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One of the top tourist attractions in Edinburgh is the Edinburgh Gin distillery; launched in 2010, they take inspiration from the city’s boozy history – Leith was a key port in the 1700s, importing genever from The Netherlands. Despite the long history, they are very forward thinking. They teamed up with Heriot-Watt University to access the students of the Brewing and Distilling MSc which was a world first. Since launch, they’ve built up quite the repertoire under head distiller David Watkinson. Their flagship gin features fourteen botanicals, including some slightly more unusual ingredients like pine buds, cobnuts and lemongrass, and is juniper forward with hints of citrus. There is also a large range of flavoured gins – both real gins and properly labelled liqueurs. Today though we are trying their Seaside edition. This was the first collaboration with the students on Heriot-Watt’s MSc course and features coastal botanicals scurvy grass, ground ivy and bladderwrack. They balance the salinity with spice, using coriander, grains of paradise and cardamom. They recommend this as a bright G&T, or in a martini where they ramp up the saltiness to garnish with olive and anchovy.
Note: I contacted the Cushiedoos team and they kindly sent me some samples to try but as always, I’ll let you know what I think.
Cushiedoos is a new brand of tonic water from Edinburgh, but there’s something about it that makes it very different to everything else. This tonic water has no quinine in it. Which made me think, does it actually count as tonic water? They say it does so until I’m told otherwise, we’ll go with yes. Cushiedoos start with Scottish mountain water from the Cairngorns National Park which is then blended with Scottish heather and silver birch, plus some gentian and wormwood for bitterness (replacing the quinine) and British sugar beet to balance this with a touch of sweetness. They have an eye out for the environment, ensuring that all of their ingredients are close to home – plus as it is all natural and contains no added sugar, there is around 24% less sugar than other premium tonic waters. Cushiedoos is a Scottish word for a wood pigeon, who apparently partner up for life, like gin and tonic… Also fun fact for you: the samples arrived just as I was leaving to go on holiday to Edinburgh, and I spent the beginning of my gin tasting talking about the brand which they then bought out for us to try. Small world. Anyway, on with the tasting!
If you’re in Edinburgh, I can recommend the Pickering’s Distillery tour. Well. By tour it’s standing in one room talking all about gin, then going next door and seeing their bottling room, then back to the first room to drink gin. It’s accessed through the Royal Dick Bar (tee hee hee) at Summerhall roundabout. I went during the festival and was joined by my father, who at the end very kindly got me a bottle of the limited edition 2017 Tattoo gin. Working with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo organisers, this year’s edition features indigenous Scottish heather, milk thistle, bog myrtle and Scots Pine added to their Bombay recipe gin wrapped in the official tartan of the Tattoo (not McLaren tartan though as my father pointed out…). Along with the Tattoo gin, their range features their original gin, a navy strength gin and the 1947 recipe (made precisely to their original recipe). They’re also the makers of the original gin baubles that are LITERALLY ALL OVER SOCIAL MEDIA. The bottle is lovely, they have paid real attention to the small details – the Pickering’s peacock wrapped around the bottle and a charming scale of how empty the bottle is on the side.