Gin: a craft gin born in Lincolnshire
There was a time when industrial-scale distillers held a monopoly over the gin market in the UK. But a law change in 2009 prompted a renaissance of small-batch gin production and transformed the scene for good.
The draconian Gin Act, which dated back to 1751, had outlawed the production of small-batch gin. New licensing laws in 2009 consigned the act to history and opened the floodgates for craft gin producers. So, if you’ve noticed the surge in local, independent gin-makers over the last decade, this landmark law change was the moment that lit the spark.
In Lincolnshire we are now benefitting greatly from the small gin surge, and Louth locals Alan and Amy have led the way. A conversation on a car ride in 2016 set them on a much bigger journey that would see them open Lincolnshire’s first distillery. It was the perfect place to make their dream happen, as there were no commercial distillers in Lincolnshire at the time.
To begin with, Alan and Amy made their gin from an almost makeshift distillery in a garage, and in 2017 they launched their flagship product, Pin Gin. The name was a nod to another business idea Alan had come up with in the car – to make Christmas trees! This is also reflected in the pin icon you can see on the bottle branding.
Pin Gin became so popular that the garage distillery setup could no longer keep pace with demand, and so they moved production into a warehouse in Louth. Originally known as Bottomley Distillers, the business has been rebranded and relaunched as Louth Distillery in 2023.
Gin tour: behind the scenes at Louth Distillery
The latest step in the Louth Distillery journey is that the premises have been opened up for the public to take tours and see where the magic happens, as well as trying out various flavours of Pin Gin, or even making your own bottle.
From the outside, Louth Distillery looks like just another warehouse on an industrial estate. So it’s quite an eye-opener when you step inside and see the impressive setting of the tasting room.
The long bar room is perched on a floor above the distillery, and you can look down onto the maze of tanks and pipes through tall glass windows. Some tables are fitted with miniature stills (distilling contraptions) for gin schools, while others are laid out neatly with glasses ready for tastings.
Along the far side of the tasting room, a rich blue painted wall is decorated with framed pictures visualising elements of the gin-making process.
There is a friendly staff team at Louth Distillery, which has grown with increased demand for Pin Gin and a second flagship product, Rum Cat. But it was Alan himself who showed us around and explain how the process works.
I won’t reveal all the secrets here, as it would ruin the surprise for the tour! But it’s fascinating to see the equipment up close and take a peek inside.
Even the gin tanks at Louth Distillery are part of the family. There are four copper pot stills – Dotty, Rose, Stansfield, and finally Molly, who is the largest of the lot. With a 5,000 litre capacity, she can make more than 50,000 bottles of gin every day.
Pin Gin tasting experience
The tour and tasting experience at Louth Distillery lasts about an hour, and it’s really nicely balanced between learning the science and stories, as well getting to know the product itself.
Pin Gin in its classic original format is a London Dry gin, but there are other variations and flavours to try as well. On the tasting experience you try four in total, and it won’t necessarily be the same ones every time.
We tried the original along with Valencian Orange, Premium Pink and Navy Strength. It seemed everyone in our tasting group had a different favourite! Mine was the Premium Pink, which had a sweet fruity aroma with a spicy and citrusy twist in the flavour.
It’s lots of fun to see if you can identify the different aromas and tasting notes.
Booking your Louth Distillery tour and tasting
The Louth Distillery tour and tasting runs on Fridays at 4pm and Saturdays at 6pm, and costs £25. You can book on the distillery’s website. You’ll probably want to take a bottle away, and so luckily there’s a £5 discount in the shop after the tour and tasting, and you also get a free Louth Distillery tote bag.
Louth Distillery Gin School
Next time we visit Louth we’ll definitely be trying out the distillery’s Gin School. Using your own still you’ll be shown how to make your own personalised gin, and take away a 70cl bottle at the end.
It’s a three hour experience and costs £95, or you can choose the couple’s experience for £135.
How to get to Louth Distillery
Louth Distillery is located on the Fairfield Industrial Estate, which is just outside Louth town centre. It’s easy to reach by car, and there’s parking on site. From Lincoln, the best way to get to Louth is straight up the A157 and then the A116.
If you’re staying in the town overnight (which we definitely recommend, more on that below!), then it’s actually walkable distance – about 30 minutes or so. Or you could just take a taxi with a local firm like M.Goys.
Make a weekend of it: stay in Louth after a gin tasting!
The only drawback to visiting Louth is that it’s not easy to reach by public transport. There was once a railway line to the town, but sadly it closed in 1951. There is a bus service from Lincoln, but it is infrequent and doesn’t run into the evening.
So, we always find it easier to drive… which presents an obvious problem with gin tasting! Thankfully, Louth is a lovely town where we are more than happy to spend a weekend, and there is a choice of homely, welcoming places to stay.
After the tour and tasting experience, we stayed at The Traveller’s B&B, a family-run bed and breakfast just a couple of minutes’ walk from the town centre. The rooms were spacious and comfortable, but most importantly, the breakfast was delicious! You can have a full English (with Lincolnshire sausage of course), and there is also a buffet of cereals, fruits, yoghurts and juices to enjoy.
You could book onto a Saturday evening gin tasting, go out for dinner in town at the Greyhound Inn, then blow away the cobwebs on Sunday morning with a walk in the Lincolnshire Wolds. Perfection!
We are planning more content on Louth in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, we’d love to hear about your experiences at the distillery. Let us know in the comments below.
You can find more ideas for experiences in Lincolnshire in our section on day trips from Lincoln.
Check out our guide to the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, a great visitor experience just a few miles outside Louth.