The Story of Mr Hobbs Gin
“There’s nothing more marvellous than a gin at 11 o’clock on the river to wake the spirits”
In 1870 Mr. Harry Hobbs, founder of Hobbs and Sons (now Hobbs of Henley) and publican of The Ship Hotel was renowned throughout the town for his flamboyant beard and high-spirited nature. He was often seen in his punt around 11am enjoying his home-distilled gin.
Frequently spotted sipping from his unique glass or his wood-rimmed drinking flask, Mr Hobbs was forever throwing river parties along the banks of the Thames in Henley. He also hired out his boats for like-minded members of the public to host their own shindigs.
When perusing the Hobbs of Henley business archives, records pointed us towards the rumours that Harry had been distilling his own gin back in the day and it inspired our journey to follow in his footsteps.
We started to investigate local botanicals and embark on creating our own gin as a salute to the man who started it all and to mark the 150th anniversary of the family business, Hobbs of Henley.
Today we are very proud to share our cherished family tipples with you and raise a glass of Mr Hobbs Gin to our Henley heritage.
Hobbs is a Henley institution, as inextricably linked with the genteel Oxfordshire town as the world-famous Royal Regatta. Established by H.E. (Harry) Hobbs in 1870, it is a family business through and through.
The present Managing Director, Jonathan Hobbs, is the great, great grandson of the founder. Indeed the Hobbs family doesn’t do things by half, being able to trace its ancestry through the direct male line back to 1490 – another Harry Hobbs of Hambleden!
Hobbs of Henley’s first base was in Wharfe Lane, at the town’s original riverside wharfe, but a move to new premises in Station Road followed in 1898. The company is still there today. Business boomed, pleasure boating on the Thames thrived and further boatyards were acquired at Goring and Shiplake.
Hobbs of Henley now boasts the largest hire fleet on the River Thames, owning over 60 boats which range from rowing boats to luxury passenger vessels. With 150 years of boating experience, the 5th generation family business is still thriving.
Mr Hobbs Gin portfolio of products was launched in 2017 by Jonnie and Suzy Hobbs, Directors of Hobbs of Henley, who give you the most enjoyable way to “mess about on the river” whether it is in a small rowing boat or on one of their prestigious luxury river cruisers.
Jonnie and Suzy started by launching a new premium gin in 2017 to play their part in the remarkable renaissance in British gin. Distilled from only the most refined ingredients, Mr Hobbs Gin is in keeping with their brands reputation, and is a unique extension of the Hobbs’ family business. They went on to launch two Fruit Flavoured Gin Liqueurs and most recently their Mr Hobbs 150; A classic London Dry Gin with quintessential English heritage to mark the 150-year anniversary of Hobbs of Henley.
Henley hosts some of England’s most important and exclusive cultural events such as Henley Royal Regatta, Henley Music & Arts Festival, Henley Literary Festival. Jonnie and Suzy felt that such a great town deserved its own special collection of gins, so they created products worthy of the Henley name.
Sustainability in the drinks business is something that is very close to our hearts and an issue we continue to reassess and do our bit to improve. We have moved away from all single use plastic in the events we attend and tastings we carry out, opting rather for a recyclable material and being conscious of the various elements that go into our bottling and labelling process. Our bottle is made from glass and is 100% recyclable. We only use cardboard packaging and no longer use plastic bubble wrap, opting for a more eco-friendly and recyclable brown paper.
Our parent company Hobbs of Henley is also putting more and more focus every year on how we can give back to the river on which our family business is built. Here is a quote from Managing Director, Jonathan Hobbs, on the attitudes and principles we continue to demonstrate:
‘’Our long-term strategy is to continue to be the best providers of boat rental on the Thames, develop new experiences for our customers and to explore reducing the environmental impact of leisure boating. We have a strong ethos of collaborating with local partners to maximise the benefits to the local economy and fellow river businesses to ensure the Thames, our natural resource, continues to flourish.’’
Make the most of those empties
There are also many other novel ways to reuse your bottle that we have seen in the past; everything from candle holder to lamp. We love seeing how our fabulous customers choose to reuse. If you have an example of an upcycled Mr Hobbs Gin bottle please do send to firstname.lastname@example.org as we would love to share.
Less bottles, more tipples
Furthermore, if you want to be a little kinder on the environment as well as your bank balance Mr Hobbs Gin is proud to offer a nifty little refill service. If you bring your empty Mr Hobbs Gin bottles down to Hobbs of Henley Ltd Boatyard (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) we will refill it for £30.