2018: A Year in ReviewA look back at an exciting year for Scottish Gin.
Published: 31st December 2018
2018 was an amazing year for Scottish Gin with brands picking up numerous awards, both internationally and here in Scotland. Not only that, the sheer number of new Scottish Gin expressions, brands and distilleries in 2018 was fantastic to see. For us, our year didn’t really start until our website launched in late April 2018 but we thought we’d look back on some of the highlights from the story of Scottish Gin in 2018.
Scottish Gin Awards
January started with a call to Scottish Gin makers to enter the second ever Scottish Gin Awards organised and run by the team at KD Media. Covering 18 categories including Scottish Gin Distillery of the Year, London Dry Gin of the Year, Growth Business of the Year and more, the awards team saw a 52% increase in the number of entries from the previous year.
Deeside Distillery launched the world’s strongest gin at 77% ABV. Still River Uncut Gin, produced by Deeside Distillery and distilled using their own neutral grain spirit. The story of the record breaking gin was picked up by an array of global news outlets and publications. The gin was limited to only 101 bottles. Learn more about Still River here.
Lost Loch Spirits
Aberdeenshire distillery Lost Loch Spirits released eeNoo Scottish Gin. The bottle looked unlike anything else and took its design influence from the background story of Eenoolooapik the Inuit, locally known as Eenoo, who arrived in Aberdeen aboard the whaling ship Neptune in 1839. Learn more about Lost Loch Spirits here.
Kinrara Distillery celebrated their official opening in Aviemore with the release of their signature gin. Kinrara Highland Dry Gin was launched at the end of February and batch one sold out in record time thanks to pre-orders and high demand. Distilled and bottled on-site, the new gin combined locally foraged and locally sourced botanicals including rosehip and rowan berries hand foraged on the Kinrara estate. Learn more about Kinrara Distillery here.
The Wee Farm Distillery
Jenny McKerr launched her signature Drovers Gin after establishing her distillery on the family farm. After renovating and converting an old cow shed, The Wee Farm Distillery was born. Drovers Gin was the first gin to be launched by Jenny as a tribute to the many hardy Drovers and Farmers. Drovers Gin was created with food pairing in mind and contains pink peppercorns and allspice, two botanicals which compliment and work well alongside steak. Learn more about The Wee Farm Distillery here.
Eden Mill revealed it had submitted plans to build a new £4 million distillery and brewery in a historic old paper mill in St Andrews. Located a few metres from the existing site, the new site was once home to the Seggie Distillery and Brewery, founded by the Haig family in 1810. Until 1860, this site produced gin, whisky and beer. The new plans include a café/bar, visitor centre, shop, presentation room and VIP tasting area. The new site will double Eden Mill’s current visitor capacity to 50,000 a year. Learn more about The Eden Mill here.
The Pentland Still
Sandy Morrison, the distiller behind The Pentland Still, launched his signature gin, King’s Hill Gin. Distilled using his traditional Iberian copper pot still, named Marion after his Grandmother, the gin combines traditional botanicals alongside botanicals foraged by Sandy from the Pentland Hills. Learn more about The Pentland Still here.
The Biggar Gin Co.
Biggar Gin was officially launched by brothers Stuart and Euan from South Lanarkshire. Released in small batches of 200, the gin is a classic London Dry. The brothers philosophy is to produce a gin that has a ‘Biggar Mentality’. Distillation with a focus on flavour that captures the local landscape. Learn more about The Biggar Gin Co here.
Square Peg Spirits Company
Established in January 2018 by a team of five guys from different backgrounds, saw the first release from the Square Peg Spirits Company – Square Peg Pink Gin. Amongst the first Scottish Pink Gins to be released, the gin was distilled using a mix of botanicals including raspberries and blackberries. Learn more about Square Peg Spirits Company here.
The Gin Cooperative
We launched our own website after four months of design and development, content gathering, speaking with gin makers and brands. Self-funded and a labour of love, we were overwhelmed with the positive feedback at launch.
Raven Thought & Memory and Raven Founder’s Edition were launched side by side. Established by brothers Callum and Peter, who were inspired to create their own gin after a visit to Bruichladdich Distillery, home to The Botanist. The brothers spent over a year developing their ideal flavour combination, refining and developing the recipe, testing small batches before landing on their final gin, which includes mandarin. Learn more about Raven Spirits here.
The team behind McQueen Gin traded in their iconic ceramic bottles for a new eco-friendly glass version. The original McQueen Gin ceramic bottles were instantly recognisable and part of the brand since its launch in 2015. The new glass bottles were not only clear, showcasing the contents of the bottle, but could also be more widely recycled compared to the original ceramic version. Learn more about McQueen Gin here.
Orkney based Deerness Distillery opened their new tasting room and shop after 12 months planning. The tasting room provides the perfect place to sample their award-winning Sea Glass Gin and other spirits. The shop features a variety of locally produced gifts including Orkney Crystal, Deerness Distillery branded homeware and more unique crafted pieces. Learn more about the Deerness Distillery tasting room here.
After years of planning and ambition, Helen Stewart, distiller and founder of Badvo Distillery, officially launched her signature Badvo Gin. Distilled by Helen using 100% hand foraged botanicals from the family farm, a few miles from Pitlochry, Badvo Gin is one of a select few that is distilled using 100% Scottish botanicals. Learn more about Badvo Distillery here.
The Darnley’s Gin School at the Kingsbarn Estate opened its doors to the public. A 19th century Scottish cottage that’s been repurposed on site to house both the gin distillery and gin school. The Gin School experience means you can learn more about distillation and botanicals, some of which are grown in the cottage garden, before distilling, filling, labelling and naming your own bottle of gin to take home. Learn more about Darnley’s Gin here.
The Old Curiosity Distillery
The Old Curiosity Distillery opened its doors to visitors with the launch of their Gin Garden. Visitors to the Secret Herb Garden, home to The Old Curiosity Distillery, are taken on a guided tour around the gardens where many of the botanicals used to make The Old Curiosity Distillery range of gins are grown. After a guided tour around the gardens, visitors are then taken to the Gin Garden for a gin tasing followed by a visit to the distillery. Learn more about The Old Curiosity Distillery here.
The Borders Distillery
The Borders Distillery released their signature William Kerr’s Borders Gin. Distilled in the distillery’s specially commissioned Carter Head Still, the gin is made using spirit from The Borders Distillery. Its namesake was taken from William Kerr, a talented yet humble botanist who lived in Hawick, home of The Borders Distillery. William left his home to explore The Orient and the Indian Sub-Continent, seeking new species of plant to send back to Europe. Learn more about The Borders Distillery here.
Edinburgh based Pickering’s Gin continued to expand its global brand and presence with the opening of their first Pickering’s Gin and Seafood Bar in Beijing. Situated in the Sanlitun area of Chaoyang District, the venue is the first of 19 venues planned for China. The new venue includes 120-cover restaurant, three bars, a live music stage and a ‘peacock nest’ for “immersive” Pickering’s brand experiences. The seafood menu is set to feature seafood exclusively from Scotland, including lobster, oysters and mussels. Learn more about Pickering’s Gin here.
GlenWyvis Distillery launched their newly rebranded signature gin GoodWill Gin. GlenWyvis Distillery opened in late 2017 and brought distilling back to the town of Dingwall for the first time in over 90 years. The rebrand and new gin is centred around the distillery’s unique ethos of community ownership and benefit. Learn more about the GlenWyvis GoodWill Gin rebrand here.
The Orkney Distillery, home to Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin, officially opened its doors. With work starting in February 2017, the new distillery is situated on the harbour front in Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital. Featuring a distillery, café/bar area and tours, the new distillery was a welcome addition to Orkney’s growing reputation for producing world class food and drink. Along with bringing distillation back to the island, the new distillery also created several new jobs for locals. Learn more about the new distillery here.
Benromach Distillery launched its signature gin, a London Dry style gin, fittingly named after the red architectural features of the distillery – Red Door Gin. Distilled on-site in Peggy the gin still, Red Door Gin is described with notes of juniper and bitter orange, sea buckthorn, heather and rowan berries. With new plans for updating the visitors experience and distillery room, 2019 will be an exciting new chapter in the Red Door Gin story. Learn more about Red Door Gin here.
Crag & Tail
The team behind Huffman’s, a well respected Dundee based drinks distributor, launched their very own Crag & Tail Gin. Having spent time around Scottish Gin and Scottish Spirits, the team knew what their ideal Scottish Gin would taste like. With the help of Distillutions, Crag & Tail was launched and has received high praise in the gin community. Learn more about Crag & Tail here.
The team behind the premix gin cocktail ‘Gin & Mix’ launched Ellis Gin. Distilled at Illicit Spirits, one of Glasgow’s true urban distilleries, the two initial gin expressions aree simply packaged as Ellis Gin No.2 and Ellis Gin No.3. Ellis Gin No.2 is Scottish Bramble Gin, which is red in colour changing to a bright orange with the addition of tonic. Ellis Gin No.3 is Butterfly Pea Gin, a gorgeous asian botanical, that is a vibrant blue colour that turns to lilac with the addition of tonic. Learn more about Ellis Gin here.
Isle of Skye Distillers
Isle of Skye Distillers, the team behind Misty Isle Gin and Tommy’s Gin, opened their new Gin School on the island. The experience has proved popular for locals, visitors and tourists. Owners, distillers and brothers Thomas and Alistair Wilson educate the participants on provenance, distillation and botanicals before they go on to make their own personalised gin and label. Learn more about Isle of Skye Distillers’ Gin School here.
Long time friends and gin drinkers Emma and Jo finally realised their dream after 2 years in the making. Passionate gin drinkers, they wanted to create a gin that used locally foraged botanicals from the East Lothian coast. Having purchased a 5 litre still called Sadie, and after a number of months experimenting, they developed their ideal flavour profile for their gin. Produced with the help and guidance of their friends in the gin community, the first small batch of Fidra Gin was launched. Packaged in what must be the tallest bottle of all the Scottish Gins, it is elegant and eye catching and captures the coastal elements of the gin. Learn more about Fidra Gin here.
Scottish Gin Awards
The second annual Scottish Gin Awards evening was held in Glasgow and was attended by over 600 guests from the world of Scottish Gin, Scottish Spirits, food, drink and business. The evening was an opportunity to recognise and celebrate some of the brands, individuals and businesses who had contributed to the Scottish Gin category. Read our 2018 awards round up here.
International Scottish Gin Day
We announced our intentions to make 3rd of August 2019 International Scottish Gin Day with a soft launch and press-release that was picked up by a number of publications and websites. A long held ambition to launch a day that provides a unique opportunity for both Scottish based on and off trade businesses as well as international businesses, International Scottish Gin Day 2019 will provide a fantastic platform for showcasing Scottish Gin to a truly global audience. Learn more about International Scottish Gin Day here.
Whilst work continues on the renovation and refurbishment of the St Leonard’s Hill distillery site, the team at Holyrood Distillery released their first two prototype gins – Dry Gin and Pink Gin, and shortly after opened up their pop-up shop, which provides the chance for the Holyrood Distillery team to meet the public, discuss the plans for the new distillery and showcase their range of new experimental gins. Learn more about Holyrood Distillery here.
Mackintosh Gin was launched by husband and wife team Debbie and Jim from Angus. After years of enjoying gin and building a great understanding of the category and botanicals, the couple decided the time was right to launch their own gin. Having spent the previous 2 years developing their recipe, visiting gin distilleries and speaking with distillers, Mackintosh Gin was launched. Learn more about Mackintosh Gin here.
House of Elrick
The new House of Elrick Distillery opened on the House of Elrick estate in Aberdeenshire. Part of the long-term plans to renovate and refurbish the grounds, the new distillery will be overseen by ex-Glen Garioch distiller Kenny Grant. Stuart Ingram, owner and founder of House of Elrick Gin had appeared on BBC’s Dragon’s Den earlier in the year, seeking investment to aid with the planned refurbishment of the estate. Learn more about House of Elrick Gin here.
Angus based spirits maker Gin Bothy opened their new ‘The Bothy Experience’ in the village of Glamis. Bothies in Scotland have played a significant role in Scotland’s history, including providing shelter for shepherds and drovers moving livestock over Scotland’s vast and rugged landscape, a welcome rest for weary travellers and more recently a place to stay overnight for hillwalkers. Housed in a traditional set of former farm buildings, which have been tastefully renovated and restored to capture the the history and experiences of Bothy life, The Bothy Experience provides an opportunity to taste the Gin Bothy gin and liqueur expressions, a tasting room which is available for private hire, and selected food from the local area along with a selection of carefully selected gifts. Learn more about Gin Bothy here.
A new look LoneWolf Gin was revealed. The new packaging was based on the design of their existing tonic water and pre-mixed canned G&Ts, with the addition of a colour coded spirit swatch on the bottle. The new packaging was an opportunity to create a consistent style across the core products and also a reflection of the brand and distillery. Learn more about LoneWolf Spirits here.
Hendrick’s Gin Palace
The brand new £13 million Hendrick’s Gin Palace was unveiled. The new distillery is home to two still houses comprising six stills – four Bennett stills, including the original antique copper pot still from 1860, plus three exact replicas; and two Carter-Head stills including the original that dates back to 1948 and one exact replica. Along with two Victorian inspired green houses, a tasting room, bar and flavour library for head distiller Lesley Gracie, the new Gin Palace is located at William Grant & Sons’ Girvan grain plant in Scotland. Learn more about Hendrick’s Gin here.
Edinburgh Gin unveiled plans for a bespoke distillery in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, just a short distance from the world famous Royal Mile. The new distillery, which would be based next to the newly revamped Waverley Station, will enable Edinburgh Gin to double their current production. Housing a new distillery, visitors centre, shop and rooftop botanical garden and private tasting room. Learn more about Edinburgh Gin here.
One of the most unique distilleries in the story of Scottish Gin, winning Shed of the Year in 2015, Inshriach Distillery finally got its own bottling room. Constructed and built by owner and distiller Walter Micklethwait and his trusted team of friends and family, the bottling room means that Inshriach Gin, from start to finish, is now distilled, bottled and packaged on the estate. Until recently the gin was bottled thanks to the help of neighbours Kinrara Distillery. Learn more about Inshriach here.
Port of Leith Distillery
Port of Leith Distillery launched one of the most distinct Scottish Gins of 2018 with the launch of their Lind & Lime Gin. A collaborative gin distilled by James Porteous of Electric Spirit Company, the new gin took its flavour profile from the story of James Lind, one of Leith’s historical maritime figures. Learn more about the launch of Lind & Lime Gin here.
Batch 1 of Scotland’s newest gin brand was launched after its founder Andy McGeoch had found himself discussing the irony of seeing Edinburgh Gin appearing in many Glasgow bars. With the long-term ambition of opening their own distillery in Glasgow, Andy hopes that Glasgow can be proud to have its own gin tied to the famous city. Learn more about Glaswegin here.
New gin expressions released in 2018 from already established brands included Beinn an Tuirc’s Oak Aged Botanical and Pink Gins, Crafty Distillery’s very limited edition (of 1!) Heir of the Dog, in celebration of the Royal Wedding and their 100% Scottish Galloway Gin, Darnley’s Very Berry Gin, Deerness Distillery’s Scuttled Gin, a centenary commemoration of the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow, Rock Rose’s Festive Clootie Dumpling Gin, Eden Mill’s Summer Punch and Candy Cane Gins, Edinburgh Gin’s 1670 Gin, made in partnership with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, El:gin’s Heather Honey Gin, Esker Spirits’ Silverglas Gin, GlenWyvis’ GoodWill Christmas Gin, Kelso Gin Company’s Mockingbird and Pomme Gins, Kinrara’s Hibiscus and Artists Edition Gins, Loch Ness Spirits’ Legends Gin, Makar’s Cherry Gin, McLean’s Something Blue Gin, Orkney Distilling’s Harpa and Aurora Gins, Orkney Gin Company’s Johannistag Navy Strength Old Tom, Raven Spirit’s Hrafn Winter Edition Gin, Square Peg’s Craft Gin, Garden Shed’s Côte-Rôtie Aged Gin, Old Curiosity’s Damask Rose, Geranium & Mallow and Christmas Gins and Wee Farm’s Doddie’s and Farmer Strength Gins.
There were other Scottish Gin releases in 2018 and new Scottish Gin brands who appeared, all following their own path and all adding their own chapter to the story of Scottish Gin in 2018, from across the breadth and width of Scotland. We’ve not covered all of the new gins released or all events that helped shape Scottish Gin in 2018, but for a fuller picture, be sure to visit our Scottish Gin directory, currently the world’s largest directory and website dedicated to Scottish Gin that’s distilled in Scotland.
When we launched our website on 23rd of April this year, our directory and downloadable resources, including our Scottish Gin map featured 150 Scottish Gins from 70 Scottish Gin brands based in Scotland. At last count, we were sitting at over 220 Scottish Gins and over 80 Scottish Gin brands. With at least another 10 brands waiting to be added to our website, we can see the number of Scottish Gin brands reaching 100 by the end of 2019. We believe by the end of 2019 we will see over 300 individual Scottish Gins available.
We’re also extremely excited to see announcements from some brands, who currently distil their gin out with Scotland, seeing through their plans to bring distillation back to Scotland in 2019.
We think 2019 should be a year of focusing on the positives and looking to see how the Scottish Gin category can be defined and protected as we mentioned in our recent article 2019: A Year of Change.
For the businesses, organisations and individuals working hard to help tell the story of Scottish Gin, we hope 2019 can be a year of collaboration, sharing and discussing new ideas and actively working together, where we can, for the benefit of the consumer and the many great Scottish Gin makers and Scottish Gin brands that we all love. For us, the more opportunities for the consumer to discover Scottish Gin and showcase the brands and people, the better. The story of Scottish Gin is one that should be shared and enjoyed so the consumer can learn why 2019 should be the year they discover (or continue to discover) the wonderful world of Scottish Gin.