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.
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.
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.
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.
Other signature 57˚ Skye earth + sea Cocktails:
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
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
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.
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
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).