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The Lickerish Tooth Distillery – weird and wonderful gin making in Lythe near Whitby

Whilst helping renovate a cottage in Staithes over the last week, I have been forced to make a number of trips down the coast road to Whitby to the tip. It’s a journey I have done a few times before but I had never noticed before an old stone garage building with gin making equipment and a strange we are open sign by the side of the road in the village of Lythe.

On my way back today, I stopped off to find out what it was all about and found a really fascinating (if slightly weird) place with a great story. I met Steven Donnelly one of the Directors who explained the story behind this little independent distillery.

When I walked into the building, as well as lots of vintage distillery items, there were life size models of Plague Doctors with their beak shaped masks. Steven explained that he had come up with the plan to start the business in 2014 with a mate called Pete. Plague Doctors used to wear masks called Pest Masks, so taking the Pe from Pete and St from Steven it spelt Pest!

A Plague theme started to come together. As Steven explained “Lickerish Tooth Distillery was born from the minds of two drunk men who wanted to create something different”.

They wanted drinks that didn’t taste or look like others on the market. They wanted to be different and unique and above all “a little bit strange!”. In 2014 the distillery was born.

They moved to Lythe in September 2019 as they needed more space, and started 3 months of renovation installing new stills.

The décor of the place definitely ticks the “little bit strange” theme and I am sure it won’t do any harm if they can get some of Whitby’s goths and steam punks along to the distillery.

The name Lickerish tooth is a play on Liquor as opposed to liquorice you’ll be pleased to hear!

They have 4 basics gins all made and bottled on-site:

Sheep’s Eye Gin – a dry London Gin style using a range of 10 carefully selected complimentary botanicals

Ginger Ninja – which uses a subtle mix of botanicals but a warm, spicy gingery finish. It was apparently Steven’s nick name at school!

Gin XX – uses pink peppercorns and lemon peel, vanilla, cherry and cocoa nibs to provide their take on a pink gin

The Harbinger (Limited Edition) – a 57% Navy strength gin

I treated myself to a bottle of Sheep’s Eye Gin, and now its been sampled I can actually highly recommend it being a fan of a good dry gin.

They have just launched some small liqueur sized bottles including a chocolate vodka and apple liqueur.

What I did discover was a bench set up with a number of mini stills. Steven explained that even with Covid-19 they can still run socially distanced Gin Making Courses. Attendees can choose from 48 different botanicals to flavour their gin and they wold then record the exact recipe of that person’s gin. That means that they could make and supply that person an exact copy of their gin when they run out.

I still didn’t understand where the Distillery name had come from, but strangely it comes from the musical Guys and Dolls. Apparently there is a line which goes “Standing there, gazing at you, with a sheep’s eye and a lickerish tooth”.

So there you go, a great find and I can’t wait to book and experience a Gin making experience and bring clients when my driver guiding tours business can start up again. A weird and wonderful brand, an interesting venue and most importantly a great product.

To find out more visit

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