Cooper-King Distillery, York

Chris Jaume & Abbie Nielsen: Founders

I am from Hastings but my family connections with Yorkshire go back a long way – to the 11th century, when my ancestor’s arms were carved into the stones of Ripon Cathedral. We have used those arms in the logo of our new craft distillery near York.

As a kid I loved playing with Lego and decided at about the age of six that I wanted to be an architect. I did my B.Arch in Leeds, and my Master’s in Newcastle, from where boozy student trips to Edinburgh gave me a taste for whisky.

I finished my Part 3 with a massive student loan to pay off and an ambition to travel the world, so I set off with my partner Abbie and we ended up in Tasmania, where we were surprised to find a thriving craft whisky distilling industry. We thought “We could do that” and armed with loads of tips from our new friends in Tas, we returned to the UK and set up Cooper King in Abbie’s dad’s paddock, in a building I designed myself

Three years on we are nearly ready to bottle our first whisky, although we could just stick to Abbie’s amazingly successful botanical gins which we have been producing while we wait to be able to call our spirit whisky. But that would be to renege on our dream of producing the world’s first carbon negative whisky, distilled from Yorkshire barley and matured in casks of Yorkshire oak.