A HOTEL’S restaurant is to be converted into a gin distillery and bar, just in time for Christmas.

The Whitehall Hotel in Darwen has been run by Neil and Tracy Bullows since 2003.

Primarily a venue for weddings and events, Mr Bullows says it has been an institution in the area for more than 50 years, but as with many other businesses within the hospitality sector, the hotel has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Bullows said: “Especially during lockdown, I was concerned about how we could manage to continue to trade our way through to next year.

“The one thing that the Whitehall has always been able to count on is the support of the local community, which was never any more evident during the recent Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

“I thought if we could further build on that business with attracting customers from outside of the area, the Whitehall will stand the test of time.”

Approaching Paul Sheerin, who owns Defiance Spirits based in Oldham, Mr Bullows touted the idea of a gin distillery to his friend, to not only help the hotel, but further expand the Defiance Spirits brand, which includes gins and rums.

Mr Sheerin agreed to assist the Whitehall with their plans and the former restaurant area is currently being converted into a gin distillery, with a bar and seating area, and a space for gin-making classes to take place.

Once complete, the Whitehall will also be able to offer dishes from their ‘ginstronomy’ menu, which will match botanicals with food from regional suppliers.

Mrs Bullows said: “We are very excited about the next chapter of the Whitehall’s history, and Paul and Neil have promised to develop a premium London gin for the community to embrace.

“With that in mind we will be donating a percentage of the sales of our Jubilee range to assist in the local improvements and maintenance of the local parks."