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Demand grows for spirits packed with character

Poetic License, based in Sunderland, is one of a growing number of independent small batch distilleries starting to enjoy success. 

The distillery’s vodka and two gins, all individually bottled, wrapped and labelled by hand, are now being stocked in dozens of bars, hotels and retailers across the North East

The business, which produces around 400 bottles per week, is the brainchild of Mark Hird, who has more than 25 years’ experience in leisure and hospitality, including a stand-alone microbrewery, which he launched in 2012.

“The recent revival in gin has been astounding,” said Mark  “I noticed demand climbing and spotted a gap in the market for high quality, artisanal spirits that mixed traditional techniques with modern flavours and set about bringing my vision to life.”

After attending a comprehensive course in distilling, Mark invested in a 500L pot still and recruited a passionate, full-time distiller to help create the perfect blends. 

Months of experimentation followed, with various flavour combinations and processes being discounted, before the duo were finally able to settle on three core products - and the Poetic License distillery was born.

Four months on and the distillery’s Northern Dry Gin (43.2% ABV), Old Tom Gin (41.6% ABV) and Graceful Vodka (40.4% ABV), are already being stocked in bars, hotels and restaurants across the North East, including popular cocktail bars As You Like It and Floritas in Newcastle, as well as the four star Wynyard Hall Hotel, County Durham. 

All three products are also available to buy in high-end, regional department stores, including Fenwick Newcastle and Lewis & Cooper Northallerton, with moves now being made to find stockists and distributors nationwide.

“The name Poetic License symbolises our desire to break away from the norm. To create a drink that blurs the traditional with the unconventional and appeals to those imperfect perfectionists who want to enjoy a tipple that has been carefully crafted and packed with character.

“We’re delighted that so many leisure operators and retailers have already been able to embrace this philosophy and appreciate the unique style of our spirits and hope that more across the UK will soon follow suit.”

After mastering gin and vodka, Mark and his distiller Luke Smith, are now planning to develop limited edition flavours and extend their range with the addition of a dark and white rum and an absinthe.

More information about these products and Poetic License can be found at Trade sales enquiries can also be directed to Luke Smith on 0191 5103564 or

24 February 2016 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor