Discovering Scottish Gin

With GlenWyvis Distillery.

Published: 14th March 2021

Discovering Scottish Gin involves inviting a Scottish Gin producer to take part in our competition Q&A feature, with questions coming directly from engaged members of our exclusive Scottish Gin Consumers Group on Facebook. The best questions are published in the final feature and the gin maker picks their very favourite question. The person whose question is selected as the favourite wins a bottle of their gin.

In this feature, we asked the members of our Scottish Gin Consumers Group on Facebook to provide their questions for the team at the GlenWyivs Distillery, home to Goodwill Scottish Gin. The questions as always were diverse covering packaging, botanicals and more, providing yet again another fascinating insight into the world of Scottish Gin.

If there was one completely outlandish botanical you’d like to try in gin, what would it be? (Sara Ramsey)

Tough question – it’s tempting to say “anything that hasn’t been used yet”, although that list is getting shorter by the day. Fresh Wasabi seems like one of those ingredients that would be initially terrible, but if you had the time, money and resources to play with it, you could find some amazing combination that makes you go “a-ha!”. Maybe. Not exactly an ingredient we can forage from the farm, unfortunately!

What was your motivation in rebranding your gin from GlenWyvis Gin to GlenWyvis Goodwill Gin P.S. I love the new bottle design! (Andrew Campbell)

As you may be aware, we are a dual producing distillery making both whisky and gin. We felt GlenWyvis was very much suited to our whisky and wanted to keep the name solely for that. In 2018 we moved our gin production in house and at the same time the decision was made to separate out the brands and rebrand the gin. This way we could launch GoodWill Gin in its new clothes whilst moving production here to our site in Dingwall. The name also lends itself to our community ethos and the “goodwill” of the people that backed our crowdfunder.

What is the hardest part about achieving consistency across batches, given that botanicals have seasonal differences? (Philip The Ginasium)

We embrace the small changes! Unlike bigger companies who are pumping our vast quantities of product, we are very much on the small end of production. As such each batch is unique in its own way as it is hand crafted and not made by a computer. We do also tend to buy a lot of our botanicals in larger volumes i.e. we may buy one year’s supply at a time so this will negate the issue of seasonal differences. Hawthorn berries are a locally picked botanical and we pick these between September and October each year. These berries are then dried out allowing them to stay fresh until the next year’s harvest.

Do you use wooden barrels for your aged gins and if so what kind of wood do you use and why? (Elizabeth Louise Williams and the winning question!)

Great question! Yes, all our cask matured gins are aged in actual wooden casks. It would probably be a bit embarrassing as a whisky distillery if we cut corners here! All casks used are made from oak but what they have held previously varies. Firstly, we have our Quercus Alba Gin. Quercus Alba is Latin for “white oak” and that is exactly what we age it in. These casks are ex-bourbon cask, releasing sweet flavours of vanilla and caramel. Next up we have our Quercus Robur Gin, this time Latin for “European oak”. These casks are ex-sherry casks – bursting with rich dried fruits. Finally, our Christmas Spiced Gin, aged in a mix of ex-whisky casks, ex-bourbon casks and ex-sherry casks!

Where do you source your juniper berries? On the working farm? (Leah Tonna)

At this moment in time our juniper is sourced from the EU. As with most of our botanicals we purchase these in bulk to try and keeps costs down. Unfortunately the farm we are based on does not have any juniper available, but our hawthorn berries are picked each year from a neighbouring farm. We would love to further develop our range of foraged botanicals. It is very satisfying being able to pick something locally and then convert it into an award-winning product!

What does a community-owned distillery actually mean and what are the benefits of being a shareholder? (Laura Gregg)

It can be a bit complicated to explain but essentially, we do not have one individual owner or parent company. Instead, we have over 3,500 people who have all invested a sum of money and all own an equal part. This is what makes things a bit different, as no matter how much you invested, each person has an equal say in the running of the company. We are setup as a Community Benefit Society as our future profits will be reinvested back into the community helping start up other new projects and ventures. Shareholders have received perks since investing such as bottles of gin or a cask of whisky, depending on their investment level. Whilst we do hope to offer small dividend payments in future years, most profits will go towards our community funding efforts. The purchase of shares also attracted 30% tax relief via the EIS scheme.

How does the distillery generate its own energy? (Mark Whittaker)

For the production of gin and whisky everything uses steam for heating. This is all fed from our 550kW woodchip biomass boiler. Woodchip is burnt inside the boiler converting water into steam. This steam is then used to heat our stills – just like big kettles! We also receive electrical energy from the farm on site renewables. These consist of a wind turbine, hydro scheme and solar arrays. Our offices are heated using air source heat pumps and all our water is pulled from an underground borehole. In the future we would love to install battery storage. This would allow us to store energy produced during the evenings and use it during peak production throughout the day. At this time these solutions are very expensive, but we are still actively looking at new and innovative ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint.

Do you have plans to do distillery tours? (Lauren Barnett)

Unfortunately, at this moment in time, this is not something we can facilitate. Whilst our distillery is situated on a beautiful hillside site, the access roads aren’t quite up to scratch. As a result of this we have a planning stipulation in place from the local council forbidding us from conducting tours. The solution to this would be to building a new access road but the costs of this are too high for us to fund right now. We have even tried submitting the option of bussing visitors up but that was still rejected. We do hope that we can welcome visitors one day, but for now we are focusing on producing fantastic products!

Do you plan to release any new gins in 2021? (Max Smith)

Right now, we do not have any plans for launching any new gins this year. 2021 is a special year for our whisky as it finally turns the magic 3 years old. We want to focus our time and efforts on this to make sure we get this right – as with all launches you only get one chance! But who knows what the future may hold – going by the past year anything can happen!

Learn more about GlenWyvis Distillery here. Distilleries Scottish Gins