Growing with Gin

Dan Rose-Bristow, Arcturus Torridon Gin.

Published: 21st May 2020

Our Growing with Gin editorial feature series looks at the growing number of Scottish Gin makers who have diversified their business or changed their career path to seek new opportunities in the world of Scottish Gin.

Discreetly tucked away at the end of Upper Loch Torridon, you’ll discover The Torridon, a luxury five star highland hotel. The owners Dan and Rohaise Rose-Bristow have managed to create a true highland getaway that delivers not only some of the most stunning views mainland Scotland has to offer, but a true taste of Scottish hospitality.

The hotel and estate proudly maintains a kitchen and botanical garden that provides ingredients all year round for the kitchen and an award-winning whisky and gin bar boasting over 365 malts and over 120 Scottish Gins; a warm welcome and a well filled glass to toast your time at The Torridon are in plentiful supply.

We recently caught with Dan to learn more about how the local landscape inspired them to start their own Scottish Gin brand and learn more about the challenges and highlights of living and working in the beautiful Scottish highlands.

What’s your name and what’s your background?

My name is Dan Rose-Bristow and along with my wife Rohaise, we run the Wester Ross based hotel The Torridon which has its own gin, Arcturus.

Tell us about your Scottish Gin.

Our Original Edition Arcturus Torridon Gin celebrates Scotland and our local area in every drop. Some of the most important elements we focused on when creating our gin was a flavour profile and branding and packaging that captured our local landscape and captured The Torridon. It was imperative that we used ingredients foraged from the land and lochs of the Highlands and where we could source local botanicals sensibly and with care.

We experimented with different recipes that combined our locally foraged and grown botanicals Scots Lovage, bilberries, rowanberries and kelp combined with some additional classic gin botanicals. We worked with the team at Dunnet Bay Distillers, Scotland’s most northernly mainland craft distillery, who helped us finalise, distil and bottle our premium Scottish Gin.

How has The Torridon inspired your gin range?

The unique setting at The Torridon, with the scenic mountain backdrop and rugged waters at Loch Torridon was the inspiration for our gin. Home to wild stags, our vast estate is as beautiful by night as it is in the day, when the sky comes alive with starry constellations. The night-time view is the reason we named our gin Arcturus, after one of the brightest stars in the Milky Way. Also, according to mythology, the female stag can only conceive at the rising of Arcturus and that’s why we decided to launch Arcturus during the rutting season in October 2017.

To celebrate our second year of trading in 2019, we created the Scots Pine edition of Arcturus gin. Using different ingredients foraged on our estate, Arcturus Scots Pine includes the Douglas fir, which is one of only three native pines to the UK and has existed in Scotland for nearly 8,500 years!

How do you run a successful hotel and gin brand?

Arcturus has become a natural expansion of The Torridon and completely enhances the hotel experience. The Torridon and Arcturus go hand-in-hand to reflect the very best of the Scottish Highlands experience. Throughout the hotel and with our gin, we believe in high quality service, premium experiences and creating magical memories.

The hotel team were part of the Arcturus decision process, and many helped with tastings of the gin. Staff have been fully trained to ensure they know all about Arcturus and all other gins we stock at the Whisky & Gin Bar (over 100 types of gin, 365 malts). Having the team part of the gin journey means that the story of Arcturus and its serves is relayed naturally to our guests here at the hotel. Our bar staff passionately illustrate the story of Arcturus to guests and create unique Arcturus cocktails, which change with the seasons. Arcturus is also available for guests to purchase at the end of their stay – it’s so great to have that little part of The Torridon bottled up ready for guests to take away with them!

What are some of the challenges you encountered whilst establishing Arcturus Torridon Gin?

An initial challenge in the creation of Arcturus Gin creation was ensuring we chose and sourced the right local ingredients that complemented each other, to create a taste profile that captured the essence of the Highlands, that was really important to us. Another challenge we found was sourcing sustainable packaging to use for sending out online orders.

What are some of the highlights of your gin journey so far?

We are proud to be a key player in the Scottish Gin movement and we were delighted to win a coveted endorsement in The Gin Guide’s 2019 awards, where we were a geographic high scorer. That year we also won a silver award at the 2019 World Drink Awards in the classic gin category, which was a fantastic achievement after just two years in the spirits industry!

Another recent highlight was hosting three publications for an exclusive Arcturus gin experience at the Torridon – it was great to be able to show the writers around the estate and explain the story behind the gin.

What do you think makes Scotland’s food and drink special?

Scotland is in such a special location with its rich soils and varied landscapes, you get out as much as you put into the land! Our chefs at The Torridon use the gardens as an extension of the kitchen, forming menus around seasonal, fresh and readily available produce. Scotland’s food and drink is hearty, full of tradition and made with genuine care, traits that we think align perfectly with Arcturus.

What do you think makes Scottish Gin ‘Scottish’?

I think the best Scottish gins use the surrounding landscape wisely. Botanicals, the landscape and local stories, a sense of place that ties their gin and story together as being a Scottish Gin. I also think working with a well-respected craft distiller and distillery based in Scotland, if you’re using Scottish Gin as a benchmark for quality and provenance.

What other food and drink producers in Scotland do you admire?

We feel so privileged to be amongst some of Scotland’s finest food and drink producers and there are so many in the industry that we admire. Firstly, Dunnet Bay Distillers, who distil our gin alongside their own Rock Rose Gin in a remote corner of North Scotland. A small and incredibly knowledgeable team, Dunnet Bay are real leaders in the Scottish gin industry and we’re so pleased to work with them.

Another Scottish drink producer we admire is the fantastic Cushiedoos Tonic, our official tonic partner. The ethos behind Cushiedoos mirrors many of our own attitudes to production, using only natural, local ingredients.

Other producers we look up to in the Scottish food and drink industry include; the Secret Herb Garden and Old Curiosity Gin for their take on sustainable and uniquely produced gins, using homegrown botanicals; Fuel 10k, the producer of protein-based breakfast goods, with its head office near to Inverness; Isle of Skye, a remote ale brewery; The Storehouse, a farm shop in Northern Scotland; and, Strathisla Farms, who provide top-quality beef to the Perthshire community.

What are the longer term plans for The Torridon and Arcturus?

At the end of 2019, we built a gin garden on the estate, demonstrating our dedication to growing Arcturus’ presence at The Torridon. Ultimately, the dream is to have the whole Arcturus production process on our estate, bringing together the inspiration, ingredients and distillation of the gin.

You can learn more about Arcturus Torridon Gin here.

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