Did you know that British gin is in fact 70% Scottish gin? Although more famous for whisky, Scotland is actually the world’s leading gin producer.
Britain has a fairly solid history with gin, we’ve loved and loathed it, banned it and rioted over it and we’re now leading the worldwide revival in gin appreciation. Gin is undoubtedly a British thing but it’s normally considered an English thing and, thanks to the term ‘London Dry’, it’s almost synonymous with England’s capital. But a London Dry doesn’t have to be made in that great city and, statistically, much of it is made elsewhere. Specifically, it’s made in Scotland.
Britain's gin exports make up a whopping 70% of the international gin market, making us the largest gin producing nation in the world. But if 70% of all British gin is made in Scotland then those Scots are certainly making a lot of the glorious stuff!
A good proportion of Scottish gin is made in Fife for the green giant - Gordon’s but Scotland is host to an amazing range of craft distilleries too. From repurposed hen houses to whisky distilleries branching out and determined gin lovers creating their own, perfect tipple, there are a multitude of intriguing Scottish gins.
Here at Gin Festival, we think that Scottish gins tend to have a warm, earthy element to them, be that the influence of the Scottish Highlands or peaty, whisky elements. Many Scottish botanicals come from the low-lying plants, (heathers and thistles) that manage to survive the harsh conditions thrown at them by the British weather. While this kind of botanical adds a definite light, aromatic note to gin the roots of the botanicals are clear.
With Scotland’s rich, established history of whisky production, it’s no wonder that the bright, malty spirit has had an influence on Scottish gins, and in a variety of ways! There are barrel-aged gins which can taste like a finely oaked Scotch with a burst of citrus and juniper, gins distilled from single malt spirit that take on an earthed, smokey flavour and oak-aged gins with honeyed tones and gentle, whisky warmth.
A few of our favourite Scottish gins include:
Gold Medal Winner of the 2015 International Wine and Spirit competition and it’s easy to see why. Daffy’s is a strong bodied gin with hints of toffee, summer fruits and some light mint.
Distilled with locally sourced botanicals that have all the character of the Highlands and the Scottish shore, Rock Rose is comprehensively Scottish. This is a vintage gin, one whose flavours will subtly change every year as the wild climate affects the botanicals used.
Based on an original recipe that has been kept secret since 1947. Pickering’s is strongly aromatic in the mouth with lots of pine and citrus. There are hints of liquorice and cinnamon, slightly nutty notes and a sweet lavender-like softness. Refreshingly crisp and dry with a long spicy residual flavour.
Styling themselves as modern wizards of distilling Edinburgh Gin love playing with flavours to create a wonderland of gin. Though their namesake Edinburgh gin is delicious, we think the real wizardry is found in their range of gin liqueurs, perfectly constructed drinks ideal for using in cocktails. Edinburgh Rhubarb & Ginger Liqueur is a Gin Festival HQ favourite with an intoxicating warmth reminiscent of cosy nights by the fire and hearty winter puddings.
Winners of the “Scotland's Craft Spirit of the Year” 2015 award and probably Scotland’s smallest distillery, Strathearn originally produced artisan single cask whiskies but have since branched out to make some distinctive gins. Strathearn Oaked Highland Gin combines the two, infusing a bright and citrusy gin with the flavour of an oak whisky barrel to add a subtle smokiness and a vanilla finish.
As much as we love our office, the Gin Festival team were extremely happy to visit The Lakes Gin Distillery recently for a look around and a taste of this fantastic spirit.
To celebrate our new stock of Sanction Gin, we spoke with its creator - Matthew from Gin Without Borders - to find out more about the story behind the drink.
We chat to Moritz from multicultural Kalevala about chemical engineering, their official Head of Happiness, and distilling in Finland.
Getting all Euromantic looking forward to a certain song contest? If you’re hosting a Euro party, enjoy our top 5 favourite continental gin cocktails.