Named after the year the Peebles Hydro was built, the 1881 Distillery and Gin School officially opened in October 2019. Originally a retreat for therapeutic water treatments, the hotel attracted visitors from around the world to come and alleviate themselves of their aches and woes. Built around the Shieldgreen spring, a private spring on the hotel’s estate, the fresh and mineral rich water was said to be ‘legendary’ for its therapeutic properties. Skip to present day and such claims of health benefits remain unfounded. Over its history, a few things have remained unchanged – the rich mineral spring still flows and is used in the both the gins and tonics produced by the hotel and the hotel is still focused on creating a memorable visitor experience for guests.
Already featuring an extensive list of gins available to guests, and with growing demand for local produce including food and drink, the hotel decided to create its own distillery and gin school for producing their own range of gins, influenced by the history of the hotel and local area. Guests can learn more about the history of gin on a tour of the distillery or make their own gin at the gin school.
Distilled using 12 botanicals, many grown in the Peebles Hydro hotel's botanical gardens, home to the 1881 Distillery, then blended with water from the estate’s private spring, Hydro Gin pays its respects to the classic London Dry category. Juniper, hawthorn, birch, fir, citrus and other botanicals are carefully distilled to create a memorable gin that’s smooth on the palate and has hints of fresh forest walks on the nose.
Key Botanical(s): Juniper, Hawthorn, Fir Needles
Gin Style: London Dry
Strength: 40% vol
Goes great with: A twist of fresh grapefruit, tonic and ice.
Home to the 1881 Distillery and inspired by the Peebles Hydro's former tennis pavilion on the front lawn, Pavilion Gin features a classic gin backbone with the addition of wild Scottish red berries. In the 1920s, the hotel had more tennis courts than Wimbledon, hence this inspired flavoured gin. Along with the red berries, this gin also has a slight hint of floral hibiscus. A refreshing and light gin intended for long, warm summer evenings.
Key Botanical(s): Juniper, Hibiscus, Red Berries
Gin Style: Flavoured
Strength: 40% vol
Goes great with: A few fresh raspberries, a sprig of mint, tonic and ice.
Another expression from 1881 Distillery housed at the Peebles Hydro, this Honours Navy Strength Gin is bottled at 57% ABV and features citrus, cardamon, juniper along with a number of other botanicals that have been carefully distilled to create a bold but balanced high strength gin. The flavour profile starts with juniper before meandering into dry citrus with a long spicy, warm finish.
Key Botanical(s): Juniper, Cardamon, Citrus
Gin Style: Navy Strength
Strength: 57% vol
Goes great with: A slice of orange, tonic and ice.
Rafters Subtly Smoked Gin is the 1881 Distillery's Subtly Smoked Gin, distilled using a variety of gin botanicals including piney juniper and tart pink grapefruit. This gin has notable but subtle hints of smoke on the palate, making this a distinctive spirit. It stands up particularly well in cocktails, including in a smoked Negroni.
Key Botanical(s): Juniper, Pink Grapefruit
Gin Style: Distilled
Strength: 40% vol
Goes great with: A wedge of lime, tonic and ice.
1881 Distillery was designed and built with the help of Jamie Baxter, who is a distillery designer and a renowned distiller in his own right. He worked with resident Distiller Emma Millar to develop the four core gin recipes and four tonics that were created especially to compliment each gin. There are a number of visitor experiences available at the distillery including tours and the 1881 Distillery Gin School, where visitors can take part in a gin masterclass, picking from an abundance of botanicals and tutored through the distillation process, ultimately creating their own gin. All the while sampling each of the 1881 gin expressions.