WHISKY and gin are to be produced near York, with the opening of a new distillery later this year.

Abbie Neilson and her fiancée Chris Jaume are setting up Cooper King Distillery and a shop and tasting room in a converted stable block at Sutton-on-the-Forest.

The couple moved from Yorkshire to Australia in 2014 but are returning to launch their own business.

They learnt the craft while in Tasmania and say they were inspired by the rapid growth of the whisky industry in Australia.

The couple will produce whisky using Yorkshire barley and casks made in Wetherby by master cooper Alistair Simms.

They will also plant more than 400 trees for a new woodland and orchard to support wildlife around the distillery and grow fruit for seasonal products.

They say they hope to help raise the profile of English whisky generally and also plan to host events and tours.

Mr Jaume said: “Our production process will be very hands-on, so we want people to see it for themselves and ask questions about what goes into our spirit and why.”

Dr Neilson, originally from York, added: “Keeping our production small means we can source premium ingredients, take our time with the process and use the very best casks can we can find.

“It also allows us the freedom to experiment with one-off limited batches.”

Funds have been raised partly through their own crowdfunding project, the Cooper King Distillery Founders Club, and the couple also received funding from the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and the European Regional Development Fund.