A Recipe for Gin

Rucolino Gin, Lost Loch Spirits

Published: 11th November 2020

In ‘A Recipe for Gin’, we meet the people responsible for creating Scottish Gin recipes, providing a fascinating insight into the gin making process and the inspiration and challenges of bringing an idea for a gin to life.

Located in the picturesque Royal Deeside in Aberdeenshire, Lost Loch Spirits Distillery, on the outskirts of Aboyne, has been producing spirits since early 2018. Established by friends and co-founders Peter Dignan and Richard Pierce, the distillery was the first in Scotland to produce an Absinthe. Along with their award-winning eeNoo Scottish Gin and Haroosh (a whisky, honey, bramble liqueur), the distillery is focused in creating drinks with character.

With the addition of the Lost Loch Spirits Distillery gin and spirits school in 2019, Peter and Richard have welcomed visitors to try their hand at distilling. It’s from this ethos of experimenting and innovating with flavours and botanicals that the new Lost Loch Spirits experimental Singular Series of products grew. Covering Absinthe, Rum, Gin and more, the series of small, single batch creations has allowed the Lost Loch Spirits team to get creative. We recently caught up with co-founder and head distiller Peter (below left) to learn more about the first gin in their Singular Series of experimental spirits, Rucolino Gin.

What inspired you to create this gin?

We love experimenting at Lost Loch and over the last few years we have banked quite a few interesting recipes. The recipe for Rucolino came from an old book about world liqueurs. I’m not going to give away the name of the book as it has some very interesting concoctions we are still to release! Our ethos at the Lost Loch has always been to innovate, experiment and be creative with what we are making. Bringing a product to market is a costly exercise so we wanted to create a range where we could release very small batches of innovative and tasty products under the Lost Loch brand. The Singular Series was born from this idea. We loved the colour and the taste of the Rucolino when we created the first few experimental batches and we knew it would be one of the first to be released under the Singular Series range. The first in the series to be launched was our Murmichan absinthe aged for 20 months in a Tomintoul whisky cask; second in the range was the Rucolino gin. Next came our Blended Vanilla rum, followed by our Raspberry and Stem Ginger gin.

What are some of the key botanicals in your Rucolino gin?

Rucolino originates from the Naples region of Italy where citrus fruits and rocket grow in abundance. It would have traditionally been made with a grape spirit but we wanted to create it using a grain spirt base and include some traditional gin botanicals like Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Almonds and Orris to give it a different twist from the original recipe. We then add Rocket leaves, fresh lemon and fresh orange peel plus some cloves to the mix.

What’s the distillation process?

It is a two stage process to produce Rucolino.  The first stage is the distillation of the base alcohol to be used. We distilled a neutral grain alcohol on our 500 litre still with traditional gin botanicals including Juniper, Coriander Seed, Angelica Root, Almonds and Orris Root. Once distilled we kept the distillate at still strength, which was around 75% abv.  Stage two involved the peeling of a lot of fresh lemons and oranges. We were lucky enough to rope my mother-in-law into this! Along with the orange and lemon peel, rocket leaves and cloves were added to the distilled gin. All the ingredients were sealed into a vat and left for 7 days. After 7 days we added a little sugar and re-sealed for a further 7 days. We then added a little more sugar and left for a further 14 days.  Once the month had past we started the tasting process and added water to a sample to see what the optimum abv would be based on the taste of the product. We decided on 58% abv. The Rucolino gin was then filtered and bottled onsite.

From start to finish how much time went into the creation of your gin recipe?

When creating any recipe it is the R&D that takes the time. Liqueurs are worse than spirits as the ingredients always need to macerate. We created quite a few 1 litre test batches of the Rucolino until we found the best ratios to use then we up scaled to the 500 litre still. All in all we probably spent around 2 months R&D time and around 2 months on production.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when creating your gin?

We have created quite a few gins now so we have been able to mitigate most of the challenges over the last few years. It’s been a steep learning curve and we have learnt by our mistakes. One thing I always find challenging when dealing with liqueurs is the filtration pre-bottling. For our spirits we use a 5 micron stainless steel inline filter, so we can bottle direct from the storage tanks. A liqueur has particles to deal with and there is also the viscosity to take into account due to the added sugar. When filtering a liqueur there is always a staged process using different styles of filters at different microns until the product is clear. There is a lot of transferring from tank to tank through various filters and it can be very time consuming and challenging.

Can you describe the flavour profile?

Rucolino bursts with citrus but has a peppery edge to it from the rocket leaves.  I love it with 3 to 4 parts lemonade to 1 part Rucolino. It also goes great with Tonic and Soda Water.  The Rucolino is a beautiful deep green colour but when mixer is added it turns a lovely shade of white emerald with a specular opacity. For me it’s a real summer drink; refreshing and moreish.

You can learn more about Lost Loch Spirits here.

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