Edinburgh Gin – taste the true Spirit of the Festive Season
The good news this Festive season is that Gin is In. Forget mulled wine, egg nog and Champagne (well, maybe a glass or two of fizz on Christmas day), the fashionable tipple today is Gin – with tonic, spruced up in cocktails or deliciously, warming Gin liqueurs.
At the West End of Edinburgh, downstairs beneath the Rutland Hotel, is a secret Aladdin’s cave, the city centre home of Edinburgh Gin Distillery. There are two Copper Stills, named Flora and Caledonia which give a unique and iconic backdrop to the basement bar here, Heads and Tales, run by Bruce Hamilton who works in collaboration with this new venture.
Spencerfield Spirit Company founded Edinburgh Gin in 2010, creating a fresh, new juniper grain spirit with distinctive botanical flavours for a truly Scottish gin.
Which European city consumes the most gin per head of population? Barcelona perhaps, Paris, London? No, it’s Edinburgh. Not surprising really going by the history of gin making (and drinking) here over the centuries.
To learn more about the origins and heritage of Gin, book a place on one of three EG distillery tours (Discovery, Connoisseur and Gin Making Experience), which includes a tasting or two at the end.
Accompanied by a couple of friends, I joined the standard Discovery Tour led by the young and enthusiastic guide, Ewan who certainly knows everything you ever wanted to know about Gin. Fascinating facts and figures – such as that in 1777 there were eight licenced distilleries and 400 illegal stills in Edinburgh and Leith.
We heard all about the Gin Craze with a plethora of gin dens and palaces in London, through to the more civilised creation of G&T, the popular drink of Ex pat Brits in tropical outposts around the Empire. We had the chance to smell the various ingredients to make gin, including juniper berries, coriander, cloves, orange peel and other secret herbs and botanicals.
The original Edinburgh Gin blends juniper berries with the Highland scents of heather, pine and milk thistle and has a fresh, spicy aftertaste. Among other awards, it won Gold Medal at the SIP Spirits awards in San Francisco.
In recent years, Edinburgh Gin has developed imaginative new flavoured products such as EG Raspberry Liqueur and EG Elderflower Liqueur, rather like a contemporary take on traditional Sloe Gin; perfect on its own, used in cocktails or as an ice-cold summer spritzer.
For a winter warmer, a very special Rhubarb & Ginger liqueur has been launched. It’s a soft pink-peach colour and although it looks like a soft fruit drink, it has quite a kick!. I sipped it first of all, just neat – smooth, fragrant and simply the taste of winter. I then added a dash of tonic which made a refreshing aperitif.
You could also add sparkling wine, or create a Cosmopolitan-style cocktail with the addition of Edinburgh Gin. The original Cosmo in the 1920s was Gin with raspberry, not Vodka with Cranberry as drunk by Carrie and her NY friends, The Rhubarb and Ginger Gin has a sophisticated, classy, bittersweet taste – I love it.!
Be warned – the new EG Cannonball Navy Strength Gin is 57.2% ABC/100 proof. Ideal for a classic martini with vermouth and orange bitters.
And the latest tipple is the limited edition Christmas Gin which is infused with the traditional spices of frankincense, myrrh and nutmeg. There are only 200 cases of this exclusive festive season Edinburgh Gin.
Alex Nicol, managing director of Spencerfield Spirit said: “This is a bold move for us but we think it perfectly represents our innovative distilling and unique ideas for flavouring which really bring the Christmas spirit to life“.
Edinburgh Gin Distillery – 1a Rutland Place, Edinburgh EH1 2AE
t. 0131 656 2810
For tour information and booking on line: http://www.edinburghgindistillery.co.uk
Heads and Tales bar – http://www.headsandtalesbar.com
Spencerfield Spirit established in 2005, by Alex and Jane Nicol, was named the Best Small Company at the 2014 Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards.