With roughly 70% of the UK’s gin produced in Scotland, it’s no surprise, a gin trail has popped up to coincide with tonight’s celebration of Burns Night.
The spirit is worth £1.76bn to the UK economy and it’s evident that Scotland’s craft gin industry is flourishing.
The map showcases 12 of Scotland’s best craft distilleries, bars and landmarks encouraging visitors to swap a dram for a nip of gin. It’s the brainchild of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) with the support of DEFRA and joins The London Gin Trail.
Here are some of the Scottish gin distillers I know, some are on the trail, others not.
Two of the biggest gin brands in the world come from Scotland, and I didn’t believe it either. Gordon’s and Tanqueray are only London dry gins in name. Both are owned by Diageo and are made at Cameron Bridge, near Leven in Fife. Apparently only 12 people know the recipe for Gordon’s Gin.
Take a trip to the Firth of Forth and Wemyss Castle is home to the gin distillery of Darnley’s View. Their award-winning spiced gin has all the familiar ingredients of any great gin with added cardamom and nutmeg.
In St Andrew’s the ‘home of golf’ you’ll find Eden Mill gin . They produce five core gins including Original Gin and Love gin, a sweet floral gin with a blush of pink. Botanicals for this include red rose petals, marshmallow root, goji berries and whole hibiscus flowers – perfect for Valentine’s Day.
In Girvan, Hendrick’s have made their home, and their popular cucumber and rose infused gin is made in small batches, using two rare and unusual stills.
Shetland Reel Gin is at the tip of the British Isles in the most northerly inhabited island of Unst. It began life, as many businesses do, by four people sharing a passion for producing top quality products, locally. It’s the Island’s only distillery their original gin uses locally-harvested apple mint and their latest batch, Ocean Sent features native Shetland seaweed. They also make a blended malt here too.
ARGYLL & THE ISLES
One of my favourite Islands is Islay and while it’s famous for its malt whisky, The Bruichladdich Distillery has had a rather successful time bottling The Botanist. I love this floral gin that uses nine classic botanicals and a further 22 harvested from the Island.
DUNDEE & ANGUS
Arbikie Gin hails from a family-run distillery in Arbroath, their award-winning ‘Kirsty’s Gin’ is named after Master Distiller, Kirsty Black. All its botanicals are locally foraged.
Speyside is another area known for it’s malt rather than it’s gin but Caorunn Gin infuses five locally foraged botanicals. Small batch, and crafted by their master gin maker Simon Buley, like their whisky they use only pure grain spirit, natural Scottish Water and 11 botanical gin ingredients. Tonic and red apple slices are how you take Caorunn.
Gordon Castle Gin is another small-batch gin packed with Highland herbs from the Castle’s walled garden. Subtle notes of lavender and garden mint makes this award-winning gin perfect for a dry martini.
It’s the only native bird found in Scotland’s ancient Caledonian pine forest and it’s the name of this distillery near Aviemore in the Highlands . Crossbill uses Scottish ingredients which include Speyside’s free water supply, Juniper and the hedgerow fruit Rosehip. They’ve also cultivated their own sustainable wild juniper supply. Each year small batches are released, pretty much in harmony with the juniper growth. Sustainable and delicious.
In Dunnet Bay, you’ll find the Rock Rose gin distillery, the most northerly distillery in mainland Britain. While they’re relative newcomers (they began life in 2014), they’re already picking up Awards. Their gin made with locally harvested botanicals of Rhodiola Rosea, sea buckthorn and rowan berries is zesty and fruity and bottled in ceramic. They also make Holy Grass Vodka.
EDINBURGH & THE LOTHIANS
Edinburgh Gin is made within stumbling distance of the Castle, right in the heart of the City and it’s here you can see how they make their spirit. It’s also the site of the Heads and Tales Bar where you can take a tour, a guided tasting, or make your own gin. In the evening, the distillery is transformed into a gin bar.
Pickering’s is handcrafted at the Summerhall Distillery, the first gin distillery in Edinburgh, established over 150 years ago. Their award-winning gin is made with nine botanicals and added to the grain spirit in a 500-litre copper still who goes by the name of ‘Gert’.
The Jolly Botanist is a gin bar in Edinburgh’s Haymarket area where over 72 Gins are on offer.
In the coastal town of Dunbar, Firkin Gin is a relative newcomer. Launched on 24 April 2015 they produce just 250 bottles in each batch. Each is individually filled, corked, sealed, labelled and waxed by hand. This classic London-dry gin recipe has a twist; it’s aged in American Oak casks.
By the sea in North Berwick, you’ll find NB Gin, another late starter which doesn’t seem to have hindered it’s rise through the ranks. This distillery was born in 2013 and has garnered a clutch of awards including The World’s Best London Dry Gin at The World Drinks Awards. Just eight quality botanicals go into this gin and no more than 100 litres is distilled at a time, keeping an ever watchful eye on perfection.
GILT gin is Loch Lomond’s first gin offering and is produced by Strathleven Distillers – the result of a Scotsman and a Spaniard realising a dream. This super-dry gin is made from malted barley with punches of juniper and cardamom.
GREATER GLASGOW & THE CLYDE VALLEY
In Glasgow Makar Gin is distilled at the Glasgow Distillery Company, and is made in their copper pot still, called Annie. They use seven botanicals, including juniper, angelica root, liquorice, coriander seed, lemon peel, rosemary, black peppercorns and cassia bark. They also make a single malt called Prometheus.
If you’re not in the travelling mood, visit Gin71, Glasgow’s first dedicated gin bar. They stock thousands of varieties and if you can’t choose, take a gin flight served with their homemade tonics.
At the Strathearn Distillery near the village of Methven, they have Zak Shenfield overseeing the production of their oaked Highland gin. At 22, he’s Scotland’s Young Distiller of the Year at what is probably Scotland’s smallest whisky and a gin distillery.
Here’s the new map.