Note: Jim at Mackintosh Gin kindly sent me bottle to try, as always I’ll let you know what I think.
The team at Mackintosh Gin come from Angus, the area just north of Dundee on the east coast of Scotland – affectionately known as “the birthplace of Scotland”. James and Deborah met and fell in love at a young age, after travelling aroujnd they settled in Angus and like all gin lovers, started attending gin festivals and building their gin collection. Around bottle 50, they joked that they should make their own gin – a joke that became reality two years later. They use nine botanicals in their gin – juniper, angelica, coriander and elderflower, which is picked a few minutes from their door. Each morning when they start a distillation, they go and buy fresh grapefruits from their local shop. They import their base spirit from the West Midlands, before the gin is distilled and bottled in Arbroath. Once off the still, it is combined with pure local water from Glen Isla.
Note: I contacted the Beinn an Tuirc distillery team and they kindly sent me some to try. As always, I’ll let you know what I really think.
I think I speak for all of us when I say “what the hell does Beinn an Tuirc mean?” Well it’s the highest point in Kintyre that the Beinn an Tuirc distillery team sources their water from; it translates from gaelic as “the hill of the wild boar”. Kintyre gin features a (presumably) wild boar on top of a hill on their bottle and uses 12 botanicals – all of which are sustainably sourced. They combine macerating botanicals with vapor infusion and mix common botanicals orris root, lemon peel, liquorice, juniper and cubeb amongst others, with more unique ingredients Icelandic moss (which, confusingly, grows in Scotland and isn’t actually moss) and sheep sorrel (not made of sheep, adds a hint of floral notes). They power their 230 litre still with their own hydro-electric scheme and each batch is named, rather than numbers, using the Gaelic alphabet. They recommend serving this with Mediterranean Fever Tree and garnished with basil, or light tonic with mint.
Note: I contacted the Gin Bothy team about International Scottish Gin Day and they kindly sent me a sample to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I really think.
You might have seen my post about the original Gin Bothy, but today we try their Gunshot infused gin. This is proper small batch gin, they make just 38 bottles of this at a time which is distilled and infused for up to four months. They call this the “gin for whisky lovers”. Which is interesting for a country so steeped in whisky history – although the advantage being that this is rested for four months, not a minimum of three years. It opens an interesting debate around interchangeable spirits, but this is a debate that this blog doesn’t have the space for right now (or, frankly, the brain capacity or knowledge). The ‘gunshot’ they infuse their gin with is actually cinnamon, cloves and mixed spices (and it is worth noting this is bottled at 37.5% rather than the 41% of their original gin), they recommend filling your hip flask with this for a day’s hiking, or mixing it with ginger ale. I’m all about mixing gin with ginger, but how does it taste with classic tonic?
Note: I contacted the Gin Bothy team and they sent me a sample to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I really think.
What’s a bothy you ask? The Cambridge Dictionary says “(in Scotland) a small, simple building on a hill for walkers to shelter in, or one that is used on a farm for workers to live in”. The Gin Bothy team reflect on this history and heritage and pledged to keep this at the core of their work. They use traditional methods to make their gin, using local produce such as pine needles and heather – they also have a range of fruit gins that use Scottish berries and rhubarb as botanicals. The respect for the land around them doesn’t end there, £1 from every bottle sold is donated to the Woodland Trust to regenerate the local forests that supply them with their botanicals. Starting life by infusing gin with leftover fruit jams, their range is extensive but today we try their original gin. Here is where they use their pine needles and heather alongside milk thistle, hawthorn root and rosemary which they say invokes the memory of Scottish forests. So, how does it taste?
I’ve admired the bottle of Avva gin for a while, and truth be told it’s been sat on my shelf for nearly two years thanks to my old housemate bringing me a bottle home from one of her events. Based in the old cathedral city of Elgin (up the top near Lossiemouth) the Moray Distillery uses botanicals selected from the highlands and Speyside (including red clover, dandelion and nettle) to create their small batch gin. Avva means a respected grandmother from the Indian language of Dravidian, but in Hebrew it means to overturn or ruin – combined they make a nod to the traditional mother’s ruin reputation. Their still is made in Speyside and is named Jessie Jean after the founder’s grandmothers. The love of the local area continues into their branding, the label features the ‘rose window’ which is an idea of how the cathedral’s round window would have looked when it was still standing.
Note: I contacted Fidra to ask for a sample and a chat about where my family are from in Scotland, even though they’re based near the family home, I’ll tell you exactly what I think of the gin
For those of you that know your Scottish islands, you might know of Fidra off of the coast of East Lothian. Fun fact – my Dad grew up near the border of East Lothian and we spent many a summer holiday eating ice cream on the beach in Musselburgh which is just along the coast. Emma and Jo set up Fidra Gin after their passion for gin developed and they wanted to showcase botanicals grown on the East Lothian coast. The botanicals used include sea buckthorn, elderflower, lemon thyme and rosehip, all handpicked from the local area. The proximity to the sea allows the botanicals to impart a slightly salty taste to the gin and their love for their area carries through to their branding, a beautiful tall, thin bottle with a label depicting the region. So, how does it taste?
Note: I contacted Biggar for a sample and they kindly sent me one to try, as always I’ll let you know what I think.
Biggar gin is one of the many new brands coming from Scotland, started by two brothers who focus on small scale production with big ambitions. They take their name from the town they grew up in, south of Glasgow and Edinburgh in the Southern Uplands and distil their gin at the famous Strathearn Distillery. Traditional botanicals juniper, coriander seeds, cardamom and orris root combine with rosehip, rowan berries and lavender. The idea behind the botanicals is to create a balance of flavours – sweet meets savoury, florals meet earthiness – which reflects the local landscape. So, how does it taste?