Archive | May 2023

Wine lovers unite and visit Edinburgh Uncorked to experience the wonderful world of wine from Australia to Ukraine, Bohemia to New Zealand.

Diana Thompson, founder of Edinburgh Uncorked, (photo Phil Wilkinson)

An exciting, new Wine Fair, Edinburgh Uncorked on Saturday 3rd June, 2023, brings together 35 wine producers, vineyards, suppliers and experts.

A special guest is the eminent writer, broadcaster, and extremely knowledgeable Wizard of wine, Oz Clarke OBE.

Diana Thompson, with over 30 years experience in the wine and hospitality business, is the award-winning founder of Wine Events Scotland offering workshops, tutored tastings and festivals. Launched in 2016 is the very popular Fizz Feast taking place in November and so this is a very good reason to create Edinburgh Uncorked:

I have often been asked about a summer wine fair and for an event that caters for all wines, rather than just sparkling.   Oz Clarke has an incredible passion and enthusiasm for wine. There should never be anything stuffy about wine – it’s made to be enjoyed and this is the perfect way to do that.’. 

There will be exhibitors promoting wines from as far and wide as Australia, Argentina,  Bohemia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Spain, South Africa, USA, Ukraine and New Zealand … and more.

I am delighted to attend the first Edinburgh Uncorked Wine Fair. There will be an incredible range of wines to sample as well as experts on hand. The beauty of this kind of event, with such a diverse range of wines to try, is discovering something new.’

Oz Clarke

From the late 13th century, the Port of Leith was a major hub of the wine and spirits trade and when Holyrood became the official court of the Stuart kings, all royal wines came via Leith. By the mid 18th century, the leading wines imported were claret and burgundy from Bordeaux, champagne from Dunkirk, sherry from Cadiz and port from Oporto.  At that time Leith was only second to London in term of wine imports. 

Fast forward to 2023 and Edinburgh Uncorked continues this cultural tradition in the city, Great Wines at Great Prices.

Oz Clarke revealed a fascinating fact in a recent media interview about Edinburgh Uncorked: in the 1960s, just 5% of people in the UK drank wine, which has risen to 85% today.! It was during the 1960s and 70s, when the Australians inspired us to enjoy their quality, reasonably priced wines, ‘sunshine in a bottle’ leading us to explore wines from the New World.

Edinburgh Uncorked takes place at the Assembly Rooms, where the 35 exhibitors will show a range of wines – red, white, rosé and sparkling for everyday and special occasions. Indeed – there will in fact be 204 wines on offer to taste, test, sip and sample.

 Let’s take a sneak peak around:

Cockburns of Leith

This wine merchant was established in 1796 by brothers Robert and John Cockburn to import global wine and spirits into Leith and sell in Edinburgh, London and across the British Empire. Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, and King George IV were among its customers.  At Edinburgh Uncorked, you can try:

Vintage Claret, Bordeaux,  (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc).

This wine with an elegant ruby colour offers a complex, spicy nose with cherry aromas. Supple and balanced on the palate, it reveals subtle notes of liquorice and plum jam. Pair with duck, red meats and chocolate desserts.

Cockburns of Leith, Vintage Claret

Hunters Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand   

Our classically styled Sauvignon Blanc shows passionfruit and citrus characters along with grapefruit and green herbs. The multi layered palate is rich and complex with a dense fruit core.

Hunters Sauvignon, Malborough, NZ

Cap Classique, South Africa

Ken Forrester Sparklehorse MCC, Chenin Blanc

The méthode cap classique (MCC) involves a second fermentation resulting in tiny bubbles, a bright and fresh citrus aroma with hints of green apple, followed by notes of brioche and nuttiness, ideal as an aperitif or paired with light seafood dishes.

Sparklehorse Chenin Blanc, South Africa

Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs & Brut Rosé

Arguably South Africa’s most awarded sparkling wine, the Blanc de Blancs is 100% Chardonnay, rich, creamy and effortlessly elegant. The Brut Rosé is made using the same method as Champagne but because it’s from South Africa, you pay a fraction of the price. Fresh, red-fruit aromas, a rich mousse and a brioche-laden finish.

It’s all about the bubbles!”  Oz Clarke

Graham Beck Sparkling wines from South Africa

Pays d’Oc, France

Two friends Anthony Aubert & Jean Charles Mathieu in the Languedoc-Roussillon region decided to pursue a somewhat crazy dream, to create wines in their image and bring a touch of originality and modernity.

Aubert & Mathieu,  Suzy, organic chardonnay.

 ‘Organic Certified, Suzy is a surprising, pure and elegant wine. The palate is straight forward and gives way to pleasant roundness with citrus, apple and peach flavours. Sun-kissed grapes .. perfect wines for an aperitif with friends or family.

Suzy, Pays d’Oc, France

Wines of Bohemia

The Bohemia Sekt portfolio contains true speciality wines. Chateau Radyně is the oldest sparkling wine first produced 1945 winning many top awards at prestigious wine competitions in Europe and America.

Bohemia Sekt Chateau Radyne, sparkling wine.

Made from 100% Reisline grapes, notes of citrus, pairs perfectly with seafood, lobster, oysters or on its own, a delicate, balanced flavour and mature bouquet.  Excellent as an aperitif.

Chateau Radyne and other wines of Bohemia

Bruce Jack, South Africa

Drinks International magazine aims to identify the world’s most admired wine brands.  We have been included in this list for 2023 – the 4th consecutive year, to date we are the only South African wine brand who has achieved this accolade.’  Bruce Jack.

Reserve Pinotage, Breedekloof

An exceptional Pinotage: Black cherry, plum and spice on the nose introduces an explosion of black forest fruit on the palate, framed in chocolate & toasty oak.

Wines of Ukraine  

More than 10 years ago, Volodymyr Buyachok began to grow 40 varieties of grapes, new and atypical to Ukrainian wine making and in 2010 a winery was founded. In 2018, Buyachok passed away but his daughter Oksana and son Taras decided to continue their father’s endeavours. The wine is thus named Father’s Wine.

Father’s wine, VB Red Diamond Merlot

In the aroma, wild cherry, prunes, black currants, dried herbs

Father’s wines from Ukraine

Contadi Castaldi, Italy

The Contadi Castaldi winery, Franciacorta was established in the late 1980s by Vittorio Moretti and his wife Mariella, now producing around 1,300,000 bottles a year.

Brut NV sparkling wine

A great classic, characterized by a straw yellow colour with floral, citrus and fruity notes – sliced apples, ripe guava, roasted almonds, perfect with risottos.  

Champagne Piaff, France 

A Champagne House with a healthy respect for tradition and an energetic outlook on life –  champagne that balances intricacy and finesse with vibrant and fresh flavours. As they say, life is worth celebrating. 

Champagne Piaff Brut NV

Elegant yet lively with initial brioche on the nose leading to pear and apple notes, highlighted by a persistent mousse. An excellent example of a premium champagne.

Marisco vineyards, New Zealand

Sauvignon Blanc from Malborough, New Zealand has a much deserved, international reputation:

Fresh, fruity, crisp, gorgeously drinkable stuff, – no one does it better.’ Oz Clarke  

Marisico vineyards, Malborough, New Zealand

The Ned mountain, Malborough was the playground for Marisco founder, Brent Marris, during his youth. The ethos “Young At Heart” encapsulates this wine that places the energy and liveliness of adventure in every bottle.

Ned Sauvignon Blanc, Malborough

An expressive bouquet of lime zest, punchy herbs and gooseberry.

Emma Marris Sauvignon Blanc, Malborough

Vibrant, bright & focused aromas of ripe citrus dovetail into a palate of fresh lime & gooseberry.  Enjoy with freshly shucked oysters & a splash of lemon juice

Emma Marris, Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand


As well as a well-priced Montaudon Champagne, an Italian Chianti, an Australian Shiraz and a NZ Sauvignon Blanc from the Core Range, Lidl also has a selection from its special Summer Tour Wines such as a Cava Reserve and Dao Rosé from Portugal. 

A refreshing touch of blush, this wonderful Dao Rosé has the perfect balance between fruit and acidity. Expect notes of peaches and wild herbs on the palate and an off-dry finish.

Cabriz Dao Rosé from Lidl

Alamos, Argentina

On March 26, 2015, the American singer Lady Gaga uploaded a selfie with a glass of wine, Alamos Malbec. This quality wine is produced by the Catena Zapata winery with a century of family tradition, generation after generation making wines in the province of Mendoza.

Alamos Malbec 2022

On the nose, black cherry, plum, violet, and toast. Velvety, smooth, rich taste, red and blackberries, sweet spice, chocolate.

Vegan Tipples, Edinburgh

Vegan Tipples was founded in 2018 to supply quality drinks which have no animal products, not just for vegans and vegetarians, and to offer vegan/ vegetarian friends animal-free drinks at social occasions.

Thistledown Gorgeous, Grenache, Australia

Aromatic, deceptively light but with beautiful wild strawberry, spice, and slurpy, supple tannins. (suitable for vegetarians and vegans.) 

Robert Oatley, Australia

Founded by the late Robert (Bob) Oatley the Australian family business is based on a 40 year passion with their wines winning numerous awards. The vineyards abound with a vivid bloom of wildflowers providing a distinctive landscape.

Wildflower chardonnay, Australia

White peach accents offer a bright finish to this gently oaked Chardonnay. Pairs well with vegetarian, pork, salmon or poultry dishes.

Waterford Estate, South Africa

Waterford Estate can be found in the Blaauwklippen Valley, Stellenbosch, owned by the Ord family since 1968. The name combines the Ord surname with a reference to local waterfalls.

Old Vine Chenin Blanc.

The colour has a soft yellow hue, aroma of white pear and pithy grapefruit followed by elements of peach, light honeycomb and soft floral notes.

Banfi, Italy

Banfi was founded in 1978 by Italian-American brothers, John and Harry Mariani. The vineyards around Montalcino, Chianti, Piedmont and Tuscan coast create wines of great character and quality – their motto is ‘For a better wine world’. 

Brunello di Montalcino, Sangiovese

A rich, ruby red and elegant Brunello, the aroma is sweet and fruity, hints of fresh red fruit stand out, which combine perfectly with more complex notes of liquorice and tobacco.

J. Lohr , USA.  

In the late 1960s, Jerry Lohr began to create his first vineyard in Monterey County and today the winery includes more than 1,400 acres in the Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia regions with an emphasis on Chardonnay, Riesling, Valdiguié, and Pinot Noir.

‘J. Lohr makes lovely juicy wines.!’  Oz  Clarke

Arroya Seco – Bay Mist Reisling

90 points and Gold award, Monterey competition, 2023.  ‘Fun and casual. Unoaked. My goes-with-anything, toes-in-the-sand wine.’ — Kristen Barnhisel, winemaker

J. Lohr Bay Mist Reisling

This is just a brief overview of some of the vineyards and suppliers taking part and a selection of their wines. So book your tickets now and come along to sip and sample a few of the 200+ wines – with some available to purchase to drink at leisure at home.

What a perfect time of year to learn more about the diverse, delicious wines to enjoy over the smmer for picnics and parties.

Edinburgh Uncorked, Saturday 3rd June, Assembly Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh with a choice of two sessions, 12-3pm or 4-7pm.

Masterclasses with the Experts: Master of Wine, Mark O’Bryen will discuss family-owned wineries, Diana Thomson talks about wines of the Pays d’Oc region, and Oz Clarke on his favourite wines at Edinburgh Uncorked.

Food at the Fair: The Private Gourmet Chef will be offering a range of platters, Meat, Seafood and Vegetarian; pre-order on line and pay at the Fair to avoid the queue.    

For full details and book tickets for Edinburgh Uncorked, see the website:

A taste of the finest wines and gourmet food at Edinburgh Uncorked!


57˚ Skye earth and sea dry London Gin – a world class spirit evoking the wild, natural landscape of the Isle of Skye

O great island, island of my love,

The great ocean itself restless

Agitated with love of you

as you lay on the sea,

great beautiful bird of Scotland.

Sorley Maclean, from ‘The Island’

The cultural tradition and ‘spiritual’ heritage of the Isle of Skye is combined in the creation of this new Gin Distillery, founded by two native islanders, Séamus Ó Baoighill, a renowned musician and entrepreneur, and Seumas Gorman, an expert in the fine art of distilling.

The Misty Isle – Eilean a’ Cheo in Gaelic – proudly preserves its traditional music culture. At school, Séamus learnt to play the bagpipes and fiddle, and was a finalist at the BBC Young Musician of the Year 2015.   After studying music at Queen’s University, Belfast, where he developed an interest in Celtic connections through music and whisky, he wanted to start a business back home on Skye which would offer valuable employment to young islanders.

Séamus Ó Baoighill, Bagpiper and fiddle player

Meanwhile, Seumas had gained knowledge of the drinks industry through his work in bars and restaurants. Trained in distilling by Kris Dickenson, creator of Thomas Dakin Gin, Seumus experimented with local seaweed to see how it might taste in gin. Then, a chance encounter with his old school friend, Séamus Ó Baoighill led to their joint creation of 57˚ Skye earth + sea spirits. 

Seumas Gorman – happily at work in the Distillery

The evocative name, ‘earth + sea spirits’ neatly captures both the wild, unspoilt landscape of the Hebridean island as well as its legendary, romantic spirit. This is a place of dramatic scenic beauty – tranquil lochs, woodland, magical Fairy Glen, craggy Cuillin mountain peaks and seaweed-strewn sandy shoreline: The 57˚ degree represents the GPS coordinates of Skye, 57˚25′ 28.5420″ N. 

Hand-crafted, distilled, bottled and labelled at the new distillery near the foot of Beinn na Caillich, (Hill of the Old Woman), are currently two premium, small-batch gins: 57˚ Skye earth + sea London Dry Gin and 57˚ Skye earth + sea Banyuls Cask Finished Gin

Seumas explores the fusion of locally sourced and foraged wild botanicals, seaweed and kelp in order to embrace the scent and taste of unique island flavours in each bottle of 57˚ Skye earth + sea gin.

From the Earth: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Lemon Peel, Pomelo Peel, Heather Blossoms, Propano Malted Spring Barley, Rowan Berry, Yarrow, Hibiscus Blossoms, Ginger Root, Almond, Pink Pepper.

From the Sea: Dried Laminaria Digitata, Smoked Laminaria Digitata

The most inspiring news is that these two gins have already received high praise at the International Wine & Spirit Challenge.  Founded in 1969, the IWSC awards are acknowledged to be some of the highest honours in the drinks industry to champion the best spirits from around the world and seek out undiscovered talent.

At the IWSC 2022, the Banyuls Cask Finished Gin achieved a high score of 92 points and a Silver Award.   This was followed up at the IWSC 2023 when the 57˚ Skye earth + sea London Dry Gin received a near perfect 98 out of 99 points and the Gold Outstanding Award.  

What the judges said: The nose is oozing with fresh juniper notes combining with lemon peel, citrus, floral notes, coriander and cardamom, herbs and earthiness shining through on the palate. Well-integrated and good mouthfeel with overall balance and roundness showing a great typical gin’.

Out of 4,000 entries, only 100 spirits were awarded the Gold Outstanding award,  placing 57˚ Skye earth + sea gin in the top 3%, a huge accolade for a brand which was only launched in November 2022.

I am absolutely delighted – such a prestigious competition and a huge nod to the talent of our distiller, Seumas Gorman. His aim, along with that of the team, is to produce a high quality, locally-made handcrafted gin. We are a small distillery and so proud to now be recognised as a world class gin.”  Séamus Ó Baoighill

The artistic design on the bottles features the name 57˚ Skye written in pale blue lettering with the degree in orange on the London Dry Gin, and in red on the Banyuls expression, with a neat wooden stopper and stamped with an Isle of Skye trademark.

 57˚ Skye earth + sea dry London Gin a fine balance of floral and fruit flavours –  heather, blossom, rowan berry with coastal botanicals, laminaria digitate, otherwise known as kelp seaweed,  and the other usual suspects such as juniper, angelica and lemon peel.

Distillery Tasting Notes 

Nose: Full bodied – juniper, citrus, pine and hint of sweet liquorice.

Taste: A viscous, warm and pleasant mouthfeel with flavours of redcurrant, gives way to an earthy spice reminiscent of fragrant Sichuan peppers. Floral heather and lavender notes open up as a touch of aniseed and menthol coat the mouth.

Finish: The finish is long and starts sweet with hints of liquorice, honeysuckle and nutmeg slowly tapering off like a well made cologne with cedar wood and rosemary.

The Taste Test:

Aroma: sharp citrus and pine with sweeter notes of heather and lavender.  Sipping it neat first of all to appreciate the natural sweet orange and tangy lemon zestyness, then the earthy juniper with subtle hints of salty seaweed, fragrant lavender, followed by a lingering warm peppery spice.


I suggest you spritz up 50 ml, 57˚ Skye earth + sea dry London gin with a generous splash of Fevertree Sicilian lemon tonic and a slice of grapefruit, over lots of ice.  Instead of the more tart lemon or lime, grapefruit offers just the right citrus tang. After all, half a grapefruit is a popular fruit for breakfast to awaken the taste buds, while you are not likely to eat a few slices of lemon.  A sprinkle of peppercorns in this G&T would also enhance the underlying spicy kick.

Gin and Tonic with grapefruit and peppercorn

Jacobite Negroni 

As a real aficionado for the classic Italian aperitif, famously created by Count Negroni in Florence in 1919, I was very keen to sample the cleverly named Jacobite Negroni.

Why Jacobite?   According to the legendary romantic tale, after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the Jacobite Rebel, Bonnie Prince Charlie, escaped over the sea to Skye in disguise, with the help of Flora MacDonald.  

25 ml 57˚ Skye earth and sea gin, 25 ml Campari, 25 ml Sweet Vermouth

Fill a rocks glass with ice, add gin, Campari and vermouth and stir. Garnish with a slice of orange peel.

Having tried various brand gins in a Negroni, I can honestly say the 57˚ Skye earth + sea gin hits the spot with the Wow and X factor combined.  While often the Campari and Sweet Vermouth can mask the distinctive botanicals in the gin, here the pungent sea-salt and herbal juniper shine through, enhancing the sharp bittersweet taste with a smooth and harmonious, smoky-spicy aromatic flavour.  

This really is the most perfect aperitivo, which literally means to open up the stomach, and boost the appetite before dinner.   Simply, utterly deliciously divine.

Jacobite Negroni

 Other signature 57˚ Skye earth + sea Cocktails:

Hanky Panky

This is a sweet Gin Martini, originally created by Ada ‘Coley’ Coleman, the first female head bartender at the Savoy. She worked there from 1903 until her retirement in 1926 and this is her story of how her cocktail was created:

One night, the actor Charles Hawtrey came into the bar and said, ‘Coley, I am tired. Give me something with a bit of punch in it.’  I spent hours experimenting until I had invented a new cocktail. The next time he came in, he sipped it, draining the glass: ‘By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!’”

57˚ Skye earth + sea Hanky Panky 50 ml 57˚ Skye earth + sea London Dry Gin, 40 ml Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi),  5 ml Amaro (Fernet Branca)

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass and stir well with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a twist of orange and a cherry

Hanky Panky

Skye Sour

Sour cocktails feature a spirit, citrus juice like lemon or lime, and a sweetener, a delicate balance of contrasting flavours – one sip takes the palate from savoury to puckering sour to sweet, and back again. The historical origin of the Sour links to when sailors prevented scurvy on long voyages by mixing their spirit ration (rum or whisky) with lemon or lime juice.

50 ml 57˚ Skye London Dry Gin, 30 ml Lemon Juice, 15ml Sugar Syrup,15 ml Egg White,  twist of lemon for garnish

Add the gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white into a shaker and vigorously dry-shake (without ice). Add ice and shake again until well-chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist

Skye Sour

Green Skye Fizz

This is reminiscent of the famous Cuban Mojito made with rum, lime juice, sugar syrup, soda and mint.

45ml 57° Skye earth + sea gin, 5ml Absinthe, 15ml Sugar Syrup, 10ml Fresh Lemon Juice, 5ml Fresh Lime Juice, 30ml Soda Water, 4 Mint Leaves

Shake all ingredients, except soda water, over ice. Fine strain into a highball glass over crushed ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

On a hot summer day, this refreshing mint and lime infused, long drink will transport you to either the Isle of Skye – or the Caribbean!.  

The Devil’s Own

This cocktail was created in 1937 by Colin Symons and published in the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book compiled by the head bartender, William Tarling. 57˚ Skye earth + sea gin is perfectly paired with Cointreau, a triple sec orange liqueur.  Like a Negroni, the original recipe for Devil’s Own has equal measures of gin, Cointreau and dry vermouth, but you can serve with with more gin for more of a kick.  

30 or 45 ml 57° Skye Earth and Sea Gin, 30 ml Cointreau, 30 ml Dry Vermouth, a dash Angostura Bitters, slice of orange.  Fill a mixing glass with ice, add the gin, vermouth and Cointreau with a dash of bitters, stir well, strain into chilled coupe glasses, garnish with A twist of orange peel.

What other 57˚ Skye earth and sea gin drinkers say:

Possibly the most drinkable gin I’ve found.  

I’ve had it in cocktails, I’ve had it neat, and every time it’s been shockingly enjoyable. In a Hanky Panky or Espresso Martini is probably my favourite. Love the citrus notes, perfectly balanced and bang on

This is a beautifully balanced gin.  A crisp mouthfeel with a lingering warmth. My favourite for a G&T and the Hanky Panky is my ‘go to’ cocktail recipe.

Tastes like the seaside.  It’s a really fresh flavour, citrus and seaweed.

57˚ Skye earth + sea Banyuls Cask Finished Gin

This is distilled with the same botanicals as the London Dry Gin and finished in 225-litre French oak casks which previously contained Banyuls liqueur, a fortified aperitif.  

Banyuls is a sweet dessert wine made in the Roussillon region of France near the Spanish border. A handful of grape varieties are used but the most important is Grenache, left on the vine until the grapes have shriveled by the sun.  During the fermentation process, a neutral grape-based spirit is added, known as the mutage method dating from the 13th century, and finally the wine is aged in oak casks.

Banyuls is similar to a young port or Madeira in that it’s fruity with notes of cherries, plums, chocolate, raisins and sweet spices. While typically a dessert wine, Banyuls may be served over ice with a twist of lemon as an aperitif.  How imaginative of Seumas, Séamus and their team, to experiment with the distillation of their London Gin finished in a Banyuls wine cask.

The result is a golden-orange gin, juniper-rich with fresh citrus fruits, vanilla, sweet and spicy butter apple notes.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Juniper forward nose with fresh lemon and lime

Taste: Hints of spice and waxy vanilla with layers of complex orchard fruits and earthy spice

Finish: A lingering, sweet buttery apple finish

Banyuls Cask Finished gin served on the rocks with orange slice

To appreciate the layers of orchard fruits and spice, the suggested serve is simply neat on the rocks.

50 ml 57˚ Skye earth and sea Banyuls Cask Finished Gin

Fill a rocks glass with ice, add gin and stir. Garnish with a slice of orange

The Taste Test

Rather like a dram, this certainly has a strong, earthy flavour, but savour it on the tongue to absorb the underlying sweet dried-fruitiness and spice. I certainly detected the distinct layers of caramel, toasted nuts, prunes, orange peel and cinnamon – reminiscent of Christmas Pudding. 

To soften and dilute the gin slightly, I experimented by adding a dash of Dry Vermouth to create an alternative Gin Martini. 

As mentioned, Banyuls wine is similar to port – and mixing port and gin has become more popular in recent years for complex cocktails such as Port Negroni (replacing the Vermouth Rosso with port).  Similarly, Madeira too is added to Gin and Campari for a Lone Star Negroni. The late Queen’s favourite tipple was a Zaza, a Martini-style cocktail featuring Gin with Dubonnet. This French fortified sweet wine with herbs, spices and Quinine was invented by Joseph Dubonnet to help combat malaria in the French army. 

So my invention of a Banyuls-infused gin with dry vermouth is a variation on a similar theme.! 

What drinkers of Banyuls Cask Finished gin say:

Rich with a hint to spice.

Raise a glass to the marriage of the earth and the sea. Beautifully rich flavour with hints of spice. Having already tried and enjoyed the distillery’s other gin, I was eager to see if this could match it. Exceeds expectations and then some.

Wow.  A gin that’s not entirely like a gin. The juniper shines through, but it has an amazing sweetness at the end. I had it both on the rocks and with a regular tonic.

 The complexity of the flavour is absolutely delicious, highly recommend that you enjoy it neat over ice to get the full impact of the different characteristics on your palette. The subtle warming hue from the cask barrels adds to the aesthetics echoing a hint of spice.

57˚ Skye earth + sea Distillery

The new distillery and tasting room is located in Broadford, Isle of Skye where visitors can spend time understanding the traditional art of distilling and production methods as well as sampling the spirits. A selection of their gin is available to purchase in the shop. 

 Opening times: Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm. Free Admission.

Distillery Address: 1 Riverbank, Broadford, Isle of Skye IV49 9AR


57˚ Skye earth + sea London Dry: 70cl, RRP £40.99 ABV 43% available from 57˚ Skye, Master of Malt and Amazon.  (200ml bottles, £16.99, 50ml, £5.99). 

57˚ Skye earth + sea Banyuls Cask Finished Gin, 70 cl.  RRP £44.99 ABV 43% available from 57˚ Skye, Master of Malt and Amazon. (200 ml bottles, £16.99, 50ml, £5.99).

Seamas Gorman, master distiller with the two gins

Ristorante Pieno is the perfect place for a Pizza or Pasta before a show at the Theatre Royal (or a leisurely meal any time).

This is a truly family-run Italian restaurant offering a range of menus across the day, celebrating healthy, hearty and tasty Mediterranean cuisine. Roshi, his wife Annie Lennox Kanushi and their nephew, Apostole, opened their first business, Caffe Pieno in Jordanhill in 2017,  which they managed for five years. 

This was a popular neighbourhood café but they decided to expand and open an Italian Ristorante.  Finding the perfect location on Hope Street, it was all set to open in March 2020 … but sadly their plans were drastically changed.  

Coping with Covid restrictions and lockdowns, the launch of their exciting new business finally took place in May 2021. There are no less than seven members of the Kanushi family at Ristorante Pieno, with Roshi and Apostole, front of house, another nephew, Antonio as barman, Roshi’s brother and wife in charge of the kitchen. As mother of a four year old boy, Annie is at home with the important role of managing the paperwork.  The staff is also made up with a mix of friends and new recruits for the team of waiters.  

Despite the delay in opening, Ristorante Pieno very quickly wowed happy diners, critics and also the judges for Hospitality awards.The great news is that during the first year, they won Best Restaurant in Glasgow (Food Awards 2022) and also Best Family Run Restaurant (Italian Awards 2022).

Roshi, Apostole and staff proudly showing off their Glasgow Restaurant of the Year award

“We really can’t believe that we got the honour of winning the award. We didn’t go into it thinking we would win anything, we just wanted to take some of our staff for a night out to celebrate getting nominated.’

Annie Lennox Kanushi

A wonderful achievement indeed so time to plan a visit and check out what’s so special about Ristorante Pieno.  The word Pieno in Italian means being feeling full and satisfied after a superb meal – as the Australian Film Director George Miller describes in his quotation in the menu.

My partner and I arrived at 5pm for a pre-theatre supper before going to see Scottish Ballet at the Theatre Royal, which is immediately opposite so this really is the ideal address.  We were welcomed most warmly by Apostole and then looked after, with friendly, personal attention, by Danny who is from Romania.  

As this is a new restaurant, the décor and design is smart, modern and comfortable with well-spaced tables and a banquette along the far wall.  There’s also attractive artwork and vintage photographs to illustate the La Dolce Vita.

While it was quiet on arrival, by 5.30pm the place was packed with no free tables at all. Clearly everyone was off to the Ballet!

The pre-theatre menu is served Sunday – Thursday 5pm-7pm; 2 courses, £17.45 or 3 courses, £20.95.  There’s an appetising selection of Starters and Ken chose Arancini Formaggio, large, fat breaded risotto balls with peas and mozzarella, served with a green salad and tomato dip.  I had a tiny taste and the cheesy rice texture was so rich and creamy. 

Arancini Formaggio – mozzarella rice balls

As this dish is rather filling, I had Bruschetta Classica, but my goodness, what a generous portion.  Two large slices of garlic bread smothered with fresh juicy tomatoes marinated with garlic and fresh basil with a drizzle of sweet balsamic. 

Brushetta Classica – two large slices of garlic bread covered in tomato

Meanwhile, we sipped a glass or two of the House White wine, Riva Bianco (£21.95), from the north of Italy, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco, with a refreshing crisp taste.

A good choice of Italian wines by the glass and bottle

The menu is well laid out and each dish may include a series of numbers, 1 – 14, which refers to the Allergens listed at the foot of the page : gluten, celery, egg, milk, mustard, sesame seeds etc. 

Then to the main event and it just had to be Pizza.   We both chose Pizza Funghi, described as hand-stretched, stone-baked, topped with Pieno’s own tomato basil sauce, mozzarella and sliced mushrooms.

From our view on the banquette, we could see Costandini, the Pizziaolo from Romania hard at work in front of the hot oven.  I had requested a softly baked pizza with no crunchy crust and this is exactly what I was given. Simply perfect!  Ensure you are hungry before arriving for a meal here, as the pizzas are huge, 12” in diameter.  

Pizza Funghi – hand-made with love

A few other main courses on the Pre-theatre menu include favourite pizzas – Margarita, Pollo Picante (spicy chicken) and Pepperoni; Spaghetti Bolognaise, Penne Arrabbiatta, as well as Seabass and Italian beef stew. These last two dishes as well as Gluten free pasta and vegetarian mozzarella have a small supplement.   A choice of side dishes too such as Garlic Bread, Foccacia, Insalata Caprese and Fries.  

This was an excellent Italian feast so no dessert for us, but their signature Tiramisu is a classic: espresso soaked lady fingers infused with Italian liqueurs, layered with creamy mascarpone and dusted with cocoa. Or finish with a refreshing Gelato.   

Tiramasu with coffee and a liqueur to end your meal in Italian style.

There’s a similar lunch menu for 1, 2 or 3 courses, again excellent value. And if you are not rushing away, why not enjoy a leisurely dinner – the extensive  A la carte menu is very appetising with several sections covering pasta, pizza, risotto, pollo, carne and pesce.

As well as wines, fizz, beers, spirits, and soft drinks, you may be tempted by a range of Italian-themed cocktails.

Colourful cocktails, Aperol, Limoncello and Elderflower Spritz

Although just open for two years, Pieno is very popular with theatre-goers –(for a matinee or evening show, just a 2 minute stroll across the road to the Theatre Royal). Roshi and the team also welcome friends from their former cafe and new customers who are now regulars as these reviews illustrate:  

‘My family and I have been going to this wonderful restaurant since it opened and before that, to Roshi and Annie’s Caffè in Jordanhill. The food is amazing with lots of options. This is a family who cares about their customers genuinely. I will never get tired of going there’.

‘Lovely authentic Italian restaurant, food absolutely delicious and all fresh ingredients as you can view the chef making the pizza dough. A vast menu, from the 5pm two-course menu to A La Carte’.

‘Lovely food and service. Great atmosphere and location. Easy to reach by train, bus or subway. Spaghetti frutti di mare and Pizza Scoceze 10/10’

Fantastic food, excellent staff, been a few times now and never it disappoints, also very reasonably priced.

‘First time dining at Ristorante Pieno, lovely staff. The lasagne was perfect. Honestly will be recommending to friends and family to try this restaurant. Well worthy of the Best Restaurant in Glasgow Award!

As Annie explains, this is a genuinely family-run business:

We absolutely love what we do. My husband arrives at the restaurant around 8am every day and comes home after all the reservations have been seated with a smile on his face.  We, of course, are very passionate about the food we serve but the service that we provide is really what sets us apart we feel’. 

Do book a table soon to experience the warm hospitality and authentic Italian cuisine.  A great idea is a Ristorante Pieno Gift Voucher and treat someone to a meal at the Glasgow Restaurant of the Year, 2022!

Ristorante Pieno,  311-313 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3PT

Tel. 0141 332 7728