Ever wanted to make your own gin?
Crossbill Distillery in Glasgow is running a gin school where you can learn more about gin in general while you distil your own gin recipe.
The distillery is the first to make gin using only Scottish botanicals. Their gins are made using only two botanicals, juniper and rosehip, both harvested by hand. These were originally distilled in Aviemore, but the distillery has since relocated to Glasgow.
Crossbill Gin Range
Their core gin range includes Crossbill 100% Scottish Dry Gin, 43.8% ABV, and Crossbill 200 Single Specimen Dry Gin, 59.8% ABV. The latter is made using juniper from a single-specimen bush that is approximately 200 years old. The 2020 edition of the 200 is fantastic! It is obviously limited-edition, so stock up while you still can. Of course, the next bottling may be similar, but you never really know how the harvest will be each year.
They also have a Staghorn Sumac Gin, 46% ABV (now on sale), which is great for Negronis, and a Pineapple Gin Liqueur, 40% ABV, that is a liqueur like no other! Made with caramelised fresh pineapple, Scottish juniper, ginger and thyme. The spirit is then macerated in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. It is not sickly sweet at all, and you can really detect the thyme. I love using it in tequila-based cocktails or adding it to a white Negroni.
Did you know that juniper was once one of Scotland’s largest exports?
In the 17th century, Scottish juniper was sent to Holland for genever production. It was also widely used in Britain for gin production.
Unfortunately, over time through over-harvesting and mismanagement, juniper is now one of the rarest plants in the UK. This is why Crossbill Distillery is now working with landowners and conservation organisations to maintain sustainable sources of juniper for future generations.
The Gin School
This masterclass is hosted at the Crossbill Distillery, which is located in the East End of Glasgow at The Barras. This area has a lot of history and has seen many improvements in recent years. You can now find several new shops, bars and studios in the area, bringing life into the historic site. If you visit on Saturday, there will be a market selling all sorts of bric-a-brac, fruit and veg and more.
The gin school starts with an introduction to the Crossbill brand, and you’ll learn the basics of gin making as well as more information about various botanicals.
During the two-to-three-hour masterclass, you will select your botanical basket and distil your own gin in a miniature copper pot still. All this while you sip a refreshing G&T and enjoy a few snacks. The gin school is a shared experience, so the price is for two people (£110) and you will make the gin together.
I wanted to go for a more savoury style and chose juniper, fennel, black pepper, seaweed, black cardamom, lime leaf and coriander. There is no limit to how many botanicals you can use. They have jars full of gin botanicals as well as fresh fruits and ginger to create any flavour profile you please. Jude, who joined me for the experience, created a fresh, more citrusy gin with florals and fresh pink grapefruit peel.
Once you have found all your ideal botanicals, these are then crushed with a mortar and pestle, before being added into your still. The fun part is to carefully sample the spirit throughout the distillation process. It really shows you how the flavours come together.
After distillation, the spirit is blended with water to bring down the ABV to a more palatable level. The alcohol level is measured before the bottle is sealed with wax. You will have a label to add all the ingredients on, the ABV and, the hardest part, the name of your gin.
It’s a great day out with a friend. The Crossbill Distillery gin-making masterclasses have limited capacity so make sure to book yours well in advance.
If you’d like to learn more about gin botanicals before your masterclass, check my previous article Gin Botanicals Explained.
Just to recap:
- Cost £110 (admits 1 plus guest)
- One personalised 50cl bottle of gin between the two of you
- 2–3-hour masterclass
- A G&T and snack foods
- Discounts at the distillery shop
Disclaimer: My gin school experience was free of charge as I wanted to cover the topic on the blog and bring you alternative ideas on what to do in Glasgow. As always, all photos and opinions are my own. 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.