Today marks the very first International Scottish Gin Day! To celebrate the occasion, we’ve picked out 10 of the tastiest gins that hail from north of the border. Enjoy! Words: Victoria Sayers
3 August 2019 is the first ever International Scottish Gin Day. Juniper geeks, get ready to celebrate! No longer is the Scottish distilling scene only about whisky: now distilleries are embracing local botanicals to create a sense of place through gin, too. The reputation of Scottish distilling is sky-high, but instead of riding on Scotch’s coat tails, these gin producers are carving their own niche in the international spirits scene. Here’s our pick of some of the tastiest Scottish gins around – but it was actually a pretty tough call to make. Not only are there LOADS of them, they’re pretty delicious, too. These 10 not enough to whet your appetite? We’ve got a whole bunch more Scottish gins right here!
Theodore Pictish Gin
Inspired by the Picts, one of the first tribal settlers of Scotland, we introduce Theodore Pictish Gin! These body-painted warriors arrived on the eastern archipelago and had a sense of mystery about them. This clan inhabited the Scottish Highlands and documented their adventures through poetry, engravings and building fortresses across Scotland. A creative, enterprising bunch. Theodore Gin represents the curiosity of the Pict people, and is made with 16 botanicals to wet your whistle: honey, coriander, citric pomelo, bourbon vetiver, damask rose, pink pepper, angelica, chamomile, kaffir lime, ginger, orris, pine, lavender, cardamom, and oolong tea all mix in with the juniper to create something truly elegant. Try out this T&T in a highball glass: 50ml Theodore Gin and 125ml tonic water, built over ice and garnished with a slice of mango.
Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice
Deeply floral and lightly playful, it’s Midsummer Solstice Gin! A refreshing take on a classic Hendrick’s, this expression is infused with a tip-top secret recipe that has been made in a very small batch, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. Much like Midsummer Day itself, it’s meant to be a fleeting moment in time, hence the limited-run liquid. We’re big fans; it pairs especially well with sparkling wine and tonic.
Orkney Gin Company Rhubarb Old Tom
Orkney Gin Company, named after its namesake archipelago off the north coast of Scotland, released its Rhubarb Old Tom for the first time on World Gin Day 2017 (timing = excellent). Rhubarb is widely celebrated in Orkney, where families pass down their recipes to new generations of Orcadians. Old Tom gins are traditionally sweetened to give the liquid a smoother finish, and Orkney Gin Company believes this enhances the tartness of the rhubarb. Other botanicals that complement the rhubarb’s zesty flavour include the smooth juniper berries, citrus peel, rose petals and cinnamon. The team even uses seven-times distilled grain spirit, an updated version of the historical methods… The result? Pretty tasty!
Rock Rose Gin
Made by Dunnet Bay Distillers (a tiny team of seven) in North Scotland, the alluringly smooth Rock Rose Gin is produced using local botanicals including rose root, coriander seed, cardamom, juniper, sea buckthorn, rowan berries and blueberries. The team’s very clever gardener, Dr Hana, can be found growing these weird and wonderful botanicals in the brand’s very own geodome which she built at the distillery. Wowzers. This is suitably tasty on its own due to the spritziness of the rose notes, but of course you can couple with tonic, too.
Daffy’s Small Batch Premium Gin
Daffy is the goddess of gin (apparently) and was first written about over 300 years ago. The wheat grain spirit used in the expression hails from northern France, while the distillery Daffy’s Gin is made at is situated in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park. Traditional botanicals like juniper, cassia bark and coriander are mixed in with Lebanese mint and a variety of lemons. The Daffy’s team believes that the balance of strength and flavour at 43.4% ABV results in a well-rounded and smooth finish, even when enjoyed straight. The design of the bottle is the work of artist Robert McGinnis, who created film posters for various James Bond films and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The perfect D&T? 50ml Daffy’s Gin, 100ml tonic water, three wedges of lime and some mint leaves. You’re welcome!
The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
Islay is known for its rather wonderful whiskies, but now it’s the home of some gin brands, too! We’re fans of The Botanist (made at the Bruichladdich Distillery). It really does have one of the best bottles we’ve set our eyes upon. Plus, it’s a treat for your taste buds, too. A whopping 22 botanicals are squashed into The Botanist gin including some Islay natives. Are you ready for this list? The full list of is as follows: apple mint, chamomile, creeping thistle, downy birch, elder, gorse, hawthorn, heather, juniper, lady’s bedstraw, lemon balm, meadowsweet, mugwort, red clover, spearmint, sweet cicely, bog myrtle sweet gale, tansy, water mint, white clover, wild thyme and wood sage. Phew!
Loch Ness Gin
Produced in Loch Ness (obvs), Loch Ness Gin is the product of a husband and wife team, Kevin and Lorien Cameron-Ross, whose family has resided on the bank surrounding the lake for over five centuries. They pick their own juniper and botanicals on their home estate, right on the shores of Loch Ness – very cool. At the heart of the distillery’s products is the Loch; its water is used in the whole range of spirits – we like to think it gives a bit of a magical, mysterious vibe. With all this nature on the doorstep, the family has a deep understanding of the region and respect the land highly; they say it makes their ingredients ‘real and rare’, with a taste like no other.
Lussa Gin is native to the Isle of Jura, situated off the west coast of Scotland. It was founded by a trio of adventurers; they grow, gather and distil using only local botanicals. Jura is super-remote, only 30 people live at the north end of the island, where the distillery is located. The team says ‘isolation is inspiration’; how could you not when you’re surrounded by mountains and water, and you can only reach the island by ferry (or by helicopter, if you happen to have a spare one of those). It is so free from air pollution that lichen can grow everywhere. The end product: a fresh, zesty, smooth gin with a subtly aromatic finish.
Lind & Lime Gin
The first tipple to come from Edinburgh’s Port of Leith Distillery – it’s Lind & Lime Gin! Inspired by Dr James Lind, who conducted clinical trials aboard HMS Salisbury to help find a cure for Scurvy back in the day. His findings helped sailors see a remarkable improvement in their health, and kept Britain a huge step ahead of enemies during times of naval warfare. As for the bottle design, inspiration was drawn from the 14th century, when wine was one of the most valuable items to pass through the local harbour. Juniper, lime and pink peppercorns are the three key botanicals in this gin and they really work in harmony. We reckon it tastes as good as it looks.
Eight Lands Gin
Eight Lands produces an array of spirits with Speyside spring water, distilled and bottled by the family-owned Glenrinnes Distillery. Featuring 11 different botanicals including cowberries and sorrel from the Estate gives this gin some berry good flavours (ha!). This shiny new distillery was purpose built to not make whisky (a shocker in Speyside, we know!) and was completed in 2018. The spirits are made using spring water drawn from the lowest slopes of Ben Rinnes – both pretty cool and sustainable. And it tastes really rather good in a classic G&T.