My husband and I founded WhataHoot Gin in January 2018.
With WhataHoot we really wanted to create a lifestyle business, where we could share our passion with our customers and create something unique for them to enjoy.
So when we launched at the Norwich Food & Drink Festival, started selling our first bottles in June 2018, and achieved all of our other accomplishments within the past 18 months, I know we have succeeded in creating something truly unique.
The Hootiful Story and Success behind WhataHoot
My husband owned an IT company and I was in the care sector. One day we decided to sell his company and for me to leave my job to set about creating something we really hoped the public would love.
The first six months were all about creating a brand, building a distillery, choosing bottles and then perfecting our recipe. For us making gin really is a labour of love. Not only is it a family business, as our two sons Ethan and Oliver regularly help out as well, but the name is really personal.
As a family we have a life-long love of the barn owls who inhabit the skies in Norfolk, so when we stumbled upon what has become the home for our business – a traditional barn formerly inhabited by owls on the Sandringham estate, itself a bird sanctuary – we felt it was a sign.
With our love for owls and finding this wonderful location it seemed only fitting to use the owl’s calling card as the calling card for the company. After all, it is all about having fun and entertaining – the very definition of WhataHoot! As we always say, “We have fun drinking it, why not have fun making it!”
Still we have to pinch ourselves that we have created a gin that has been so positively received. We have had gin connoisseurs, restaurateurs, publicans, retailers and the public tell us they love WhataHoot, which makes us absolutely thrilled to have created a product that people really want to buy.
We are also really proud of the fact that we have expanded so much in just the first 18 months. The gin itself has only been selling for just over a year and we have already launched three different sized bottles, added another flavour and created a range of complementary products, including a gin curd (a byproduct of our Tawny Orange Gin), hand painted glasswear, gift packs and we are shortly launching our own orange liquor truffles (this is another byproduct of Tawny Orange Gin).
We have also created HootFruit, a range of 7 dried fruits (oranges, ruby grapefruit, lemons, limes strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) that you keep in your cupboard with a long shelf life that can come to the rescue as a handy garnish at any time. We are particularly proud that this product has received national attention, including from Morrisons.
However, there hasn’t been a month since we started where we haven’t faced a challenge, but we see that as part of the learning process and the excitement of owning your own business.
Sometimes it can knock you back, but there is such a wonderful and supportive community in the Norfolk food and drink industry that there is always someone who is willing to offer advice or support.
Tips on how to use their gin
We are passionate about our mantra – What’s Your Hoot? By that we mean that there is no perfect way to serve our gin! Obviously, we know how we like it but we realised very early on that everyone loves their gin a different way, so rather than try and persuade people to bend to our tastes, we are really keen to learn how they create their own drink.
The one thing we do always recommend however, is HootFruit as a garnish – it really is fabulous to drop in a few dried berries and a slice of dried lime and see it transform your drink into something really special.
The Future for WhataHoot
We want to carry on growing. We are literally bursting with ideas that we sometimes have to stop and take a breath or we would run away with ourselves. We see the only limitation is our time – there just aren’t enough hours in the day, but rest assured we are always cooking up new ideas. So this is only the start of the WhataHoot story….