Scottish Gin

Recent years have seen a gin renaissance, and in the country best known for its whisky, there has been a rise in the number of artisan distilleries producing gin. These small, craft distillers use natural resources and botanicals from their local environment to produce small batches of quality gin that reflect the beauty and atmosphere of their distinctive surroundings.

Summerhall Distillery, Edinburgh - EH9 1PL

(Pickering's Gin)

Distilled at the Summerhall Distillery, Edinburgh’s first gin distillery for over 150 years – the distillery is situated on the site of an old veterinary hospital known as the Dick Vet. A tour of the distillery gives an insight into how a hand crafted gin is produced and offers the chance of sampling the gin at the different distilling stages. Pickering’s Gin, based on an original Bombay recipe from 1947, contains a unique fusion of botanicals and grain that are gently blended then simmered together to produce a wonderfully crisp, well balanced gin.

Tasting Tip - Best served with a good tonic and a slice of pink grapefruit Guided tours and tastings are available by appointment

Edinburgh Gin Distillery, Edinburgh -  EH1 2AD

(Edinburgh Gin)

Edinburgh Gin is a small family owned distillery tucked under the stairs at Rutland Place in the centre of Edinburgh.  Offering tours and tastings visitors can watch graduates from Heriot-Watt University, who run the distillery as part of a knowledge transfer program, make various types of gin using the two 140 litre stills – Caledonia, the tall, elegant still and Flora, the rotund pot still.  Claiming to offer a ‘taste of Edinburgh’ the original EG gin has a full juniper hue complemented with heathery notes and is bottled in the distinctive bottle inspired by the Scottish Art Deco movement of the 1920’s. As the popularity of Edinburgh Gin has grown they have expanded their range by infusing the original Edinburgh Gin with Perthshire raspberries and elderflowers previously macerated in pure sugar cane to make Raspberry Gin and Elderflower Gin. There is also a higher proof gin called Cannon Ball Gin for that extra kick!  The three distillery tours on offer are: Gin Discovery, Gin Connoisseur and the magical Gin Making Experience where there is the opportunity to make your own one-off custom gin in baby stills especially crafted for that purpose. 

Tasting Tip – With a good tonic and slice of lemon

Strathleven Distillery, Vale of Leven, Dumbarton, Glasgow - G82 3PD

(Gilt Gin)

Close to the ‘bonnie banks of Loch Lomond’ in the Vale of Leven is the small distillery that produces Gilt Gin. Distilled in a bespoke copper still, referred to as ‘Donald's Troosers', this sophisticated single malt gin is distilled using only 100% malt barley combined with the water of the River Spey and botanicals that give a dry taste with a hint of juniper and cardamom.  Each batch is distilled by one of the founding partners using knowledge and experience that includes combining traditional processes with some interesting twists such as a secret charcoal filtration process that perfects and finishes the 15 bubble plate distillation that achieves the singularly distinctive spirit that is Gilt Gin.   Tours are strictly by appointment only.

Tasting Tip -  With a good tonic and a twist of either lime or lemon.

Dunnet Bay Distillery, Dunnet Bay, Highlands, KW14 8XD

(Rock Rose Gin)

Dunnet Bay Distillery, home to Rock Rose Gin, is nestled beside the sweeping sandy beach and dunes at Dunnet Bay and is the most northerly distillery on mainland Scotland. The first batch was distilled on 17th August 2014 after husband and wife team Martin and Claire Murray experimented by vapour infusing over 80 traditional and local botanicals to perfect their recipe. They named their gin after their first botanical forage along the Caithness cliffs, where they discovered a rose in the rocks. 
The delicate floral note of Rock Rose derives from the locally harvested Rhodiola rosea, commonly known as rose root, which grows on exposed cliffs in a cool climate.  Sea buckthorn grows along the coastline too, and adds a crisp and fruity taste to the gin from its vitamin C rich fruit.  These together with Rowan berries, blaeberry, cardamom, coriander seed and verbena are just a few of the botanicals that make the secret recipe of Rock Rose handcrafted spirit. While each year will herald a new vintage as local botanicals are dependent on the climate and will subtly change year on year, the distinctive designed ceramic bottle of Rock Rose Gin will remain the same.  The Tours are by appointment: April to October

Tasting tips - With a good tonic (1:2) with a sprig of rosemary
                     With a good tonic (1:3) with a curl of orange peel.

Arbikie Highland Distillery, Arbraoth, Angus - DD11 4UZ

(Kirsty's Gin)

Arbikie is a family owned single estate distillery run by fourth generation Scottish farmers. Situated on their 2000-acre farm in Angus, stretching out to Lunan Bay on the east coast of Scotland. The three brothers use potatoes grown and harvested on their own land to distil their award winning Kirsty’s Gin. The traditional juniper base is supplemented with local botanic kelp, carline thistle and blaeberrys, all of which grow wild. Named after master distiller Kirsty Black the gin took two years to develop and embodies elements of the ocean, rock and land, reflecting the estate’s environment. The site is a working farm, but visits can be arranged by prior appointment.

Tasting Tip - Take a tall glass fill with ice, a generous measure of Kirsty’s Gin topped with a quality tonic. Garnish with 6 blueberries and a twist of lemon. Stir and enjoy!!

The Walled Garden, Gordon Castle, Fochabers, Moray - IV32 7PQ

(Gordon Castle Gin)

Gordon Castle Gin is a small batch gin produced and distributed by Gordon & MacPhail in partnership with Angus Gordon Lennox, laird of Gordon Castle. Using botanicals grown in the restored Victorian walled garden at Gordon Castle, Speyside, the gin was launched at the Royal Highland Show in 2014. The botanicals, include lavender, garden mint and gooseberry, are carefully blended and slowly distilled to give the gin a crisp, elegant and refreshing character with a warming hint of richness. The Gordon Castle Gin comes in a unique gin bottle design showing herbs collected from the Walled Garden.  Gordon Castle Gin is the brand leader of an ambitious on-going walled garden restoration project that also produces an extensive range of luxury food, drink and beauty products, each containing elements from the walled garden.  The 8 acre Victorian walled garden, shop and café are open all year.

Tasting Tip - Served as a classic martini with a sprig of mint or with a good tonic and lemon, lime and mint garnish

Eden Mill, St Andrews Distillery, St Andrews, Fife - KY16 0UU

(A Range of Handcrafted gins, incl Love, Hop and Oak)

Eden Mill, situated on the picturesque estuary from which it takes it name, first produced whisky in 1810 when owned by the famous Haig whisky family, later converting to a paper mill in 1882. With the closure of the mill in 2008, a micro-brewery was opened in 2012 and in 2014, Eden Mill became Scotland’s first combined brewery and distillery when they started to produce Scotch whisky and crafted gins.  Eden Mill ginsmiths use a vapour infusion method with botanicals suspended in the top of their 1000lt Portuguese pot stills to produce small batches of mostly limited edition gins that capture the very essence of St Andrews four seasons.  Tours bookable on line or by phone.

  • Original Gin – this good all round gin uses lemon balm, citrus peel, marshmallow root, liquorice root and locally collected Sea Buckthorn berries. Tasting Tip - With a good tonic and your choice of citrus fruit
  • Love Gin – the most popular in the range, uses elderberries, raspberry leaves, rhubarb root during the distillation stage later adding hibiscus flowers and rose petal infusions to give a delicate fruity floral taste and subtle pink colour. Tasting Tip - With a splash of pink lemonade and a slice of pink grapefruit
  • Hop Gin - this traditional gin has an infusion of Galaxy New World hops, giving a pale green colour with a hint of amber and smooth, well balanced hoppy flavour. Tasting Tip - With a good tonic and a thin slice of green chilli
  • Oak Gin – this is a traditional gin allowed to age on oak shavings. Tasting Tip - With ginger ale and a slice of orange

Strathearn Distillery, Methven, Perthshire - PH1 3QX

(Heather Rose Gin, Classic Gin, Oaked Highland Gin)

Situated in the majestic Perthshire country, this farm based distillery is the smallest distillery in Scotland, distilling both whisky and gin.  On their Gin Lover Experience discover how this handcrafted, artisan gin is produced using traditional methods.  Enjoy a full tour of the distillery and bond, then appreciate a quite exceptional tasting experience.  Start with tasting various tonics, then various gins. Discover the history of the gin and tonic and learn how to combine the two to make your own personal G & T. Finish off by infusing a bottle of Strathearn based gin with botanics of your choice to make your own ‘signature gin.’
Tours are strictly by appointment only.

Tasting Tips:

  • Heather Rose Gin – this magical gin, which changes to a delicate pink when tonic is added, has a prosecco character. It is light and floral and is best served in a chilled Champagne flute with no slice.
  • Classic Gin – this zesty gin is great in cocktails or on the rocks with a slice of pink grapefruit.
  • Oaked Highland Gin – where whisky meets gin. This smoky gin has a golden hue and is best served in a whisky glass at room temperature.

Gin Bothy,Lintrathen, Angus - DD8 5JJ

(Bothy Gins)

Gin Bothy is made in a distillery housed in an old stone Bothy situated on Peel Farm at the foot of Glenisla in the beautiful Angus Glens. The farm, run by mother and daughter team Frances and Claire, operate a very diverse business that includes a farm shop, furniture barn and coffee shop. The idea for Gin Bothy came from an elderly customer who suggested infusing gin with leftover berry juices from jam making. Using a 17th century Scottish recipe, the gins are made using grain gins from Perthshire and Angus that are infused with the locally grown berries and hand turned every day for approx. three months. The Gin Bothy range includes: Raspberry, Blueberry, Rhubarb, Chilli, Amaretto and Mulled Spices. Peel Farm is open 7 days a week but distillery visits are strictly by appointment only.

Tasting Tips - Raspberry Gin works well with prosecco; Chilli Gin works well with mint and a piece of dark chocolate; Amaretto works neat with ice; Mulled Gin works well with a dash of ginger ale while Blueberry, Rhubarb and Amaretto all work neat with ice.

Harris Distilleries, Tarbert, Isle of Harris, HS3 3DJ

(Harris Gin)

Situated by the shores of East Loch Tarbet, close to the harbour moorings and local pier, a visit to the Isle of Harris Distillery offers an opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn, not only about the distilling process, but also how it is influenced by island life. Isle of Harris gin, produced using a selection of 8 botanicals and hand harvested sugar kelp from the deep underwater forests of the Outer Hebrides, has a subtle coast note and symbolises the maritime influences of the waters that surround the island.  Tours available Monday to Saturday.

Tasting Tip - With a good tonic and either a cut piece of pink or red grapefruit or simply a wedge of fresh lime.

McQueens Gin, Callander, FK17 8LR

(True Craft Gin) 

Launched on 4 June 2016, Scotland's newest gin, McQueen Gin is a unique Craft Gin created, produced, bottled and packaged by Dale and Vicky McQueen in their small distillery in the beautiful countryside on the edge of the highland town of Callander. The gin is distilled from grain spirit in a small still with the infusion of botanicals to create four interesting and unique flavours of Gin – Mocha, Sweet Citrus, Chocolate Mint and Smokey Chilli – and Dale and Vicky are very passionate about their great tasting creations.

  • Mocha -  includes Grapefruit, Vanilla, Chocolate and Coffee infusions giving a beautiful full bodied chocolate and Coffee Tasting Tip - flavour best served with Mediterranean tonic and ice.
  • Sweet Citrus - For those of you that prefer a sweeter taste then Sweet Citrus is the one for you as it includes Grapefruit, Lime, Lemon Grass and Kaffir Lime. Tasting Tip - its zested sweetness is enhanced by serving it with Ice, Elderflower tonic and a slice or two of Orange.
  • Chocolate Mint includes Liquorice, Vanilla, Mint and Chocolate. Tasting Tip - great served with Light tonic, ice and mint leaves helping the taste of mint and chocolate to linger on the palate.
  • Smokey Chilli has a nice spicy kick to it and includes Chipotle chilli, Smokey chilli, chillies and Lime. Tasting Tip – served best with ice and Fentermans Ginger beer.

Although the distillery is small Dale and Vicky are happy to welcome you to see the production and perhaps buy a bottle or two at the Barn at Upper Drumbane. Call first on 01877 339929 

Persie Distillery at Auchenflower, Perthshire, PH10 7LQ

(Persie Gin)

Three aromatic styles of gin are distilled in the former Persie Hotel at the foot of Glenshee.    Simon Fairclough, the distiller developed the gins based on their aroma:  Zesty Citrus, Herby and Aromatic and Sweet and Nutty Old Tom.  All three styles are hand-crafted in small batches and bottled and labelled on site.

Simon spent two years touring the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland and beyond offering gin tastings with his Touring Gin Club, helping gin lovers to discover their favourite aromas.   Simon learned the most popular flavours, which led him to create the fruity, savoury and sweet profiles for Persie.   Visitors are welcome throughout the year to sample the gins in the tasting room and to see the 230 litre copper pot still

Tasting Tips 

  • Zesty Citrus (fruity) with its nose of limes and blood oranges goes well with torn mint leaves and lime with an equal measure of light tonic or sparkling water.
  • Herby and Aromatic (savoury) with its array of herbs including bay, rosemary and basil, add a couple of torn basil leaves with a good tonic.
  • Sweet and Nutty Old Tom (sweet) has notes of vanilla pods, butterscotch and almonds and works well either neat or with a hint of root ginger. 

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