Scottish Gin NewsRound-Up October 2020.
Published: 1st November 2020
Our end of month round-up captures some of the exciting news from the wonderful world of Scottish Gin. From new Scottish Gin expressions to distillery openings and more. If you’ve got a story you’d like us to consider for inclusion in next month’s Scottish Gin News Round-Up then email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s fair to say that we were overwhelmed with the support, engagement and buzz of International Scottish Gin Day (ISGD), which took place on Saturday 24th October. In fact, many of our supporters, members and partners celebrated all month long; with interviews, blogs, vlogs, live tastings, reviews, competitions, cocktails and more appearing on social media in the lead-up to ISGD. Despite all that’s going on in the world, we were really pleased with the participation, and it was a positive distraction at an otherwise strange and frustrating time. We’re working on an ISGD highlights feature, which we’ll share with you all soon.
New Scottish Gins
Deerness Distillery’s Vara Gin
Deerness Distillery has been teasing us with previews of their new gin label but finally the gin is here and it’s call Vara, which is Old Norse for ‘becoming spring’, hence the beautiful puffin illustration. Puffins, or ‘tammie norries’ as they’re known in Orkney, spend most of their life at sea, but they can be found all over the cliffs of Orkney between April and August. Key botanicals include tarragon, rosemary, elderflower, lemon grass, lime, red grapefruit and cardamom. The gin is infused with pink rose petals post distillation, which gives the gin its beautiful pink colour. The gin is described as juniper-led with rosemary, citrus and cardamom undertones and a sweet pink rose finish. Learn more about Deerness Distillery here.
Kinrara Distillery’s Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Aged Gin
Kinrara Distillery has just released their latest expression and it’s a cask aged gin with a twist. It has been aged in an ex-Cabernet Sauvignon barrel from The Barossa Valley in Australia. Bottled at 57.2% abv and finished in a beautiful wax sealed wine bottle, this certainly has us intrigued. With only 350 bottles available, this is a genuine limited edition. We’ve been told it’s best served with a twist of orange and ginger ale or in a Martinez cocktail. The ageing process has resulted in a beautiful blush pink spirit. To taste, soft juniper gives way to candied orange, red cherries from the jar, toasted oak, vanilla and spice. Learn more about Kinrara Distillery here.
Isle of Skye Distillers Misty Isle Spookily Spiced Gin
A limited edition and special Halloween release, this Spookily Spiced Gin from Isle Of Skye Distillers is said to be infused with the ‘Spirits’ of Skye. An old Skye tale tells of a ‘Ghost Car’, and rumoured 1934 Austin, that travels along the old road from Portree to Sligachan, appearing only in complete darkness. Witnesses claim that they’ve been forced to pull over allowing the Austin to overtake, before it simply vanishes into the dead of night. It is thought that the ghost driver was a local church minister, who lost his mind with guilt after having been involved in a fatal accident. Botanicals include Hog Weed Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Orange and Cloves. Learn more about Isle of Skye Distillers here.
Pickering’s Gingerbread Gin
A new addition to the Pickering’s Festively Flavoured range of Scottish Gins, Gingerbread Gin delivers a warming, sweet spice flavour with a rich nose of luscious brown Demerara sugar, candied ginger and sweet liquorice. An initial zip of juniper on the palate follows quickly into fresh ginger, toasted cloves, sweet cinnamon and all-spice. A long, rich taste of vanilla and delicate orange blossom rounds out to finish. Learn more about Pickering’s Gin here.
Shetland Reel’s Festive Hawthorn Gin
The distillery team have chosen locally foraged Hawthorn berries as the key botanical in this festive release. The unique green leaves and vibrant red berries of Hawthorn evoke festive feelings, embodying the very essence of a truly special festive spirit. Utilising an abundance of Hawthorn berries, Shetland Reel has created a unique profile of gin, where mellow berry notes are complemented by the spice of the juniper berries to create a smooth gin. The gin starts off with a typical juniper spice but quickly leads into a very smooth woody and mild berry flavour. Very mellow and easy to drink neat. Learn more about Shetland Reel here.
1881 Distillery’s Tiffin Gin
This special edition gin from the Peebles Hydro based 1881 Distillery team is limited to only 100 bottles. Crafted by their head distiller Dean McDonald, they wanted to create something different, a gin that would prepare the palate for the boldly aromatic flavours associated with Indian cuisine. Rich and spicy cumin, cardamom and kaffir lime leaf play together particularly well with a bitter lemon or ginger ale mixer to tickle the taste buds. Learn more about 1881 Distillery here.
Tobermory Distillery’s Hebridean Mountain Gin
This second release gin from Tobermory Distillery is inspired by the vibrant purple heather covered mountains on the Isle of Mull. Other key botanicals include rosehip, rowan berry, tea and ginger. As with their signature gin, a splash of spirit from the Tobermory whisky stills is added to create a distinctive character, unique to the Tobermory range of gins. On the nose, an initial burst of refreshing lemon followed by sweet juniper and a slight hint of coriander and spice. To taste, rich creamy mouthfeel, sweet lemon infused rosehip with a bitter balance of rowan berry, floral hints of heather and a warming ginger spice. To finish, lemon and rowan berry linger, but are rounded with the sweetness of rosehip and a gently gingery spice. Learn more about Tobermory Distilling here.
Returning Scottish Gins
Orkney Gin Company’s Camp 34 Lemon Gin
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. Learn more about Orkney Gin Company here.
Raven Spirits Hrafn Gin Winter Edition
Alongside their signature Thought & Memory and higher strength Valhalla, the seasonal Winter edition of Hrafn Gin is back just in time for those colder days and darker nights. Bottled at 43%, Hrafn Gin is distilled using the Thought & Memory key botanicals with the addition of Omani Myrrh and rare Royal Green Hojari Frankincense to create a gin that balances juniper, citrus, spice and provides the senses with a warming glow. Learn more about Raven Spirits here.
The Old Curiosity Distillery’s Christmas Gin
The Old Curiosity Distillery has brought back their seasonal Christmas Gin ahead of the festive period. It captures the essence of the season by blending classic aromatic spices, and naturally coloured with botanicals to create a fitting rosy red colour. Cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom are the key festive botanicals distilled to create a distinctly festive flavour, while hollyhock petals give the liquid its natural festive red colouring. And true to form, once tonic added, the red spirit turns to a striking fluorescent pink. Learn more about The Old Curiosity Distillery here.
Scottish Gin News
Loch Ness Spirits win trademark battle
Loch Ness Spirits announced they had won their long drawn trademark battle during October. In an open letter dated 18th October 2020, co-founders Dr Lorien Cameron-Ross and Kevin Cameron-Ross wrote:
“After nearly three years of defending our legitimate trademarks, the appeal to have them invalidated by Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky has been dismissed. To say this is a relief is an understatement.
“We live on the banks of Loch Ness in an area where our family have been living for more than 500 years. At Loch Ness Spirits, we distil our products on-site, using botanicals that are picked from the land around us. We use our own pure water supply and bottle our products here too. When we launched our company, we couldn’t conceive calling it anything else. We literally are Loch Ness Spirits.
“We have built up our company little by little since 2015, and we have registered the relevant trademarks, without incident, along the way. In February 2018, Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky requested that we immediately stop applying the mark LOCH NESS to any alcoholic beverages, assign them the mark LOCH NESS WHISKY and to change the name of our company to something not including LOCH NESS.
“We couldn’t quite believe it when a multi-million pound, independent bottling company, with no understandable connection to Loch Ness, then applied to the Intellectual Property Office to invalidate our LOCH NESS trademarks. Right from the start, we asked for proof of their claim, and to this date, we have not seen any, despite nearly 3 years of an exhausting dispute.
“When we won the case in December 2019, we hoped that we could start looking forward again and concentrate our energies on building our company. However, our hopes were short-lived when Duncan Taylor launched an appeal. It’s been a tough year waiting for this process to play out, but we can finally rest and recharge, now that the Appointed Person has dismissed their appeal.
“Having felt threatened, bullied and forced to defend our authentic local brand, we are heartened at this correct and just outcome. We have also been overwhelmed by the enormous support we have had locally and beyond. There are thousands of kindred Loch Ness Spirits who have backed us the whole way through. We are looking forward to continuing to craft our spirits at our home on the banks of Loch Ness, giving them the provenance that they rightly deserve.
“Given the high value that others appear to have put on the iconic name Loch Ness, we want to ask the local community if they feel the same. If so, we would suggest that there should be explorations about geographical protection for the region or some other way to ensure the name Loch Ness remains legally connected to the locality.”
Learn more about Loch Ness Spirits here.
McLean’s Gin x Social & Cocktail 2GO
McLean’s Gin has partnered with Social & Cocktail Events (the team behind GinFall Festivals) to offer and deliver a huge range of fresh cocktails to all postcodes within Glasgow and Greater Glasgow (including Paisley, East Renfrewshire + lots of North & South Lanarkshire). It starts from Friday 30th October but advanced booking is required, as they’re expected to be in high demand. Some of the McLean’s Gin favourites include Summer Berry Floral Cherry, Blood Orange Negroni, and Bakewell Sling. Check out the full range and book your delivery slot here. McLean’s Gin has kindly given us access to their exclusive discount, which gives you 10% off. Use code PROM2GO10 at checkout. Learn more about McLean’s Gin here.
Behind the curtain at the Hendrick’s Gin Palace
To celebrate the two year anniversary of the opening of the Hendrick’s Gin Palace in Girvan, distillery the team released a cinematic tour of the distillery, produced by Saturday Studios. It perfectly captures the extraordinarily unusual persona of the brand whilst providing a rare glimpse into the real people and processes at the Gin Palace, home to Hendrick’s Gin. Access is strictly by invitation only, and more recently it has been closed to visitors due to Covid-19 restrictions, therefore Hendrick’s wanted to brings its peculiar process of making gin to the world, which marries the surreal world of the Hendrick’s brand whilst being simultaneously educating and entertaining. Watch the short 4 minute film here. Learn more about Hendrick’s Gin here.
Sutors Gin Charity Cycle
Well done to Sutors Gin co-founder Stuart Wells who completed a mammoth cycle of the North Coast 500 for charity during October; an epic 5 days, 500 miles and 34,000 feet! Stuart raised nearly twice as much as his £1,000 target, for local voluntary youth groups who support young people in the Scottish Highlands, providing opportunities and improving communities. In many instances, these groups receive no funding and are run by volunteers. Every penny raised goes towards the following groups – Mikeysline, Ullapool Sea Savers, Thurso Youth Club, Rokzkool Academy SCIO, Balintore Residents Group and Youth Highland. Congratulations Stuart, all worthy causes! It’s not too late to donate, just visit the fundraiser page here. Learn more about Sutors Gin here.
Scottish Gin Awards
We were delighted to be invited as tasting judges for the 2020 Scottish Gin Awards. The process and technology was expertly managed by Cara Technology, which allowed a fair and consistent judging process across all categories with judges and samples being distributed into groups and ultimately all gins blind tasted. We loved being part of the judging process, which further validates our opinion that Scottish Gin is a premium product, crafted with skill and care.
Now that the judging has taken place and the numbers crunched, the team at KD Media, organisers of the annual Scottish Gin Awards, are ready to announce the 2020 finalists on Monday 2nd November. Best of luck to all our members and the finalists.
Following months of restrictions and uncertainty around large-scale events, the KD Media team recently announced that the awards ceremony will be broadcast as a live digital event this year. It will take place as planned on Thursday 12th November 2020 and remains a private ticketed event for the gin industry but it will be of broadcast quality and provides an opportunity to extend the reach of the awards, bringing it to others from across the UK and the world. Tickets can be purchased from here.
Great British Food Magazine Awards
Congratulations to Orkney Gin Company who received the first prize/overall winner award in the Flavoured Gin category for their Rhubarb Old Tom Gin and Lenzie Gin who received a highly commended award in the Classic Gin category at the 2020 Great British Food Awards. The Great British Food Awards champion standout independent food and drink producers from across the UK, which is more important than ever this year. Judges from the world of food and drink were absolutely delighted to see so many truly innovative small companies coming out top in 2020.
The Classic Gin category is judged by drinks writer and presenter Olly Smith and the Flavoured Gin category is judged by baker and food writer Martha Collison. Martha said of Orkney Gin Company’s winning Rhubarb Old Tom Gin, “This gin is simply outstanding – and probably the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying! It is Turkish delight in a bottle, heady with rose, cinnamon and sweet rhubarb. The balance of botanicals is spot on. It is ideal for summer but I’ll happily sip it year round. Another bottle is already on my Christmas list!”
A special mention to Deerness Distillery who picked up first prize/overall winner in the Vodka category for their Into the Wild Vodka and first prize/overall winner in the Other Spirits category for their Orcadian Moon Coffee Liqueur.
Gin Masters Asia
Hrafn Gin Thought & Memory was recognised at the Gin Masters Asia, having been awarded with the only Gold in the London Dry Gin category. Nick Law, co-founder of N.I.P. Gin in Hong Kong, said that Thought & Memory was “one of his favourite gins in the tasting.”
Alongside the success of Thought & Memory, the higher strength Valhalla picked up a Gold in the Ultra-Premium category. Alex Ko, Beverage Development Manager for Hong Kong’s Tastings Group said Valhalla “offers different flavours every time I came back to it. It starts off with fresh notes of juniper berry, then transitions to a significant amount of cassia. The intensity is great.” Congratulation team Raven on these recent wins!
The Gin Cooperative on the road
Like almost everyone out there, this pandemic has seen us stay very close to home in recent months but we were able to complete some exciting and very welcome visits during October. For the Scottish Gin distilleries that remain open, they have adjusted well to restrictions and implemented appropriate health and safety measures, which means we can continue to visit for the time being.
Darnley’s Gin Cottage at Kingsbarns Distillery
Hot off the heels of our ‘A Round of Scottish Gin’ Facebook Live with head distiller Scott Gowans (watch it here), we arranged a visit to the Darnley’s Gin Cottage, which is located in the East Neuk of Fife. We visited the distillery previously in 2018 but a lot has changed since then, including the release of their Cottage Gin series. A special thanks to Scott who gave us the guided tour. It’s a truly beautiful area, distillery and gin cottage with the distillery boasting a shop, cafe, gin garden, gin school and tour so you really can make a day of it. Learn more about Darnley’s Gin here.
The Fife Arms
Thanks once again to the hospitable team at The Fife Arms, who hosted us for another photoshoot in October. Described as “Scotland’s Hottest Hotel” by the Financial Times, it’s a truly sensational, world-class hotel in the heart of Royal Deeside, and fortunately a short hour’s drive from us in Aberdeenshire. We were lucky enough to be given access to the hotel’s public bar The Flying Stag and their exclusive cocktail lounge, Elsa’s bar, where we served up over 25 Scottish Gins for our own photography archives.
The Gin Cooperative Features October 2020
Here’s a look back at the editorial features we published in October 2020.
Scottish Gin News Round-Up September – read it here.
Meet the Sponsor, Joseph Flach & Sons – read it here.
Meet the Sponsor, Vetroelite – read it here.
Meet the Sponsor, Rankin Brothers & Sons – read it here.