Established in 2017 by husband and wife Neil and Katie Sime, Blackford Craft Distillery and Cidery is a family run micro-distillery based out of a 19th century steading in Blackford, near the rural village of Rothienorman. Nestled amongst the rolling hills of rural Aberdeenshire, the distillery produces premium, handcrafted, small batch spirits inspired by the local landscape and Aberdeenshire’s folklore and history. From the prehistoric past and links to The Picts to tales of smugglers and coastal adventures, the distillery brings local history to life through its range of spirits.
Neil and Katie have continued to invest in the distillery space and local land with the addition of an extended bottling room and production space, ensuring all production, bottling and finishing are done by the Sime family on-site at the distillery in Aberdeenshire. The site also features an orchard with some of the apples used in the range of spirits, with long term plans to one day produce a range of Scottish Craft Ciders.
Crooked Mary Scottish Berries Gin was inspired by the infamous smuggling ship the Crooked Mary. The ship made land a number of times around the Aberdeenshire coast including one smuggling run in December 1798, which ultimately inspired the gin. The story goes that on this particular trip, the Crooked Mary made land and unloaded its cargo of gin for collection by the Kennedy Brothers. Both ship and brothers were confronted by the crown exciseman. A scuffle ensued that resulted in the death of one of the brothers. The ship and its crew however managed to escape into the night, never to be seen again. Crooked Mary Scottish Berries Gin features a range of botanicals including Scottish red berries, pink peppercorns, oats, juniper and a number of other traditional gin botanicals. The result is a refreshing gin with layers of fruit balanced with spice and creamy, rich mouthfeel.
Key Botanical(s): Scottish Red Berries, Pink Peppercorns, Oats
Gin Style: London Dry
Strength: 43% vol
Goes great with: Summer berries, Mediterranean tonic and ice.
Vesperis Gin is the signature gin from the Blackford Craft Distillery. This gin uses a variety of organic botanicals including locally sourced heather honey and apples to create a sweetness and subtle spice along with a lasting woody, pine flavour.
Key Botanical(s): Heather Honey, Heather Blossom, Coriander Seed
Gin Style: London Dry
Strength: 40% vol
Goes great with: Pomegranate seeds, tonic and ice.
Once part of the Blackford Estate, with links to Fyvie Castle, Maryfield of Blackford is a 6-acre property of woodland, fields, the former farmhouse and steadings. The steading had been neglected for several years before Neil and Katie Sime began renovating and converting the site into the current Blackford Craft Distillery and Cidery. The distillery includes a still room home to a 500 litre iStill named Jenevieve, a filling and bottling line, a cider press, an office, a tasting room, ample storage and space to grow. Neil and Katie have also been carefully cultivating several orchards around the distillery with the ambition of launching a range of Scottish Craft ciders.
Gin School: No
Booking: Not open to the public.