ISGD 2019 HighlightsWe reflect on the first ever International Scottish Gin Day 2019.
Published: 9th September 2019
The inaugural International Scottish Gin Day (ISGD) took place on Saturday 3rd of August 2019. An international celebration of all things Scottish Gin, the day saw members of The Gin Cooperative, our official sponsors and supporters, bars, mixologists and gin drinkers raise a glass to celebrate the occasion.
We always believed that Scotland’s gin makers and brands deserved a day to call their own. And although the day was created for members of The Gin Cooperative, who were all recognised as being the official Scottish Gins and brands of ISGD 2019, the door was left open for all of Scotland’s gin makers and brands to put on their own official event.
Just like all of Scotland’s gin makers and brands, it’s all the things you don’t see that go into making something difficult a reality. We invested the last of our life savings in developing the website and covering our costs to get International Scottish Gin Day off the ground.
We were on the phone at all hours of the day speaking to bars around the world. We co-ordinated and organised. We built friendships with others in the gin community. We collaborated. We inspired. We were inspired. We were threatened with legal action. We cried. We laughed. We called on grandparents for extra babysitting duties. We worked too many long days. We put all our love for Scottish Gin and the Scottish Gin makers we work with into International Scottish Gin Day 2019.
We sought the support from sponsors and were delighted to have a number of businesses from across the Scottish Gin and drinks supply chain see value in being associated with the day. Many of them small independent Scottish businesses, many of them family businesses, all adding value to the Scottish Gin and spirits sector. Their support was invaluable in helping us establish the day. We very much appreciate all the support from all our sponsors.
We invited others in the gin community by inviting them to be official supporters. International Scottish Gin Day was always about collaboration and working with like-minded businesses and individuals who understand the importance of how Scottish Gin is presented to the world. From Joseph Flach & Sons, a botanical merchant and supplier whose family business have been operating since 1882 and whose botanicals are used by a number of Scotland’s Gin makers to Walter Gregor’s Tonic, our chosen official Scottish tonic for ISGD 2019.
As part of ISGD 2019, we set the bar high for the day and the participants we wanted to be involved. Having built relationships through The Gin Cooperative with some of the world’s best bars, we knew we wanted ISGD 2019 to be a truly international day of celebration that featured established and respected businesses from the around the world.
We asked some of the world’s best bartenders, bar teams and bar owners to select which official ISGD 2019 Gins they would like to feature behind their bar as part of their official ISGD 2019 celebration. For many of the bars, this was the first time these gins had been made available to them. We tried to create an opportunity for all of our members and their official ISGD 2019 gins, no mean feat considering our membership currently sits at over 80 Scottish Gin makers and brands. Although some passed on the opportunity, we saw great value to the brands and businesses who took part, having their gins featured in some of the best bars in the world, featuring on their social media channels and more. We felt this was something truly unique. We’re currently following up with the bars to get their feedback on the gins, which we will relay to the gin makers who took part.
A big part of the international events was down to the official ISGD 2019 gin makers and brands who were collaborative and helped us make these international opportunities a reality. We’re very much looking forward to seeing some of these unique collaborations that we have created lead to other opportunities for the Scottish Gin makers and brands we work with.
On the day we saw social media abuzz with ISGD 2019 content from around the world, with posts from Canada, America, Germany, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Scotland, England, Ireland and more, all flooding our social media channels.
We saw a number of UK and international publications and their associated websites covering the day with several features, all focused on Scottish Gin. Our official supporters published a number of articles and features along with others in the gin community who helped us share the day. We were delighted to see support from Scotland Food & Drink who published several posts across social media highlighting ISGD 2019.
We’ve highlighted just some of the official events that took place around the world below.
The Gin Fayre presents International Scottish Gin Day – Edinburgh, Scotland
The Gin Fayre presents International Scottish Gin Day event took place in Edinburgh’s Mansfield Traquair. The day featured a number of Scotlands’s gin makers and brands and saw over 700 people attend the event. Organised by Jasmine Wheelhouse, Finlay Cowe and their team, the day was a celebration of Scottish Gin and featured a number of our stakeholders. We were also joined by Ben McPherson, MSP who is a lover of all things juniper.
Gin Palace – Melbourne, Australia
THE originator and some say founder of Australia’s gin bar scene, Gin Palace in Melbourne has been on the go now for over two decades. Tucked away down an ally in Melbourne’s CBD, at first glance chances are you’ll walk straight past the subtle purple doors. With its luxurious, opulent and timeless interior and consistently fantastic gin, cocktail and drinks menu, it remains the go to gin bar for locals and visitors.
The team at Gin Palace crafted a number of specially created International Scottish Gin Day 2019 Scottish Gin Cocktails with new Scottish Gins that had been sent and co-ordinated by The Gin Cooperative and respective gin makers and brands.
Mackintosh Gin at Bar Prince – Edinburgh, Scotland
The team from Mackintosh Gin took over the Bar Prince at The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. With a bespoke cocktail menu created to showcase the versatility of Mackintosh Scottish Gin and celebrate International Scottish Gin Day, there were a lot of happy faces. The menu featured a Mackintosh Bramble, Mackintosh Collins, Macintosh Martinez and a Mackintosh Negroni.
We caught up with the Mackintosh team at Bar Prince where we were joined by a number of our official International Scottish Gin Day Supporters including Nicola Glassford (Gin & Beer), Dan Cox (Ginteresting Times), Jenny McLaren (Jenny in Brighton), Andrew Gordon (The Gin Den) and special guest Annabel (The Gin Judge). All had travelled from all over the UK to be in Edinburgh for the first ever International Scottish Gin Day.
GinFall – Greenock, Scotland
GinFall Gin Festival celebrated International Scottish Gin Day 2019 with a Gin Festival at The Tontine Hotel in Greenock. The day included a number of Scottish Gin distillers and brands from across Scotland showcasing their gins. The event was the perfect combination of live music, gin cocktails, street food and lots of Scottish Gin drinkers.
ATLAS – Singapore
A grand lobby and bar, ATLAS graces the ground floor of Singapore’s iconic building, Parkview Square, in the historic Bugis neighbourhood. ATLAS houses one of the world’s most diverse and thoughtfully curated physical gin collections – more than 1,000 gins in all. Sample London dry gins from as far back as 1910, or the best of modern craft gins from the far corners of the world.
The team at ATLAS bar created a number of special International Scottish Gin Day 2019 cocktails and a number of classic Scottish Gin G&T’s featuring the Scottish Gins that had been sent and co-ordinated by The Gin Cooperative and respective gin makers and brands, taking their total number of Scottish Gins from 72 to 97 thanks to this year long ISGD collaborative project! Bottle photos courtesy of Benjamin Sim & ATLAS, ©Benjamin Sim & ATLAS. ATLAS bar interior photo courtesy of EK YAP & ATLAS, ©EK YAP & ATLAS.
Loch Ness Spirits – Loch Ness, Scotland
The team from Loch Ness Spirits opened their home and distillery to visitors who were treated to a real and rare glimpse inside Scotland’s only gin distillery to distil on the banks of Loch Ness. Guests were provided with a variety of Loch Ness G&T’s and cocktails whilst they were given a guided tour around the distillery. Normally closed to the public, the event saw the visitors enjoying a personal and intimate Scottish Gin experience that the Loch Ness Spirits team co-ordinated specifically for International Scottish Gin Day.
Merchant House – London, England
Tucked away on an ancient alley just off Bow Lane, Merchant House of Bow Lane is a celebration of Gin and Rum: the two spirits that launched an Empire. Merchant House’s award-winning cocktails evoke a history, with each drink telling its own part of the Empire story. Relax in their cosy and comfortable surroundings and enjoy this oasis with over 350 Gins.
Besides a number of official International Scottish Gin Day 2019 Gins available from the gin menu, there was a special International Scottish Gin Day 2019 cocktail, Baldur’s Gat, which was crafted by Lewis Hayes featuring Hrafn Gin Thought & Memory, Lillet Blanc, Mandarin Napoleon, drops of Pink Peppercorn Tincture and garnished with grapefruit zest and a spray of Timur Pepper Tincture. Baldur was the Norse God of light, beauty, love and happiness.
The Wee Farm Distillery – Forth, Scotland
Distiller and owner at The Wee Farm Distillery, Jenny McKerr, welcomed visitors to their genuine micro farm distillery in Forth, South Lanarkshire. Groups enjoyed a tour of the distillery and learned first hand how the distillery came to be with a complimentary Drovers G&T to celebrate ISGD.
Dunnet Bay Distillers – Dunnet Bay, Scotland
The team behind Rock Rose Gin, Dunnet Bay Distillers welcomed guests to their distillery for a special International Scottish Gin Day 2019 celebration. Along with distillery tours and tasting events, there was also a special International Scottish Gin Day 2019 Rock Rose Gin cocktail available at the distillery.
Martin Murray, Distiller and Co-Founder of Dunnet Bay Distillers also attended the Mey Games where he launched the Traditional Scottish Gin as part of Mey Selections, an initiative that was launched in 2005 by HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.
Bobby Gin – Barcelona, Spain
Bobby Gin is described by many of its visitors as the “temple of the Gin and Tonic” in Barcelona. Behind a bar made from antique doors, an array of spiced, infused and smoked gins are available, paired with quirky garnishes – think fresh basil, tomato, star anise and saffron.
The team at Bobby Gin put on a number of classic Scottish Gin G&T’s featuring the Scottish Gins that had been sent and co-ordinated by The Gin Cooperative and respective gin makers and brands.
Mr Foggs – London, England
Named after the renowned explorer, Phileas J. Fogg, Esq and inspired by Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days, the Mr Fogg’s Estate is a collection of truly unique, adventurous and immersive bars transporting you back to the Victorian era.
Housing an impressive plethora of gins, tonics and botanicals, Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour boasts a collection of over 150 gins, from known favourites to rare and uniquely selected gins. The talented bar team at Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour, London invited you to join them for a delectable, Scottish Gin celebration as part of their International Scottish Gin Day 2019 celebrations, which featured a number of Scottish Gins.
Kingsbarns Distillery – Kingsbarns, Scotland
Home to Darnley’s Gin, the team at the distillery put on a special International Scottish Gin Day 2019 gin making experience at their gin school along with a party on their terrace outside the main distillery. The day saw guests enjoying a variety of Darnley’s Gin G&T’s plus a very special Scottish Gin School on the day and quick fire tours of the distillery, housed in the Darnley’s Gin Cottage.
The Bothy Experience – Glamis, Scotland
Gin Bothy celebrated International Scottish Gin Day in their visitor attraction that is The Bothy Experience in the famous village of Glamis. They offered a selection of Gin Bothy Gins and specially created cocktails on the day with a tour of the bothies, learning more about the history of bothies and bothy songs, a long standing Scottish tradition at the heart of the Gin Bothy brand.
Isle of Harris Distillery – Tarbert, Scotland
Isle of Harris celebrated ISGD in true international style by inviting visitors to their distillery to pin their international home location on their ISGD Map, ideally located in the distillery’s welcoming reception. It was fascinating to see the truly remarkable spread of visitors from their originating home countries visiting the remote island of Harris, off Scotland’s West coast to experience Scottish Gin.
The Clumsies – Athens, Greece
The team behind this carefully put together space strongly believe that an all-day bar should be warm and welcoming and feel familiar. You can start your day there, as interior spaces are drenched in natural light; the ambience changes while the day progresses and people gather here for a night out. The Clumsies consistently features in the world’s best bars lists and the amazing talent behind the bar were delighted to be part of International Scottish Gin Day and experiment with some of Scotland’s craft gins.
The team at The Clumsies bar put on a number of classic Scottish Gin G&T’s and cocktails featuring the Scottish Gins that had been sent co-ordinated by The Gin Cooperative and respective gin makers and brands.
Whitechapel – San Francisco, USA
Featuring the largest gin selection in North America with over 400 gins and over 120 gin cocktails, Whitechapel in San Francisco is firmly considered a must visit and sample bar for any gin aficionado. Consistently listed in ‘The World’s Best Bars’ and ‘Top 50 Gin Bars in the World’ time and time again, it was established by award-winning and respected bartenders Alex Smith and Martin Cate along with John Park, Managing Partner of Novela.
The team at Whitechapel in San Francisco created a special International Scottish Gin Day 2019 Scottish Gin flight featuring a brand new selection of Scottish Gins that had been sent and co-ordinated by The Gin Cooperative and respective gin makers and brands.
Thanks to Deerness Distillery, Pickering’s Gin, Kirkjuvagr Orkney Distilling, Crafty Distillery, Lussa Gin and many others who opened their distillery doors and celebrated the first International Scottish Gin Day with us all.
We’re already making plans for International Scottish Gin Day 2020 and very much look forward to building on what we believe will continue to grow as the international celebration of all things Scottish Gin.
Scottish Gin Makers & Brands
The Scottish Gin makers and brands we work with made the effort and helped us create a day that we believe helped showcase Scottish Gin to the world. They sent their gins to all four corners of the world. They took part in the competitions. They took time for editorial features. They put on events. They attended events. They sought collaborations. They put their trust in us to create something that represented the spirit of Scottish Gin. Thank you to them for all the support they’ve given us and helped us achieve International Scottish Gin Day, something we can all celebrate.
Bars & Businesses
A big thank you to all the bars across the world who officially took part in ISGD 2019. Your support and enthusiasm for ISGD 2019 has been brilliant and your collaborative approach, time and help, helped inspire and motivate us. Although we did contact a great deal of bars across the UK, the response rate was low. We’re hoping now ISGD 2019 is past, that in 2020 we can welcome more UK based bars to be involved and explore how they can collaborate with the official ISGD 2020 Scottish Gin makers and brands.
Thanks to Gin Palace (Melbourne), The Barber Shop (Sydney), The Baxter Inn (Sydney), Merchant House (London), Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour (London), The Clumsies (Athens), OriGIN (Hong Kong), The Speyside Whisky Shop (Aberlour), The Torridon (Torridon), Smithies Deli & Gin Emporium (Arbroath), JJ Events (Scotland), Cranachan & Crowdie (Edinburgh), John Lewis & Partners (Edinburgh), The Street Bar and Bistro (Edinburgh), The Gardner’s Cottage (Edinburgh), Cheers Cafe Bar (Fraserburgh), beGin (Glasgow), Crossbill Gin at The Barras (Glasgow), The Parlour (Glasgow), Metropolitan (Glasgow), Billingtons of Lenzie (Lenzie), ATLAS (Singapore), Bobby Gin (Barcelona), Dry Martini (Barcelona), The Dead Rabbit (New York) and Whitechapel (San Francisco).
We were delighted to see our sponsors taking part in the day with a variety of content being shared across their social media channels. We understand that like any industry, it’s important to build good relationships with businesses and people who share similar values and ambitions. Our sponsors have our admiration and respect for the help they gave us to make International Scottish Gin 2019 a success and provide them with an opportunity to let the world see and learn more about the services they provide, which makes up part of the wider supply chain for Scotland’s fantastic gin industry.
A big thank you to: Image on Glass, Walter Gregor’s Scottish Tonic, Rankin Brothers & Sons, Scottish Gin Awards, Joseph Flach & Sons, Zulo Web Design.
International Scottish Gin Day 2019 Chosen Charity
We set aside one sponsorship slot for a Scottish charity that was provided free of charge. The purpose of this was to let them use the International Scottish Gin Day platform as a way of highlighting the work of the charity to our audience. For us, having read his book and seen his utter determination and bravery, we gave the charity slot to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
As one of rugby’s most recognised players and having earned 61 caps in his career for Scotland, Doddie Weir OBE was diagnosed with MND (Motor Nerone Disease) in June 2017. That November, Doddie and his Trustees launched the registered charity My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to help raise funds for research into the condition and provide support to others diagnosed with MND and their families.
From early on, we knew we wanted to make International Scottish Gin Day an opportunity for the gin community to be involved. There are a lot of talented people in the gin community who produce fantastic content that add a lot of value to the story of gin and to many of the brands they feature. Reviews, features, photos. The people we’ve met and have come to know are more than just bloggers. They’re writers, photographers, stylists, and content creators, most of whom write about gin because it’s what they love.
We gave them all free rein to be as involved as they wanted to be. We made it clear from the start, and we run everything past the ASA, that they were free to engage with Scotland’s gin makers and brands and create their own content around International Scottish Gin Day. The support we’ve had from the gin community, many of whom we consider to be our friends, was amazing.
We have to give a special mention to Dan from Ginteresting Times, Jenny from Jenny in Brighton, Nicola from Gin & Beer, Andrew from The Gin Den and Annabel from The Gin Judge. All of whom made the time and effort to come from all over the UK to celebrate ISGD 2019 in Edinburgh, not to mention creating some fantastic Scottish Gin content in the lead up to and during ISGD.
Thanks to all our other Supporters and in particular Katie from What’s Katie Doing for getting so involved, plus Matt from The Gin Shelf, Dan from Manchester Food Tourist and Euan from From The Gin Shelf for their fabulous contributions and content focussed around Scottish Gin for ISGD.
Publications and Press
Our inboxes and social media alerts were very active over the course of ISGD and in the immediate days after. Alert after alert kept coming up with mentions of International Scottish Gin Day. It was great to see all of the content tied into International Scottish Gin Day 2019. It feels like the publications and press saw International Scottish Gin Day as a great chance to speak about Scottish Gin. From articles in the BBC’s Good Food website to the Spirits Business.
We were slightly disappointed to see some brands featured in these articles that we know aren’t made in Scotland, but it wasn’t for us to publicly lambast anyone after they had made the effort to get involved. If anything it just highlighted to us the need for clarity and education about where gins are being made.
We do have to give a very special mention to Scottish Field and the editorial team who have supported us from day one when we sent out the first press-release about our intention to launch International Scottish Gin Day. They have been extremely supportive and helped us share our story with their audience. We thank them all for their kind support.
Also a big thanks to the team at The Scotsman Food & Drink who helped us get the news out about the day and the build up. As people we like to deal with people. From all our interactions with Sean Murphy specifically, he’s been nothing but friendly, supportive and professional. Thanks for all your time and support.
International Scottish Gin Day 2020
We very much look forward to creating the International Scottish Gin Day 2020 strategy based on the feedback we’ve had. We believe some gin makers felt excluded because they’ve chosen not to be part of The Gin Cooperative. We want to make it clear that all of Scotland’s gin makers and brands are welcome to be involved, no one is excluded. All that we ask is that events are registered through the official website.
We’re really proud to have created a day that celebrates Scotland’s thriving gin sector and given our stakeholders an opportunity to showcase their products and brands to a truly global audience. We hope 2020 can bring lots of great commercial opportunities for those who wish to be officially involved, who value collaboration, who believe and share our principles and objectives for growing, nurturing and showcasing the wonderful world of Scottish Gin.
It has been a lot of work for just two people, especially with our young family and other businesses, but we truly believe ISGD will continue to grow year on year and we will continue to focus on supporting the businesses and people who support us. We love Scottish Gin, we have a lot of time and respect for our members and everyone who has helped us make ISGD 2019 a success. We’re already making plans for ISGD 2020, but for now we raise a glass to everyone who embraced the day and helped us showcase what we believe is fast becoming the true spirit of Scotland.