Think Scotland, think Scotch? Think again. The country might export £4.3bn of whisky a year, but its credentials as a distiller of gin are not too shabby either: Gordon’s has been made in Diageo’s Cameronbridge factory in Fife since 1998. Super-premium gin Hendrick’s is made in Girvan.Many Scotch gin brands are shouting about their provenance with good reason, says Jonathan Engels, MD of Pincer vodka, which launched Crossbill Gin, named after the native bird, last November.
“When the Dutch invented jenever, the precursor to gin, the juniper was imported from North East Scotland,” says Engels. “So we set about sourcing a sustainable Scottish juniper supply to create the first 100% Scottish gin, working with the Inshriach estate in Aviemore. Rosehip also grows wild in the area so, to keep the product simple and elegant, we use just two botanicals.”
On the west coast, Islay whisky distiller Bruichladdich uses a more complex approach, complementing the nine aromatics in artisan gin The Botanist with 22 botanicals from Islay.
And Caorunn, which took its place on the Coolbrands list last year and claims to be the UK’s third-biggest super-premium gin after Tanqueray No 10 and Hendrick’s, makes much of its provenance too.
“Caorunn’s authenticity has made an impact not only on consumers but retailers too,” says a spokeswoman for the brand, now stocked by Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. “It’s unique. It’s made from pure grain spirit and Scottish water and infused with five foraged Celtic botanicals: rowan berry, heather, dandelion, bog myrtle and coul blush apple.”
Scottish gin is also picking up plaudits from the experts. In March Stirling-based VC2 Brands’ Boë Superior Gin - named after Franz de la Boë, the Dutch physician widely credited with inventing jenever, packed with 13 different botanicals and distilled to a hefty 47% abv - took silver at the World Gin Awards.
Meanwhile, Pickering’s Gin, from the first gin still to be fired up in Edinburgh for 150 years, is marketing itself on both its Scottish heritage and its versatility as a cocktail mixer or in a G&T garnished with lemongrass or pink grapefruit.
The brand plans to launch a new winter gin this year.