Experience Scottish Gin

At The Orkney Distillery, home to Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin.

Published: 18th July 2019

Our Experience Scottish Gin feature series discovers Scotland’s gin makers who offer a Scottish Gin experience. As the popularity of Scottish Gin continues to grow and numbers of visitors to Scotland grows year on year, there’s never been a better time to experience Scottish Gin for yourself. From distillery tours and gin and food pairing experiences to gin making and distillation schools, the number of experiences is diverse guaranteeing there’s a Scottish Gin experience out there for you to discover and enjoy.

We talk to Distiller Louis Wright about what visitors can expect of the Kirkjuvagr Gin Making Experience, hosted at The Orkney Distillery, home to the Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin range of products.

Where is your Scottish Gin experience based?

The Kirkjuvagr Gin Making Experience is hosted in our distillery in central Kirkwall: The Orkney Distillery. 

What does your Scottish Gin experience consist of?

To start, we take our guests on a full distillery tour, showing them the distillation process and our bottling line. We spend some time going through the botanicals we have to offer and sampling our range of gins to give the guests an idea of the character of the gin they’d like to create. Once they’ve chosen their botanicals and charged the 2 litre copper stills we get the distillation under way. Visitors will take charge of their own stills and monitor the distillation over the course of the session. After a few G&Ts, their unique distilled gin is cut to bottling strength, a hand-written label is applied, and the bottle is ready to take home. 

How long does your average Scottish Gin experience last?

We usually try to get underway at midday and the session lasts around 4 hours, depending on how many people are in attendance and how many questions they have. The tour should take around 30-45 minutes, preparing the botanicals and stills around half an hour then the distillation takes around two hours.

What are some of the best bits of your Scottish Gin experience?

The Gin Making Experience is set in our beautiful tasting room that overlooks Kirkwall’s historic harbour. We also use real miniature stills and botanicals, so there is a feeling of control over the final spirit that is created. We lay out a range of local produce for our guests, local oatcakes, cheese, chutneys as well as some local salmon. We also provide our perfect serve G&Ts throughout the day, so everyone gets a complete experience at the distillery. 

How many people can take part in your Scottish Gin experience?

We have four stills, each can supervised by 1-3 persons. So we can have as little as 4 people or as many as 12. We can also take larger bookings for groups, so it makes a fantastic event for a group celebration or a work day out. 

What’s the feedback from visitors?

Feedback has been really positive so far! I think people love having the control of the still and watching the character of the distillate change over the course of the distillation and how it reflects the botanicals that they selected. Some have even taken their own botanicals from the garden, which can make for a really special bottling. They also love the range of local food available, our Kirkjuvagr Gin fudge and Kirkjuvagr smoked salmon are very popular.

How can visitors make a booking?

All our of existing tours are able to view on our website and these can be booked from home, but if you would like to arrange for a session you can email info@orkneydistilling.com or call 01856 875338 and we’ll do our best to accommodate you. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your Scottish Gin experience?

Ours is something totally unique in Orkney and such a worthwhile experience, but mainly it is a really fun day: it is great watching people arrive as strangers, but leave together often making bookings for a table at local restaurant or making plans to meet in some of Kirkwall’s pubs later that evening. 

Do you think Scottish Gin experiences are an important part of the story of Scottish Gin?

I think that it allows people who have a real passion for Scottish Gin to immerse themselves in a unique and hands-on way. It also allows them to get closer to their favourite producers to see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. For us, we hope to create passionate ambassadors for our gins – people who will spread the word about our gin and The Orkney Distillery. 

What are some of the other attractions in your local area that you would recommend visitors check out?

There is so so much to do in Orkney. Once you’ve visited our distillery for a Gin Making Experience or for one of our guided tours, I would recommend checking out the famous Neolithic sites; Skara Brae, Maes Howe and the Ring of Brodgar. The more recent military history is also unmissable; the Churchill Barriers and the Italian Chapel, for example. Stromness is a beautiful seaside town that is worth spending time exploring. In Kirkwall, the Highland Park whisky distillery is an amazing and historic place that offers excellent tours. Kirkwall’s centerpiece, the St Magnus Cathedral is a stunning sandstone cathedral, built by the Norsemen that controlled Orkney for centuries and Kirkwall’s streets are full of history and small independent businesses. There are countless fantastic restaurants and bars in Kirkwall to spend the evenings as well!

You can learn more about Orkney Distilling here.

You can book a Kirkjuvagr Gin Making Experience here.

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