Gary and Andrea Watt, Orcadians and husband and wife, started making homemade gin as a Christmas gift for family and friends. Realising how much they enjoyed the process and going by the feedback they received from family and friends, The Orkney Gin Company was established, which now includes their daughter Erin.
When setting up the business, Gary and Andrea knew they wanted to create something truly original but with a sense of heritage and connection to the surrounding land. They opted for the cold-compounding method to create their gins, infusing the botanicals in a labour-intensive bathtub method to impart the unique aroma and flavours found in their award-winning gins. The family team recently put the finishing touches on their modern purpose-built distillery next to their family home, which allows them to not only meet demand for their popular Orcadian gins but all also experiment and produce new flavours and styles including distilled spirits.
Aatta Gin is the first distilled gin from the Orkney Gin Company. Aatta in Old Norse means ‘Eight’. This gin is distilled eight times on the still to create a smooth, silky mouthfeel and truly balanced gin distilled over 24 hours using eight botanicals in the distillation. Zesty oranges, hand picked rosehips, piney juniper and vanilla combine to create a flavour profile that delivers notes of juniper, bright citrus and refreshing, sweet vanilla notes. The gin is also presented in a custom bottle that creates an optical illusion of the famous mystical Kelpie rising from the deep blue shimmering ocean.
Key Botanical(s): Orange, Rosehip, Vanilla
Gin Style: London Dry
Strength: 44% vol
Goes great with: A slice of clementine, a sprig of rosemary, tonic and ice.
Johnsmas Gin presented in a reusable stoneware bottle is inspired by the long, clear days of an Orkney Summer where the sun barely sets behind the standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar. Fragrant, fresh and light, Johnsmas Gin is crafted using a variety of handpicked seasonal botanicals from the islands and beyond to capture the clean and refreshing floral notes of midsummer. Traditionally marked by bonfires, festivals, and music, this time of year is steeped in traditional Orkney folklore.
Key Botanical(s): Orange, Heather, Rose, Mint
Gin Style: Bathtub
Strength: 41.3% vol
Goes great with: A slice of red apple or lime, tonic and ice.
Mikkelmas Gin presented in a reusable stoneware bottle is inspired by The Mikkel Feast, or the Feast of St Michael, traditionally celebrated by Orcadians from 29th September to 12th October. This celebration marks the end of the harvest and summer. The tradition still exists today with most parishes still hosting their own Harvest Home, a traditional meal and dance that lasts long into the night. Bold, seasonal botanicals are used to capture the warming autumnal spirit of Mikkelmas in a spicy, silky smooth gin.
Key Botanical(s): Cinnamon, Rose Hip, Heather Berries
Gin Style: Bathtub
Strength: 41.3% vol
Goes great with: A slice of orange or fresh ginger, ginger beer and ice.
Rhubarb Old Tom presented in a reusable stoneware bottle is inspired by the Orcadian Summer. Made in the traditional Old Tom style, which originates from the 18th century, this is a soft and lightly sweetened gin. Botanicals include juniper, cinnamon, rose and Seville orange peel all infused in large quantities of chopped rhubarb.
Key Botanical(s): Rhubarb, Rose, Cinnamon
Gin Style: Flavoured, Old Tom, Bathtub
Strength: 43% vol
Goes great with: Fresh raspberries, tonic or ginger beer and ice.
This is a limited edition of only 1000 bottles. Johannistag is a first for Scottish Gin – it’s both a Navy Strength and an Old Tom style gin. Johannistag uses Orcadian honey sourced in nearby Shapinsay to create the slightly sweeter taste. The botanicals reflect Orkney’s summer months including juniper, honey, rose and heather. Johannistag is also German for Mid Summers Day or St Johns Day. A percentage of the profits raised from the sale of Johannistag will be donated to Orkney’s RNLI, a vital service that was officially established in 1972. The crews have been awarded three medals for gallantry during their lifesaving history. Limited edition now sold out.
Key Botanical(s): Honey, Rose, Heather
Gin Style: Navy Strength, Old Tom, Bathtub
Strength: 57% vol
Goes great with: Clementine, tonic and ice.
This time last year, Orkney Gin Company released this gin as part of a limited edition gift pack, with matching tonic, in 20cl bottles. It sold out within days of release and so it’s back by popular demand, and available in their signature 50cl stoneware bottles. This gin is dedicated to a Prisoner of War Camp that housed Italian prisoners, which was based in Burray, where the Orkney Gin Company gins are produced. This is a fresh gin, with predominant lemon zing, followed by juniper warmth and sweetness.
Key Botanical(s): Juniper, Lemon
Gin Style: Flavoured, Bathtub
Strength: 43% vol
Goes great with: A spring of rosemary, tonic and ice.
The modern, purpose built distillery has been a labour of love for Gary, Andrea and their family. Their gin making started of life in their kitchen where they would cold compound their gins. They had always planned to build their own distillery so they could keep up with demand and provide a space for product development. The distillery, along with cold compounding equipment, also features a 500L still, which will be used to create a range of spirits. Currently the distillery is closed to members of the public.
Booking: Not open to the public
You can learn more about the maker by clicking the links below.