Misty Isle Gin – pure and refreshing like a splash of sea spray on the Isle of Skye.
It’s a fact – over 70% of the gin consumed in the UK is produced in Scotland, where distillers have perfected the art and craft of the spirit. The Scottish islands in particular are renowned for fine, artisan gins – Orkney, Shetland, Harris, North Uist, Barra, Tiree, Colonsay, Jura, Islay, Mull and the Isle of Skye.
Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul, he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.
Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Thomas and Alistair Wilson are local lads with a life-long passion for the “Misty Isle” which sparked the idea to launch the first Gin distillery on the island and capture a spiritual essence of the place in a bottle.
Alistair has a professional background in the hospitality industry, hotels, bars and restaurants around Scotland while Thomas has served in the Parachute Regiment and is a retained fireman. Ready for an exciting new challenge, they decided to join forces to create their own speciality Skye gin, selecting the key botanicals, foraging juniper berries and experimenting with recipes. Another key ingredient is sourced near the distillery at Portree – the crystal clear, spring water from the Storr Lochs.
Misty Isle Gin was launched in early February 2017, with exceptional success: Gold Medal and Distilled Gin of the Year, Scottish Gin Awards, 2018, Silver, World Gin Awards and Gold, London Spirits Competition.
“Provenance is everything – that abiding sense of belonging and community. Over time, we have perfected our recipe; a marriage of waters from the Storr Lochs and the right balance of the finest botanicals. It has taken patience and judgement, but some things cannot be rushed”. Thomas and Alistair Wilson
This the first gin to be produced on the Isle of Skye and a completely home-grown product, created, distilled and bottled in Portree. The name Gin itself is derived from the Dutch jenever which means Juniper, providing the essential earthy, pine notes.
Juniper berries – hand-foraged from various wild locations around Skye, slowly distilled in traditional gas-fired copper pot stills for approximately 8 hours, then vapour infused with the other ten botanicals:
Coriander seeds – the second most used botanical after juniper. Once distilled it has a complex flavour once distilled, all at once citrusy, nutty and a little spicy.
Grains of Paradise – an exotic, aromatic spice from West Africa bring a complex mix of cardamom, coriander, ginger with a hint of citrus. These tiny seeds have medicinal qualities and are an Aphrodisiac.
Orris root – the root of the Iris flower, giving a floral, parma violet aroma with sweet and woody flavours. Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans used Orris in perfumery – Channel No. 5 is thought to contain a high proportion of Orris Root.
Liquorice root – a sweet, woody botanical that has been used as a sugar alternative for centuries.
Black cubebs – an Indonesian plant; the fruits are gathered before they ripen and left to dry. similar in appearance and taste to black pepper, Cubeb berries are often paired with juniper in gin giving a soft floral, lavender aroma combined with a cracked pepper taste.
Lemon peel – the peel is dried before infusion and distillation and contributes a fresh, tart, crisp, citrus notes.
Cassia bark – similar to cinnamon with a sweeter taste and warming, earthy spiciness.
There is also one other top secret ingredient from the Isle of Skye.!
Misty Isle Gin is described by its creators as “ Juniper heavy but not too floral with earthy undertones, a hint of spice, with subtle flavours of citrus and a refreshing aftertaste.” The suggested serve is with a Scottish or premium tonic water, garnished with a twist of fresh orange peel.
Before even tasting the Misty Isle gin, first admire the stunning design of the glass bottle, its thick curved, craggy, jagged shape – so comfortable to hold – appears to have been carved out of an ice-covered mountain.
This represents the Old Man of Storr and the majestic mountain range of the Cuillins is artistically illustrated on the label. The copper foil reflects the gin stills and each bottle of Misty Isle is unique with its own different twisted top.
The neat gin taste test
Aroma: A mellow floral and rich earthy scent
Palate: A spicy kick balanced by sweet citrus notes with a delicate salty tang.
Finish: Beautifully, intensely smooth with lingering, woodland pine aftertaste.
The G&T taste test
Pour 50 ml of Misty Isle and a good splash of Walter Gregor Scottish gin, (hand crafted on Manse Farm, Aberdeenshire), over a large block of ice and add a twist of orange peel. This pure, clear Gin from Skye is perfectly complemented by the lightly sparkling Scottish Tonic created from natural citrus flavours, quinine and Highland spring water. Be sure not to drown the gin with tonic, to allow the peppery spice and rich juniper flavour to shine, while the orange draws out the bittersweet citrus.
This ice cold G&T is so refreshing – which can be poetically described as akin to a bracing mountain trek or beach walk in the salty air.!
Misty Isle Gin is clearly of superlative quality based on the fact that it is imbued with the provenance of local Juniper berries and pure Scottish loch water. One slow, smooth sip conjures up the wild, natural landscape of Skye from glacier mountain to woodland and seashore.
“Holidayed many times on Skye and wanted something to remind me of the island. Served with Fevertree Mediterranean tonic & orange and loved it – so refreshing!” (on line review)
As a lover of a dry Gin Martini, the next test was this classic cocktail: 50 ml Misty Isle with 15 ml Vermouth, stirred gently over a large ice cube, strain into a glass and garnish with an olive or two.
Vermouth is a fortified wine with a blend of spices, herbs, roots and fruit, such as cinnamon, citrus peel, cardamom, chamomile, coriander, juniper and ginger, so the ideal partner for Misty Isle gin.
Again it’s the smooth texture which is predominant with the subtle, soft complexity of floral, herbal and spicy flavours – overall it is cool, crisp and delicately dry, with the olive enhancing the salinity. Alternatively, the zest of lemon would draw out the citrus tang.
In just three years, the Wilson brothers have planned, launched and developed the Isle of Skye Distillers into a very successful, independent family business. They have created a few different gins such as the new Misty Isle Old Tom Pink Gin with raspberries and blackcurrants grown in the distillery garden.
Tommy’s Gin was crafted in memory of their late father, Tommy Wilson, who served in the Suez invasion with the British Army. Also seasonal Christmas and Halloween gins and Misty Isle vodka.
In Portree, you can visit the Distillery Shop and book a session at the Gin School to experience hands-on tuition to distil your own bottle on a miniature copper still, and learn all about Misty Isle spirits.
The attractive, illustrated website gives an inspiring travel guide to Skye which will entice you to visit, with all information on Misty Isle products, Where to Buy and an online Shop.