Gin

The Best Scottish Gins by Women in the Gin Biz

The Scottish gin category is growing so fast it is hard to keep up! Scotland’s gin-producing areas can be separated into six different regions, and between them they boast over 70 distilleries and hundreds of different gins. It’s impossible to sample them all, so I decided to ask some of my fellow gin enthusiasts for some advice on which Scottish gins we should be drinking right now.

Natalie from The Gin Co-operative

Both Natalie and Martin are in the fortunate position where they get to sample Scottish gins endlessly, therefore they are my go-to people to get some ideas from. It is understandable their preferences change as they taste the latest range of gins, but below are some of their current favourites.

Which Scottish Gins are you drinking at the moment? Any favourite serves?

Throughout June we enjoyed experimenting with Negronis (June was like Negroni month, not week!), which included sampling Farmers Strength from Wee Farm Distillery, Seven Crofts from Highland Liquor Co., Achroous from Electric Spirit Co., Hrafn Valhalla from Raven Spirits, Glaswegin, Old Tom Pink Grapefruit from Rock Rose and Côte-Rôtie Aged Gin from Garden Shed.
The current bottle of Scottish gin we’re enjoying is William Kerr’s Borders Gin, which has a slightly malty taste as they make their own base spirit and whisky. Lovely served with just a twist of lemon and good tonic.

Do you have a Scottish Gin you keep going back to?

Martin and I have slightly different tastes, but we share and enjoy each other’s favourites regularly. Martin’s current favourite is Isle of Harris, and I keep going back to Misty Isle.

What is your favourite style of gin, ie citrus, floral etc.?

I change my mind all the time! I would say, most importantly, we love traditional London Dry juniper-led gins. But generally, I’m partial to a floral gin, like Lundin’s Gorse Gin. I would say at the moment Martin is a fan of coastal-type gins, with delicate maritime hints and citrus mix.

More about The Gin Co-operative here.

Jasmine from The Gin Fayre

The Gin Fayre presents International Scottish Gin Day 2019, which will take place in the prestigious Mansfield Traquair in the centre of Edinburgh.

Which Scottish Gins are you drinking at the moment? Any favourite serves?

This is a hard one because there are so many! I’ll be the first to admit that I go against the grain on any recommended serve, just because I’ve played around with options and these have become my favourites. For a straight-up G&T, I’d go for a Stirling Gin with Original Tonic; for something slightly lighter, I’d choose an Esker Gin with Light Tonic and a slice of orange peel; and for something refreshing and slightly more unusual, an Orkney Gin Company Rhubarb Old Tom with Elderflower Tonic, garnished with a stick of rhubarb – if you’re feeling fancy!

Do you have a Scottish Gin you keep going back to?

I don’t actually! The ones above are what I’ve got in my cupboard just now, but there are so many out there that I’m struggling to keep up… I still have many to try myself, and I’m looking forward to doing so once I’ve clocked off from The Gin Fayre presents: International Scottish Gin Day on August 3rd!

What is your favourite style of gin, ie citrus, floral etc.?

I am a sucker for a smooth, juniper-forward gin. The more juniper-y the better, for me!

Check the Gin Fayre website for their upcoming event dates.

Katie from What’s Katie Doing

Which Scottish Gins are you drinking at the moment?

Mackintosh, Isle of Harris, Biggar, The Teasmith, Makar – cask aged and also cherry gin, Edinburgh – rhubarb and ginger (not just the liqueur, now they have made it into a ‘proper’ dry gin) and Tanqueray (for an oldie and goodie!) – I particularly like their Rangpur.

Any favourite serves?

Obviously, I have to mention the Negroni here! But I also like to try a martini, and sometimes you can’t beat a gin and tonic with a refreshing garnish (citrus or herbal).

Do you have a Scottish Gin you keep going back to?

Probably Tanqueray and Edinburgh are the only brands I’ve repurchased, mainly because since the resurgence of Scottish gin as a brand and so many new gins joining in, there are new ones to discover every month! The true test of these newer gins will be if I repurchase them going forward, and there are some that I would probably restock, like Isle of Harris, Mackintosh and Teasmith. Makar I would want to try their different versions, so I would go back to the brand, but not necessarily the same gin again!

What is your favourite style of gin, ie citrus, floral etc.?

I do prefer a citrus or herbaceous style of gin, but a juniper-led gin will always be the best after a hard week’s work when you need a gin to be a GIN!

Give Katie a follow on Instagram.

Natalie from Gin Obsessions

Which Scottish Gins are you drinking at the moment? Any favourite serves?

I’m a huge fan of Scottish gins, and to pick an absolute favourite is really tricky as it very much depends on my mood and what style of drink I fancy.

I love Daffy’s Gin and find their bottle to be absolutely beautiful. I very much enjoy drinking Daffy’s neat over ice as I find it particularly refreshing and drinkable. The inclusion of Lebanese mint as a botanical means, in my eyes, it makes a great Ginjito!

Rock Rose have a fantastic range of gins and I love their experimental limited editions. Their original gin has a gorgeous berry flavour, without being too sweet like many of the pink gins which are hugely popular at the moment.

Edinburgh Seaside Gin is my favourite of the Edinburgh collection. It has an almost soft, chalky mouthfeel and a sherbety sweetness to it which I find really scrummy. It also makes a great martini!

Biggar Gin is one of my newer favourites and was the winner of the London Dry Category in the Gin Guide Gin Awards 2018. It’s a brilliantly versatile gin which is juniper forward but with both herbaceous and spiced characteristics. It makes a fabulous gin and tonic!

Mackintosh is another newish gin which features my favourite pink grapefruit. It is again quite a versatile gin which is juniper forward, but teamed with a garnish of pink grapefruit, the floral elements of the gin really begin to come out. I quite like this one with Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic.

Do you have a Scottish Gin you keep going back to?

I have a very loyal relationship with Pickering’s Gin. We visited the distillery just after we got engaged and it was Marcus Pickering who really started my formal gin education, so to speak. As a huge grapefruit fan, Pickering’s ticks that box for me too flavour wise. Plus, the distillery and attached bar is very cool and quirky.

What is your favourite style of gin, ie citrus, floral etc.?

With gin drinking I tend to be drawn to more floral gins, or those which feature grapefruit/pink grapefruit as I enjoy the softness which it brings to the drink.

For more Gin Obsessions follow Natalie here.

Pickerings

Bernadette from Under the Ginfluence

Which Scottish Gins are you drinking at the moment? Any favourite serves?

Scottish Gin for me does have some element of terroir. The Botanist has always been one of my favourites for this. It was the first Scottish gin I discovered, and I think it left such a dramatic impression on me and my palate that I can’t help but consider a comparison when I drink other Scottish gins. When I explain this gin to people, the best description that I can give is that it’s an ode to nature, to the earth. So many rich floral and earthy notes and that lovely little tang of peat from the water is really something for me.

Drinking this is so evocative of the natural area. It’s a beautiful thing. Other distilleries are creating some amazing flavour profiles; with this in mind, Rock Rose is a good one for experimenting. McQueen is a great distillery and very inventive, with a wide chocolate selection. Hills & Harbour are relatively new to the market, but as a fully-fledged grain-to-glass process, their attention to detail is really quite wonderful.

Perfect serves are a tricky one as really it depends on the gin. I love a bit of citrus with The Botanist — I think you could easily vary between lemon, grapefruit and even orange depending on your preference. Plus, a little bit of something to bring out the herbaceous notes, say rosemary, thyme or mint.

What is your favourite style of gin, ie citrus, floral etc.?

When it comes to my favourite style of gin, it’s hard to pinpoint as it really does depend on the gin. Any of the flavour brackets can be a fantastic gin to me if it’s made well with a good flavour profile. Just to cycle back to the beginning, when it comes to Scottish gin, I would suggest this wonderful marrying of floral and earthy is most suited to my tastes. Flavour profiles that evoke those native natural lands, heaths and moors and heather whipped by wind, the dry salt of cracked earth near the sea, the fragrant aromas of bogland and sprigs of wildflowers. These sorts of things really are at the heart of Scottish gin for me.

Give Bernadette a follow on Instagram.

Nicola from Gin & Beer

Which Scottish Gins are you drinking at the moment? Any favourite serves?

I have so many Scottish Gins that I love. My favourite serves tend to vary based on different circumstances – the weather, my mood and the fruit I have in the house!

Just now I’m loving the Esker Silverglas as it’s so fresh and light. I love this just as a G&T and I garnish it as recommended, with lemon peel and mint. It’s a great way to use the mint that I grow in the garden! It is stunning and one that I really, truly love. Perfect for the summer. I tend to use a 2:1 tonic to gin ratio for this serve.

Another amazing G&T that I only discovered recently is Hrafn Valhalla. This is their newest gin and sits at 49%. It’s as smooth as silk and packed with flavour. With this guy I drink as the Raven gents suggest – 1:1 ratio with a twist of lemon peel. Outstanding.

If you’re looking for something different, Colonsay Gin sell a pre-mix bottle of Red Snapper, and it is wonderful. It opened my eyes to something I genuinely didn’t think I’d enjoy. The spice level is perfect, and it is awesome for enjoying during a BBQ in the garden. I’m sure they’re easy to make and I do have a recipe for them, but I give full credit to Colonsay for introducing me to this drink.

For winter, try The Wee Farm Drover’s Gin with spiced orange ginger ale. This has a lovely, sweet warmth that would be unreal on a winter night. Again, a simple 2:1 ratio and garnish with a dried orange wheel to smash in some extra sweetness.

Try these two in a Negroni. Makar Mulberry Aged, the sweet, smoky flavour quietly cuts through the Campari and really makes for a super enjoyable and very easy-to-drink Negroni. Next up is the slightly sweeter Garden Shed Côte-Rôtie Aged Gin. This is aged in an old wine barrique. This, honestly, is one of the best Negroni gins I have found.

Do you have a Scottish Gin you keep going back to?

I dip in and out of all my Scottish Gins… I don’t have any that I don’t enjoy, and I’d say that I generally drink them all in equal measure. So, what I’ll do is give you two gins that are on my radar and should 100% be on yours – Mackintosh and Pilgrims Original. I found these two gins to be very moreish, easy to drink and, I’d imagine, very versatile.

What is your favourite style of gin, ie citrus, floral etc.?

I’ll honestly drink any type of gin (with the exception of something ridiculously sweet). The only thing I look for is something quite “ginny”. After that I’m not too fussy. Although if the gin is overly flavoured, I don’t tend to enjoy it too much. For example, I have one from a gin club that I found to be too overpowering with rose and I literally cannot drink it. It’s not a Scottish Gin, though, so don’t worry!

Follow Nicolas’s Gin & Beer journey.

Meme from Meme Loves Gin

Which Scottish Gins are you drinking at the moment? Any favourite serves?

Crossbill is one of my favourites this year, with a slice of orange and Indian tonic.
I also like Theodore Pictish Gin in cocktails or in a G&T with grapefruit.

Do you have a Scottish Gin you keep going back to?

Gins I keep going back to are Porters Gin, Pickering’s and the Old Curiosities range.

What is your favourite style of gin, ie citrus, floral etc.?

I don’t have a particular style of gin I like. All depends on my mood.

See which gins Meme loves on Instagram.

Sandra from Juniper Chick

Which Scottish Gins are you drinking at the moment?

Caorunn Gin Master’s Cut, which you can only get through travel retail. Jules and I bought that as we were heading out to our holiday in Greece and shared it with our friends in Athens. We’ve also recently tried the Shetland Reel Simmer Gin and Strathearn Scottish Gin, bought from Lidl last year when they had a British Gin Festival promotion, a bargain at £25 a pop!

It must have been my gin radar that picked up all three gins at high ABVs – Strathearn at 47%, Shetland Reel at 49% and Caorunn at 48%.

Any favourite serves?

A standard G&T, as the above are all rather solid gins. I’m paring down on garnishes these days to let the gin shine through. I would have liked to try them in my favourite cocktails – Negroni and a Martini, but that’s for another day.

Do you have a Scottish Gin you keep going back to?

Caorunn. The blushing apple is unique in the gin world and is a very lovely flavour to work with, in particular for making sloe and damson gin. We made a batch of damson gin with Caorunn about 6 years ago and this is the best batch we’ve made. We’ve known and supported Caorunn since they launched 10 years ago.

Tanqueray 10 is another Scottish Gin that we go back to time after time. It may not be a craft gin, but it’s one of our favourites, and we call it T10. Works really well, especially in a Martini, and of course a high-proof Negroni. Can you see a theme running here?

What is your favourite style of gin, ie citrus, floral etc.?

Typically, I like citrus and juniper-forward gins. We specifically like unique gins with unique flavour profiles and it also depends on the season and where we have our gins. If it’s in the Mediterranean on a hot summer’s day, then a herbaceous gin like Gin Mare with lots of ice and a sprig of rosemary and basil is what the Gin Doctor would have ordered.

Give Sandra a follow on Instagram.

I hope the ladies were able to give you some new ideas on Scottish gins and various serves to try. Scotland’s gin scene really offers a wide variety of gins, many using unique local botanicals. Like Bernadette, I find myself going back to The Botanist on many occasions. Recently, I have been very interested in terroir in spirits and really appreciate brands like Arbikie for their field-to-bottle approach.

What is your go-to Scottish gin? Please share your favourite Scottish gins below and feel free to tag #onthesauceagain in your Scottish gin serves leading up to the International Scottish Gin Day (ISGD).

*Some of the links used are affiliate links. If you buy through the links I may receive a commission for the sale. This has no effect on the price for you.

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4 comments

  1. Thanks for the opportunity to contribute. I feel guilty only naming a few Scottish Gins when there are so many great ones out there! But all these gins are a great place to start…

    1. That’s understandable, you’re lucky to have access to such variety! Great tips, I will make a point to try some of these later on this week.

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