Ben Lomond Scottish Gin – the distilled essence of wild berries, woodland pine and fresh mountain air
“By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond.”
Loch Lomond at the heart of the Trossachs National Park, linking the Lowlands and highlands, is the perfect destination for a relaxing escape and sporting adventure. With its thirty, tiny islands and surrounded by lush forests, the largest expanse of fresh water in Britain is dominated by the high peak of Ben Lomond.
The former Loch Lomond Distillery dates back to 1814 located near Tarbet, with a new Distillery founded in 1964 at the southern end of the loch. Today, the Loch Lomond Group produces Single Malt whisky, Single Grain Whisky and Deluxe Blends, receiving seven gold medals at the International Spirits Challenge 2020.
The distillery launched its Ben Lomond Scottish Gin in 2019, inspired by the scenic beauty of the eponymous mountain, fruit, flora and trees of the National Park. The unspoilt natural world of land and loch has inspired both the recipe and attractive, artistic design.
“On the steep, steep side o’ Ben Lomond,
Where in soft purple hue, the highland hills we view,
And the moon coming out in the gloaming.”
The chunky, tall bottle illustrates the mighty Ben, the lilac-purple glass reflecting both the glistening dark water of the loch and flowering heather on the hills, while the wooden stopper is a symbol of the surrounding woodland. Most imaginative indeed.
The bottles of this small batch, premium gin are filled, labelled and sealed by hand. With a 43% ABV, Ben Lomond is a contemporary London Dry Gin. This refers not to the city, but a specific style and process dating back to the 18th century; all the flavours must be natural, plant based botanicals, no synthetic ingredients, with nothing added after distillation except water to produce a clear, unsweetened spirit, not less than 37.5% ABV.
The finely crafted recipe is a blend of berries, flowers, herbs, spices and essential botanicals. The Rowan tree is found higher in the mountains than any of Scotland’s other native trees, blossoming with white flowers in summer, and in Autumn a burst of bright red berries.
The Rowanberries are foraged around the Loch Lomond area, including from wild trees beside the distillery.
Engrained in Celtic mythology, the Rowan tree, associated with magic and enchantment, was widely planted outside houses and churches as a protection against witches – cutting down a rowan was considered taboo in Scotland. It was known as the Traveller’s Tree as boats made from Rowan wood provided a safeguard from storms. The red berries, rich in Vitamin C, was also used to treat scurvy, and traditionally made into jams, jellies, vinegar, wines and spirits.
Oh, Rowan Tree
“How fair wert thou in simmer time, wi’ all thy clusters white.
Now rich and gay thy autumn dress, wi’ berries red and bright..”
Another key ingredient are juicy blackcurrants which are also hand-picked just north of the distillery. The rowan berries and blackcurrants are added straight into the Still during the distillation process, both integral to the natural fruit flavours.
The selection of eleven botanicals also includes Juniper to provide essential earthy notes, Coriander seed, a hint of lemony spice, Orange peel for citrus freshness, Rose petals and Orris root give a floral fragrance, Angelica Root, a dry hop-like character, Cassia and Liquorice add a touch of sweetness, and Szechuan pepper for warming spice.
So first a sip of the neat Ben Lomond Scottish Gin to appreciate the aroma and pure flavour. It’s crystal clear with a pungent, woodland scent on the nose which is followed through with floral and fresh pine notes on the tastebuds.
Next, the G&T Test. I added a few cubes of ice to 25 ml measure of gin, a good splash of Fever Tree Tonic Water (Refreshingly Light) and a slice of lime. The blend of bittersweet berries comes to the fore, with a citrus zing and a subtle lingering flavour of fruit and earthy spice. The texture is intensely smooth, clean and so fresh tasting.
The Perfect Serve, (by the master distillers of Ben Lomond Gin)
Fill a high ball glass with cubed ice; 25 ml or 50 ml Ben Lomond Gin, top up with Fever Tree Tonic; add a garnish of blackberries and slice of lime. Squeeze in a wedge of lime juice, softly stir three times to mix together and serve.
Blackcurrants have long been associated with quality alcoholic drinks, most famously the liqueur, Crème de Cassis de Dijon. (Cassis is French for Blackcurrant). The Kir aperirif was created and named by the deputy mayor of Dijon, Canon Félix Kir – Crème de Cassis with white wine and Kir Royale is the Cassis liqueur with Champagne.
The distillery has therefore wisely invented a Scottish Kir-style cocktail.
The High Road
Fill a highball glass with cubed ice, add 40ml Ben Lomond Gin, 20ml lemon juice 15ml Cassis, top up with Fever Tree Tonic, and garnish with a wedge of fresh lemon.
“O ye`ll tak` the high road,
And I’ll tak` the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye.
But me and my true love will never meet again,
By the bonnie, bonnie banks o` Loch Lomond.”
As well as the berries as a key ingredient, the addition of orange brings a refreshing tang to the Gin so what could be more appropriate than mixing up a classic Negroni. It is also most apt as the Ben Lomond Scottish Gin was launched a century after Count Negroni invented this Italian aperitivo in Florence.
25 ml Ben Lomond Scottish Gin, 25 ml Sweet Rosso Vermouth, 25 ml Campari
Pour all ingredients into a Rocks glass with a large ice cube or sphere (this melts more slowly). Stir gently for a minute or two – this is not a cocktail to be shaken. Express the zest of a wedge of orange and garnish with a twist of orange peel for a beautiful crimson-red winter warmer.
The dry, bitter flavour of the Campari is softened by the Sweet vermouth, perfectly complementing the berry- rich Gin and the sharp citrus taste of the orange sings through.
A classic Gin Martini (50 ml Gin and 15 ml Dry Vermouth, with twist of lemon or an olive) is also a fine partnership with this Scottish Gin. Experiment with your own favourite gin cocktails.
Following the success of the London Dry Gin, in July 2020, Loch Lomond Distillery launched two flavoured gins, infused with wild fruit essences, Ben Lomond Raspberry & Elderflower and Blackberry & Gooseberry.
At the Scottish Gin Awards 2020, Ben Lomond Scottish Gin was given the status of Highly Commended for London Dry Gin. And just announced (December 2020), Ben Lomond Gin has been awarded three medals from the Spirit Business Gin Masters – Gold for Raspberry & Elderflower infused gin and Silver for both the London Dry style gin and Blackberry & Gooseberry infused gin.
To protect the Scottish rural countryside which inspired Ben Lomond Gin is in a partnership with the John Muir Trust. Born in Dunbar in 1838, John Muir became a renowned explorer, botanist, geologist and mountaineer, pioneering the Conservation movement worldwide. In the USA, he was the father of National Parks to protect forests, woodlands and wilderness and as early as 1892, his motto was, ‘Explore, enjoy and protect the planet’.
Nature lovers, walkers, hikers, bikers, writers, poets and artists have flocked to Loch Lomond for centuries to experience the tranquil peace of this timeless, natural wilderness.
Beautifully packaged, with its silky smooth, aromatic flavour, Ben Lomond Scottish Gin has been artistically “painted” – a distillation of the colours, flora and fresh mountain air, like a watercolour landscape in a bottle.
To find out more about Ben Lomond Gins and buy on line, see the website: