As the county lifts out of lockdown, North Yorkshire County Council is supporting local businesses to get back on their feet.
Chair of the Council Cllr Jim Clark has been travelling around North Yorkshire visiting local businesses and volunteers getting back to normal after Covid-19.
Although restrictions are still in place, North Yorkshire is learning to live and work under a “new normal” set of circumstances.
In Hunmanby, Cllr Clark visited the Community Fridge, the Spring Café and Hunmanby in Bloom – along with Spirit of Yorkshire, a whisky distillery.
The distillery grows its own barley in Hunmanby on the family farm before distilling it into single malt whisky.
David Thompson, Director of Spirit of Yorkshire, said: “Spirit of Yorkshire is an extension of a working farm and brewery – Wold Top Brewery.
“The first part of the brewing and whisky distilling processes are almost identical, so it seemed to really make sense. Some of the best malting barley grows around here on the Yorkshire Wolds, too.
“So about four and a half years ago we set up. It takes years to distil whisky, so you have to be in it for the long run, but now we have a product selling and bottled. We export across Europe and further afield, too.”
Cllr Clark, said he was “very impressed” with the Spirit of Yorkshire: “That’s a weighty seal of approval from a Scot.
“It’s brilliant to see such a local operation thriving and getting back on its feet after Covid-19.
“The fact that it’s locally grown barley and water from a local source makes me even more proud to have visited.
“North Yorkshire has an excellent reputation worldwide for top-quality produce, from cheese to lamb, beef, sausages, beer, gin and now whisky.”
David and his business partner, Tom, met in the 1980s when David would buy barley from him, and they’ve been friends ever since.
Mostly, Scotland buys barley from Yorkshire or Lincolnshire for its whisky industry – and the pair are glad to keep it from field to bottle all in the county.
David added: “It’s not just a whisky business, it’s helping the tourism industry, too, because people want tours of the distillery. We’ve had 35,000 people through the doors since we opened.
“We have a coffee shop, too, which we’ve reopened safely after Covid-19 and I think we are busier now than ever.”
Unfortunately, David and Tom were forced to furlough a number of staff during lockdown, but because they can distil themselves they could keep Spirit of Yorkshire going before bringing their staff back.
David said: “When we started we wanted to learn everything, so we knew how to distil.”