A recently produced (g)infographic which detailed all the craft gin producers in Scotland sparked a lot of heated debate online about whether gin could one day replace whisky as our national drink. With over 70% of the UK’s gin production located north of the border and new craft distillers popping up all the time then the current fashion certainly seems to be away from the traditional spirit of choice. Another reason to sample the best spirits that Scotland has to offer is to save the planet. Food miles is one of the most pertinent environmental issues currently facing us. You can now partake of the finest gins in the land safe in the knowledge that many of the ingredients have been harvested locally and the final product perfected just a few miles away. This has the additional benefit of giving each gin a distinctive local flavour with the same gin even differing subtly from year to year due to the availability of local botanicals.
St Andrews is perhaps most famous for its university and golf but is also home to Eden Mill, one of the newest and most progressive distilleries in the UK. They produce a variety of seasonal gins based on what botanicals are available from St Andrew’s Botanical Gardens. Their latest offering for this summer is Golf Gin, flavoured with seasoned hickory to evoke the days of traditionally shafted golf clubs. After a challenging round on the old course why not retire to Balfour House for a revitalizing cocktail, or take a bottle home as a souvenir of your golfing triumph.
Lagafater is a secluded Edwardian lodge, entirely appropriate then for a cocktail party around the fire. Hendricks Gin is produced just up the road at Girvan and has previously been awarded the title of “best gin in the world” The production here is very much traditional with an original pot still, manufactured in 1860 still used today. The resulting gin has a unique fragrance inspired by eating cucumber sandwiches in the garden on a summer’s day and is best served simply with tonic over ice.
Boë Superior Gin is named after the professor who invented gin back in 1658. It is produced in small quantities in Doune where 13 hand-picked botanicals and spices are distilled with crystal clear water from the neighbouring glens. From Acharn Cottages you can see the landscapes that have shaped the flavours you are drinking. Kick back after a long day in the hills and rustle up something restorative. Try serving with bitters and ginger ale with an orange garnish.
NB Gin from North Berwick was recently voted the best London Dry Gin in the world. The strict legal restrictions that govern what can be referred to as London Dry Gin mean that all the flavour must be introduced through re-distillation in a traditional still with your chosen botanicals. The process must not contain added sweeteners or colouring and the only permitted “additive” is water. Denfind House is just a short stroll from the beach at North Berwick, it’s a magnificent modern house built with the golfer in mind, with a fabulous outdoor terrace perfect for sipping a martini after a day on the course.
Locally foraged botanicals such as rowan berries and bog myrtle are the key to the success of Caorunn Gin which originates in Speyside, an area more famous for its whisky. The idea behind the gin was to distil the highlands into a glass and invite connoisseurs to rediscover local ingredients to create truly remarkable cocktails. For those wishing to experiment then where better than your own bar.
Inver Lodge in the Cairngorms was previously a coaching inn dating back to the 1760s, the property has been modernised considerably since then but has retained many original features, the most impressive of which is the bar. You could spend the day foraging in the surrounding hills before stepping behind the bar at night to mix up your bounty.
It’s hard to nominate a favourite, indeed the never ending pursuit of the perfect recipe is part of the fun but if we really had to select one, then Rock Rose Gin with hand-picked strawberries on a summer evening outdoors is hard to beat. So on you go, save the planet, drink local.
Photo NB Gin