There’s a growing artisan gin scene in Cumbria, with a number of small batch distilleries across the county providing a unique juniper taste that’s enhanced by the local waters. We’re bringing you a guide to the best Lake District gin distilleries around, from small local distilleries to shops selling 400 varieties! Many offer tastings and their own on-site shops so you can sample the wares before taking a bottle (or two!) away to share with friends or to enjoy back home.
And, seeing as you’re in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, why not combine your visit with a walk through some stunning scenery? Many of these distilleries are on popular Lake District walking routes so you can treat yourself after your exertions.
Don’t forget to take a look at our lovely holiday cottages - some of which are right on the doorstep of our favourite distilleries!
The Lakes Distillery, Bassenthwaite
Image credit: The Lakes Distillery
The Lakes Distillery, just outside Cockermouth, creates some of the best known Lake District gin, including its flagship item, The Lakes Gin, and flavoured offerings such as damson gin and rhubarb and rosehip gin. Built in a restored Victorian model farm, primarily as a whiskey distillery, The Lakes Distillery offers tours and tastings of all three of its products: whiskey, vodka and, of course, gin. A short distance from the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake, they hold a strong commitment to their responsibility for the landscape and their people.
After your tour, browse the extensive gift shop to take your favourites home. You can also book a table at the restaurant for a delicious meal.
Combine with a nearby walk: Sale Fell
Distance: 4.5 miles
Sale Fell offers a relatively easy mountain walk with gorgeous views over Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwentwater, and the distant sea to the west. Less well known than other fells in this region, it’s a real hidden gem where you can escape the crowds and still be rewarded by stupendous views.
You can head around the base of the mountain, or for the summit after parking near St Margaret’s Church in Wythop Mill. Descend through Wythop Woods, exiting behind the Pheasant Inn, then cross the A66 (please take care as this is a busy road). After a short distance walking on a twisting country road, you’ll turn left opposite Bassenthwaite Sailing Club and follow the path through fields to the distillery.
Shed One Distillery, Ulverston
Shed One Distillery has won a plethora of awards for both its gins and for its events and attractions. Launched by a husband and wife team from their garden shed, the company's first-ever gin was the quirkily named Cuckold’s Revenge!
Nowadays, their gin distillery is in a much larger ‘shed’: The Old Calf Shed on the edge of Ulverston Canal, in fact. The range has also increased, with around 10 different gins available throughout the year, including an exciting collaboration with Masterchef champion Irini Tzortzoglou.
What about the distillery's award-winning experiences? Well, you can enjoy a gin afternoon tea (known as a G&Tea), Cumbria’s only ‘make your own gin’ experience, Cocktails and Cakes and, of course, the all-important gin tour.
Combine with a nearby walk: Hoad Hill
Distance: 2 miles
From Ford Park in the centre of Ulverston, follow the Tree Trail north east until you reach Hoad Lane. Turn left onto the road then take a right almost immediately onto the path up Hoad Hill. Follow the route left at the fork and continue onwards and upwards until you reach the lighthouse-like Hoad Monument at the summit.
From here, the view stretches on for an eternity over beautiful Morecambe Bay and towards the Lake District in the opposite direction. On your way back down, follow the path through fields and back down to the park. Walking alongside the park, make your way to the main road, and cross the A590 and onto North Lonsdale Terrace.
Ulverston is also the home of Wolftown, which creates two small-batch London dry gins, both of which have won awards. The Signature Gin and the Citrus Gin are both noted for a taste that reduces the dominance of juniper and allows other flavours to shine.
Though Wolftown doesn’t have dedicated store or distillery in the town, you can catch them at a number of local Cumbrian fairs and events such as the annual Dickensian Festival and Taste Cumbria. Look out for it in local pubs and restaurants too, such as Rogan & Co, a nearby Michelin-starred Lake District restaurant and The Royal Oak in Cartmel (pictured).
Combine with a nearby walk: The Cumbria Way
The Cumbria Way is a long-distance footpath stretching from Carlisle in the north of the county to Ulverston in the south. For a full day, set off from Coniston village and follow the route for 16 miles south all the way alongside the lake, through stunning scenery, and down to your finishing point. This option is only for seasoned walkers, but you’ll certainly deserve a sip of gin at the end of it all!
If you fancy something a little easier on the legs, why not set off from Ulverston itself, following the river north and onto wooded paths? Go as far as you like along the signposted Cumbria Way before retracing your footsteps back to the centre of town.
Chestnut House, Pooley Bridge
Chestnut House near The Crown Inn in Pooley Bridge is a gin-lover’s dream. This unassuming shop stocks around 400 types of gins at any one time, many of which you can sample before you take home. As well as lots of local Cumbrian gins, you’ll find weird and wonderful bottles from all around the country.
Chestnut House also has its very own Lake District gin: Cumberland Saucy Gin. This Great Taste 2 Star Award-winning gin is inspired by Cumberland Sauce, with subtle flavours of redcurrant, orange peel, peppercorns and mustard.
You can also stock up on other local delicacies at the store, which sells a range of food and drink products. Make sure you stock up on plenty of food and gifts from the Lake District before you leave this wonderful shop! Find more things to do in Pooley Bridge.
Combine with a nearby walk: The Cockpit Stone Circle
Distance: 5 miles
The fell of Moor Divock is literally covered in history, with numerous ancient monuments scattered across the hillside. The most prominent and impressive of these is the Cockpit Stone Circle, which is thousands of years old and made up of around 30 standing stones.
From the village of Pooley Bridge, follow a road called High Street out past a caravan park and onto the footpath. It’s a fairly obvious route from here: just follow the track all the way to the stone circle. You could take some time at the top to see how many other monuments you can discover, or just sit back and admire the views of the lake and High Street, an ancient Roman road.
When you’re ready, you can either head back down the way you came, or continue up a little further to Heughscar Hill before descending, via a network of winding paths, towards Pooley Bridge.
Cartmel Drinkshop, Cartmel
With a focus on small-production artisan makers and regional liqueurs, Cartmel Drinkshop is a go-to for a special bottle or a stand-out gift. Located in Unsworth’s Yard in the heart of Cartmel, they stock plenty of quality gins (and other wines and spirits) from around the world, which you can “try before you buy”. Sit out in the courtyard and sample some of their incredible selection while the sun shines!
Combine with a nearby walk: Hampsfell
Distance: 3.5 miles
This lovely walk from the gorgeous village of Cartmel takes in farmland, sea views, Lake District mountains, and some fascinating buildings. It’s full of interest and a great walk out before you sample some gins.
From the village, head east towards and through Pit Farm before the path starts to gradually climb. Continue upwards before turning left and heading towards the Hampsfell peak, where you’ll enjoy a splendid panoramic viewpoint. Up here is also Hampsfell Hospice, a shelter built in 1846 that has a fantastic viewfinder on top so you can identify the distant mountains.
Heading back down, you follow the path through a farm and onto the road, where you turn left and return to Cartmel. Please be aware that there are no pavements on this road until you’re back in the village.
Grasmere Brewery and Distillery, Grasmere
The Grasmere Brewery and Distillery can be found in the heart of Grasmere, one of the Lake District’s prettiest villages. Close to the lakeshore, it occupies characterful converted farm buildings and creates its signature hand-made gins from natural ingredients from the local area and around the world.
Though tours aren’t available of the distillery itself, they do have an excellent tap room nearby, The Good Sport, where you can relax with a meal and one of their signature gins that include dry, Blood Orange and Pink Berry.
Combine with a nearby walk: Grasmere and Rydal
Distance: 5.5 miles
Beginning in the centre of Grasmere village, circling two small lakes, and returning to your starting point, this is a perfect circular walk to grow your appetite for when you stop at The Good Sport for your gin cocktail!
From the centre of the village, head east onto the coffin route, which eventually comes around behind Rydal Mount and Gardens, the former home of William Wordsworth. From here you head down to cross the road (take care as it is busy and there is a nearby blind corner). Follow the path to the far side of Rydal Water and then continue along the lakeshore of this lake and neighbouring Grasmere until you end up back in the village.
Wild Sheep Distillery, Keswick
Image credit: Jo Crompton
Remaining steadfastly and deliberately unawarded so that “you can choose your favourite, not someone else’s”, the Wild Sheep Distillery in Keswick sells a range of colourful gins as well as rums, whiskeys, vodka and limoncello. You’ll find favourite gin flavours such as elderflower and dry, as well as more unusual inventions like baked apple pie and chocolate cherry.
Though the Wild Sheep Distillery doesn’t offer gin tours specifically, you can still pop into their shop to pick up a bottle and - if you’re in luck - may find the sills running. The owners are happy to chat anyway, so you can learn all about their processes.
Combine with a nearby walk: Friar’s Crag
Distance: 1.5 miles
There are plenty of scenic Keswick walks to choose from, but how about something nice and relaxed before you head out for some gin? From the centre of town, wander down to the lakeshore through pretty Hope Park. Once you reach the water, turn left and follow the clear, wide path all the way along to the bench that sits on the outcrop of rock known as Friar’s Crag. From here, you can look out towards the imposing Jaws of Borrowdale - an impressive sight over the still waters of Derwenwater.
To get back to the distillery, simply retrace your footsteps and enjoy the excellent views all over again!
Herdwick Distillery, Kendal
Part of Lakeland Artisan, an award-winning food and drink producer, the Herdwick Distillery creates hand-crafted, small-batch gins that are top quality. Every bottle is created and bottled in Cumbria, making it a truly local product!
Their first Yan Gin was soon followed up by a range of flavours including berry, maramalade and strawberry, and you can find the tasty flavours at their shops in Kendal and Keswick, as well as at numerous farmers markets and events across the Lake District.
Though you won’t be able to take a tour around their distillery, we’re sure you’ll still be more than happy to sample the products!
Combine with a nearby walk: Kendal Fell
The meandering paths up Kendal Fell give you plenty of options for a short hill walk. You can start at the Lakeland Artisan Shop and make your way towards the top around the edge of the golf course and through the popular yet peaceful Serpentine Woods.
Take your time as you head up to the summit where you can enjoy views over the town and the lesser-known valleys of Longsleddale and Kentmere. The undefined nature of this walk - thanks to the winding and multiple paths - means that you can really enjoy a relaxing hike at your own pace before you drop back down into Kendal and sample some of the delicious Lake District gins on offer at the Herdwick Distillery!
More gin from the Lake District
- Bedrock Gin by Spirit of the Lakes is a Lake District-made premium dry gin distilled with oak bark. Find it in speciality shops such as Chestnut House.
- Bert and Ernie’s Bar in Keswick is a dog-friendly gin bar stocking a small selection of local gins.
- Look out for occasional Lake District gin cruises on the Ullswater ‘Steamers’.
If you’ve had a good day of gin shopping, you’re probably ready to head back to your holiday cottage, sit back and try out your purchases. Make sure you have the perfect holiday home to return to from our selection of beautiful Lake District cottages.
Note: All walking suggestions are summaries only. Please prepare fully before setting out and make sure you take a map, compass, and other necessary navigation equipment. Remember to wear suitable clothing and footwear. Distances given for each walk are approximate.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.