Celebrating World Gin Day 2021With some of Scotland's newer Scottish Gins.
Published: 11th June 2021
Saturday the 12th of June is World Gin Day 2021. The annual celebration started as a group of friends meeting to chat gin in 2009, eventually becoming the official global day to celebrate the juniper spirit, thanks to the hard work and passion of Emma Stokes a.k.a. Gin Monkey. Emma has written a number of gin and cocktail related books, is a regular contributor to Gin Magazine and other publications as well as a respected spirits judge and active voice in the gin community. World Gin Day sees distilleries, bars, retailers, consumers and more come together to celebrate gin and with events happening all over the world, we wanted to showcase some of the new Scottish Gins that have been released so far in 2021 for you to explore and enjoy.
Hrafn Gin Valkyrie (43% ABV)
Inspired by a trip to Bruichladdich Distillery in 2017 on the west coast of Scotland, brothers Callum and Peter Sim launched their signature Hrafn Gin Thought and Memory in May 2018. The brothers have put their time and focus on creating a premium range of gins that have picked up a number of high profile awards from a number of well respected spirits competitions. Each gin in the Hrafn collection is unique and has its own signature style, taste and key botanicals thanks in part to Peter’s background in whisky, where complexity and flavour go hand in hand.
Also with the brother’s passion for history and Norse mythology, Hrafn Gin intertwines elements of Norse folklore into the brand and Scottish Gins with every bottle adorned with Huginn and Muninn. The two Ravens were said to fly all over Midgard gathering information before returning to Odin, where they would perch over Odin and his throne. Huginn is Old Norse for “thought” and Muninn is Old Norse for “memory”, something the brothers have put into each Hrafn Gin expression. A lot of thought in each Scottish Gin and Scottish Gins that create memories, sip by sip.
“Hrafn Gins are known for their smooth taste, deep flavours and long finish: our hallmarks. So, when we decided to make a lighter expression to join our range, we really had to rethink how to achieve the deeper flavours within the lighter taste. With our previous gins, our signature mandarin sits in both the bottom and middle registers of our gin, giving resonance, and that also helps achieve the long finish. With ‘Valkyrie’ we needed to replicate this across all the registers: top, middle, and bottom.
“Experimenting with various citrus fruits, we finally cracked the code with the Jara fruit. It is a semi-wild variety that has qualities of lemon lightness with the richness of limes that allows us to span it across the three tiers. Using our slow distillation technique, which creates the smoothness, also gives ‘Valkyrie’ the citrus finish that is both light and full. The traditional botanical mix is adjusted to underscore the citrus and let the zest and brightness of the Jara sparkle. My favourite serve with ‘Valkyrie’ is a classic G&T with a slice of lemon, with a deeply chilled tonic and lots of ice to keep the effervescence and sparkle for as long as possible – not that it lasts long in my glass!”
Peter Sim, Co-Founder, Raven Spirits
Learn more about Raven Spirits and Hrafn Gins here.
Sutors Flora Gin (40% ABV)
Releasing Scotland’s first signature Scottish Gin that used only Scottish botanicals along with creating their own base alcohol from scratch using Scottish grown grain, Stuart Wells and Ed Scaman, the co-founders of Sutors Gin, have put provenance at the heart of their range of spirits. The Sutors distillery overlooks the Dornoch Firth, about an hours drive north of Inverness, overlooking rural farmland, golden beaches, hills and forests and the diverse Scottish coastline.
Opting to make their own base alcohol, the friends actually started their journey into the world of Scottish Gin after Stuart wanted to create a gin for his wife’s birthday. What started as a simple idea lead the friends down a distillation path for four years before they launched their signature Sutors Gin in October 2019, having experimented with botanicals and distillates, the malting process, optimal grain bills. Stuart and Ed threw themselves into the project working with local farmers to grow, nurture and harvest the best grain that is used to create the base spirit.
“We developed Flora because we wanted to create a different, lighter gin to Sutors Original. In our garden we had Hearts Ease flowers popping up, a few years ago I had the kids collect some of them and we had made violet syrup and also crystallised flowers. Personally, I love the flavour and Creme de Violette is one of the ingredients in my favourite cocktail – The Aviation. The plan was hatched to create a gin with the violet flavour and the search was on for complementary plants that would work. Ultimately we selected Elderflower, Sweet Cicely, Sweet Woodruff, Hawthorn flowers with a dash of Douglas Fir needles, and a smidgen of bay. We paired the flowers with a wheat spirit for a lighter G&T with a juniper/floral nose and light floral flavours – spring in the Highlands distilled.”
Stuart Wells, Co-Founder, Sutors Gin
Learn more about Sutors Gin here.
LBD Latitude Strength Gin (57.2% ABV)
“Forage what we can, grow what we can’t and only buy what we cannot grow or forage sustainably”. Those are the principles that the co-founders of Little Brown Dog Spirits distil by. Having experimented with spirits since 2013, sharing whisky cask samples with friends, learning, visiting distilleries, attending events along with developing more complex spirits projects under the Little Brown Dog Spirits label, Andrew Smith joined forces with friend Chris Reid in 2018 to establish their own micro distillery.
Although a relatively new distillery based in rural Aberdeenshire, Andrew, Chris and the Little Brown Dog have released a variety of exciting spirits over the last few years including Project AFG, their signature LBD Gin, whisky bottling, experimental spirits and more. Thanks to their location in Aberdeenshire, Andrew and Chris have been able to sustainably forage a number of botanicals from their local landscape and have continued to look at ways of improving sustainability, including investment in bee hives, which now sit close to the distillery so they can use their own Aberdeenshire bee pollen.
“When we made our Latitude Strength version of LBD Gin, we wanted to recreate the sensation of poking your napper in the spirit vats and taking a great big sniff. It’s one of the pleasures of the job, lifting the lid on the 200 litre gin tank and getting a hefty waft of pinine (not a typo) and citrus goodness. So we went a bit spinal tap and turned everything up to 11.
“Unlike other distillers who agonise over recipe tweaks to perfect the balance of botanicals in their higher strength gins, we just put less water in after distilling. And it works. Our LBD Gin Unlimited Edition already has a really high oil content and at the higher strength it just sings louder. More mouth feel, more citrus, more petrichor. We called it Latitude Strength because its 57.2% ABV and we distil it at 57.2 degrees north, which is handily 0.2% above Navy Strength. If we were at 26.8 degrees north, we’d have had to move the distillery.
“We don’t do signature serves as you know but Latitude Strength will punch its way though a gimlet, or give you a really silky martini with a majestic louch. Or just enjoy it neat and let it coat your mouth with each sip.”
Andrew Smith, Co-Founder, LBD Spirits
Learn more about Little Brown Dog Spirits and LBD Gins here.
Red Door Gin Summer Botanicals (45% ABV)
The second release in their seasonal edition of Scottish Gin expressions, Red Door Gin Summer Botanicals includes bergamot, rose petals, holy thistle and raspberries along with the classic gin botanicals that feature in the signature Red Door Gin.
Distilled at the Red Door Distillery and Gin experience that forms part of the larger Benromach Distillery in Forres, Moray, the gin is distilled in Peggy, a bespoke copper gin still. Peggy features a special botanical chamber that allows the distillation process to capture some of the more delicate botanical flavours that can sometimes be lost when mixed with the alcohol and water in the still.
“Red Door Highland Gin with Summer Botanicals combines bright aromatic bergamot with the fresh citrus bite of bitter orange, balanced by delicate floral notes of rose petals and fresh local raspberries to deliver a delicious soft fruity finish. This Scottish gin is a great foundation for cocktail experimentation over the summer months. Or why not try our recommended serve: The Forres Fizz, combining lime, soda water, mint and cucumber to create the archetypal summer refreshment.
“As with our Winter Botanicals edition, we wanted to create a gin that encapsulates the feeling of the season. Fresh and fruity, Red Door Highland Gin with Summer Botanicals has a balance of flavour that works brilliantly in a classic G&T garnished with raspberries, and mixes perfectly in delectable fruit-based cocktails.”
David Thomson, Brand Manager, Red Door Gin
Learn more about Benromach Distillery and Red Door Gins here.
LoneWolf Peach & Passion Fruit Gin (40% ABV)
Working from their distilling HQ in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Steven Kersley and the distillation team produce a range of spirits including botanical rums and the LoneWolf range of Scottish Gins. One of a select few of Scotland’s gin makers who produce their own base alcohol, the distillery is equipped with the world’s only triple bubble still and one of the tallest rectification columns in Europe at 18 meters high along with a number of Arnold Holstein stills. It could be described as a distillers playground but every part of the distillery has been carefully designed to provide the distilling team with the means to have full control over every aspect of every product.
“Launching a Peach & Passionfruit gin might seem a bit of a curve-ball for LoneWolf as this flavour combination takes our classic London Dry in a whole new direction. It came about from the success of our LoneWolf 12 Gins of Christmas advent calendar, which included a white peach gin. Feedback on the peach was really positive so we decided to play around with complementary flavours, finding that passion fruit added bold tropical notes and yuzu really dialled up the citrus bite alongside grapefruit and lemon peel. These all sit alongside the synonymous juniper notes of LoneWolf gin. The result is a serious summer crowd pleaser, best served with tonic and a slice of fresh peach.”
Steven Kersley, Head Distiller, Brewdog Distilling Co.
Learn more about BrewDog Distilling Co. and LoneWolf Gins here.
Rock Rose Citrus Coastal Edition Gin (41.5% ABV)
Claire and Martin Murray, the co-founders of Dunnet Bay Distillers launched their first gin expression in 2014 along with establishing Scotland’s most northerly mainland gin distillery. Working with a local forager, Martin and Claire soon discovered that the rich and rugged landscape surrounding the distillery could provide a bounty of botanicals right on their doorstep. Of course it goes without saying that the Scottish climate isn’t best suited for growing tropical fruit or citrus, which requires lots of sunlight and the right conditions to flourish. But mother nature is filled with wonder and there are a number of wild botanicals that contain Limonene, a flavour compound found in lemons, limes, oranges and other citrus.
Distilling on two custom stills, Elizabeth and Margaret, made by John Dore & Co., the oldest still maker in the world, both stills feature vapour baskets which allow the vapours that rise during the distillation process to be pulled through the basket extracting delicate flavours. Although the business has continued to grow, with their Rock Rose range of Scottish Gins now available in over 25 countries, Martin and Claire have always put flavour front and centre. With the opportunity to create a bespoke gin for Craft Gin Club, Rock Rose Citrus Coastal Edition was originally released in 2020 but it wasn’t until March 2021 the distillery made the gin available as part of their core range. And thank goodness they did!
“Citrus Coastal is probably the biggest risk we’ve taken with our flavour profile. We tried to make a salty gin before, but thought that the salinity was to the detriment of the gin. We kept experimenting and the liquorice salt from the Herbridean Mustard Company was a wow moment. When we added that to the gin it brought a different salinity to the drink with a lovely flavour; exactly what we’d been aiming for. With the local kelp, we created a gin that has an incredible coastal nose, just like being on Dunnet beach! Adding the lemon verbena from the garden created a lovely fresh citrus finish, which complemented the other flavours.
“We loved it as a team, but it was great to win the Craft Gin Club gin of the year for 2020 with this product. We officially launched the gin to the public in March of 2021 and the feedback has been great. My favourite serve for this gin is just a classic gin and tonic with a slice of lemon, it really doesn’t need anything more as the flavours work great. Although I am partial to a martini, so thanks to the citrus and salinity the gin also makes a lovely martini.”
Martin Murray, Co-Founder, Dunnet Bay Distillers
Learn more about Dunnet Bay Distillers and Rock Rose Gins here.
You can learn more about World Gin Day here.