An award-winning distillery and cocktail bar is opening at Sunny Bank Mills, the iconic Yorkshire mill complex at Farsley between Leeds and Bradford.
John Robert’s Botanic Request is moving into the mill’s historic Twisting building, which is currently being comprehensively renovated.

The cocktail bar, called the Test Bar, will open its doors to the public on November 5.

During the past ten years Sunny Bank Mills, one of the most famous family-owned mills in Yorkshire, has been transformed into a modern office and mixed-use retail and leisure complex for the 21st century, creating 400 sustainable new jobs.

Ben Peel, co-founder of John Robert’s Botanic Request with his partner Emelie Nilsson, explained: “Once we had decided to relocate from nearby Stanningley, we viewed numerous sites but when we stepped into the Twisting, it instantly felt just right for our brand and concept for a distillery and cocktail bar.

“As a good bar is all about atmosphere, environment and hosting, it was hard not to ignore the beautiful panoramic views looking over the mill’s courtyard and grounds. We also loved that it was tucked away at the back of the mill complex. It had a feeling that it could become Farsley’s best kept secret, somewhere you could meander away from the day-to-day and step into somewhere quite unique for an exceptional gin or a well-made cocktail.

“Our brand is all about celebrating the exceptionalism in people, as it is this that makes them unique, and when we thought long and hard about the history of the space, and the craftsmanship of the people whom have worked in there over the years, it made even more sense that this was to be the new home for John Robert’s Botanic Request.

“After meeting some of the fabulous residents and amazing businesses within Sunny Bank Mills, we became very excited at the idea of becoming a part of this amazing line-up and we are very much looking forward to becoming a part of the Farsley neighbourhood and community. It’s impossible to ignore how beautiful this mill is.”

Ben paid tribute to William and John Gaunt, the joint owners and managing directors of Sunny Bank, saying: “They were welcoming, nurturing and caring at every turn and have put our business at the heart of everything, ensuring our needs are fully accommodated. Just dealing with them is always a pleasure. As a brand, we celebrate people and when we met William and John, their character and personalities just shone through.”

John Robert’s Botanic Request is 17 months old and has picked up multiple awards since it was founded. The new premises will enable expanded production to supply increasing demand, including a new export deal to the United States.

Ben concluded: “We are very much looking forward to opening this new space where we can offer bespoke and unique gin and cocktail masterclasses in the distillery whilst testing bedding new spirits, cocktails and liquid innovations on the cocktail bar for the public.”

William Gaunt commented: “The regeneration of the Twisting is another piece in the jigsaw in the regeneration of Sunny Bank Mills. Once the renovation is completed in October, it will be a tremendously stimulating space in the heart of our mill complex.

“So it is fitting that a new occupier with such an exciting offering as John Robert’s Botanic Request is making the Twisting its home. We are delighted to welcome Ben and Emelie to our ever-growing retail and leisure community at Sunny Bank Mills.

“There’s no doubt that gin and cocktails are incredibly popular these days and we have every confidence that Ben and Emilie’s business will prove very successful. We wish them the very best of luck.”
Part of a £1m regeneration of the three-storey Twisting will be completed shortly. This phase of the redevelopment is creating four bespoke creative and retail units. All these units are pre-let.