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The team at the Saxa Vord Distillery take inspiration from their surroundings, using local botanicals to create spirits that are completely unique and embody the place where their spirits originate. This juniper forward gin was inspired by the local Shetland dialect, Filska, which means high-spirited and flighty. This spirit is captured with the use of juniper, cinnamon and zesty grapefruit.
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At the very tip of the British isles lie the Shetland Islands, where the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is a place of mystery and secrets. Of long summer days and long winter nights. Of dramatic weather. Emerging from this remote community is the Saxa Vord Distillery, the most northerly in the UK, started by four people sharing a passion for producing quality spirits. The distillery is located at the northern end of Unst, the most northerly inhabited island in the UK, accessible from mainland Shetland by two ferry journeys, via the island of Yell. It is closer to Norway in distance and in culture than it is to much of Scotland.
London Dry Gin
London Dry Gin is both a flavour profile and a production method. London Dry Gins tend to follow the traditional, classic flavour of piney juniper, citrus and spice. Alongside juniper, botanicals in London Dry Gin often include orris root, angelica root, cassia bark, citrus peel and coriander, among the core botanicals. The result is a dry gin that features piney juniper along with bursts of citrus and warming spice and earthy, dry notes from use of botanicals such as cassia bark and coriander. Nothing synthetic can be added like flavourings or colours and nothing can be added post distillation apart from water and a tiny amount of sugar meaning all flavours come from distillation.
The Saxa Vord Distillery was established in the former RAF Supply Depot at the former RAF Saxa Vord in Unst Shetland. It would have stored everything that the RAF needed at the site from technical radar equipment to beds, blankets and uniforms. The owners of Shetland Reel bought the site about 12 years ago when it shut down and turned the married quarters to self-catering houses, the Sergeants Mess to a hostel and seasonal restaurant and the large building at the edge of the site just looked as though it should be a distillery, which would create jobs all year round. So in 2014, the site was converted into dedicated production facilities for the Original Gin. Gin Still Elsi (named after the Manager’s daughter) must be one of the smallest in Scotland at 100 litres, but works very efficiently and produce all Shetland Reel Gins all year round. All Shetland Reel expressions are London Dry style and involve soaking the botanicals, at least overnight, in the neutral spirit before beginning distillation. Nothing is added once distillation is complete and the only other change to the taste or nose the team might make is by maturing some of the gin in whisky or sherry casks for Limited Editions.