Finalists Announced at Northern Restaurant & Bar Cocktail Competition with Whitley Neill Dry Gin

Whitley Neill - Gin and Tonic

Finalists announced for the Northern Restaurant & Bar’s annual cocktail competition, sponsored by Whitley Neill Dry Gin, with the chance to win a once in a lifetime VIP visit to South Africa.

Competitors have been asked to submit one unique drink, containing a minimum of 35 ml of any Whitley Neill Dry Gin expression, and adding inspiration of the gin’s South Africa influence.

Four finalists, chosen by a blind judging panel of gin experts including founder Johnny Neill, have been chosen, and they include;

Thomas Gedney-Higham, Bibi’s Italianissimo, Leeds
Bettina Kovacs, Dishoom, Edinburgh
Jenny Griffiths, Ten Mill Lane, Cardiff
Lükas Alberti, Three Six Six (Battersea), London

Each finalist will be invited to the final of the competition at Northern Restaurant & Bar in Manchester on Wednesday 22nd March 2016 at 3:15pm. The competition is hosted by Dave Marsland aka Drinks Enthusiast and Halewood Wines & Spirits, the distributors for Whitley Neill Dry Gin, and compared by spirit writer Joel Harrison.

The winner will visit South Africa in late 2017 as the guest of Whitley Neill Dry Gin, which has previously beaten off the challenge from the World’s finest gin brands by winning gold at San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2014. The visit will also include a 1 day safari.

Northern Restaurant & Bar is the biggest hospitality show in the North. The show’s Spirit Room is the largest curated selection of spirit brands on show outside London. As well as the Casco Viejo cocktail competition, the Drinks Live theatre features a line-up of tutored tastings and masterclasses from some of the best names in the business. Tickets are free to anyone actively working in the hospitality industry, register now at


Whitley Neill Tasting Notes

Whitley Neill

Johnny Neill has done a fantastic job in creating a gin that is not only unique, but also reminds him of his love of Africa. With Johnny a part of the Greenall Whitley distilling family, fourth generation to be exact, he decided back in 2004 to form his own company Whitley Neill Limited, and a year later released Whitley Neill gin. But how did this all come about?

Well first of all, as mentioned above, Johnny comes from a family that know a lot about the production of gin. The name Greenall may ring a bell to you as Johnny’s ancestor Thomas Greenall formed Greenall Whitley in Warrington back in 1762. With his father the Director of the distillery and the brewery, and Great grandfather the Managing Director and Great Uncle the Chairman, Johnny felt natural in continuing in the line of work.

So what makes Whitley Neill so unique then?

Whitley Neill is a traditionally distilled London Dry Gin, with Johnnie using a small antique copper pot still ‘Constance’. In a nod to Johnnie’s wife and her South African heritage, he uses two unique African botanicals in the fruit of the Baobab tree and Cape Gooseberries (Physalis), alongside juniper, coriander, lemon & orange peel, angelica root, cassia bark and orris root. These botanicals are steeped with 100% grain spirit and then distilled within the century old copper pot still to create his London Dry gin. All this happens within an independent distillery based near Birmingham.

So how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Whitley Neill – 42%

Clean on the nose with subtle soft aromas of citrus and gooseberry. Very soft once onto the palate, with a developing flavour of citrus, fresh flesh fruit and a slight spice. The mix causes a bold, lingering finish.

Whitley Neill Gin and Tonic
Whitley Neill Gin and Tonic

My preferred way of drinking Whitley Neill would be straight up, or add a cube of ice. Perhaps maybe a gin and tonic with a slice of orange or grapefruit to garnish. Or maybe ask your bartender for one of these simple creations –

Whitley Martini

Glass –


Ingredients –

60 ml Whitley Neill
10 ml Bianco Vermouth

Method – 

Pour the Whitley Neill gin and the vermouth over ice into a boston shaker glass. Shake well to chill, then stir and strain into a martini glass. Add a length of lemon peel or an olive if preferred.

Simple, exotic! Johhny has done the gin category proud, offering the world, and yourself, something a little bit different. And it shows, winning Double Gold at the 2007 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and Gold medals at the International Wine and Spirits Competition and the Chicago Beverage Testing Institute. This year it also won itself Gold in the Internationl Spirits Challenge 2013 Super Premium Category. To cap it off, 5p from the sale of each bottle goes to Tree Aid in Africa to help with the reforestation efforts. 

Not bad, not bad at all.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.