Along with whisky, Scotland is also the high heid yin of the gin scene. The recent surge of handcrafted gin, small batch distilleries and locally foraged Scottish botanicals equate to waves of Scottish gins taking the world by storm. They’re just getting started, with over 70% of UK gin already produced in Scotland. With the view that it’s always gin o’clock, here’s our edit of the hottest Scottish gins right now.
Smooth as can be and meticulously infused with a wondrous potion of botanicals, Hendrick’s Gin is hands down the don of Scotland’s gin empire. This iconic top shelf elixir is widely considered the crème de le crème and happens to be adored by hipsters, pensioners, gin snobs and anyone else with a discerning palate. Hendrick’s takes the term ‘small batch’ seriously by creating around 500 litres each time and remains renowned for its essence of rose petal and cucumber — its magical artisanal appeal cannot be ignored.
From the same minds behind Bruichladdich Distillery, The Botanist is a true small batch artisanal treat. Islay born and bred, this beauty is praised for its spellbinding signature of 22 wild Islay botanicals foraged by two local botanists and its nine quintessential gin aromatics; orris root, cassia bark and coriander seed included. The flowery flavour is due to its double infusion process, the dose of fresh Islay Spring water and two distinct types of juniper, one of which thrives in unveiled sea level habitats found in the Rinns of Islay.
Named after the Gaelic word for ‘rowan berry’ and best served with a slice of crisp apple, Caorunn Gin is a super supreme handcrafted London Dry gin infused with five gin botanicals all locally foraged in the Scottish Highlands; rowan berry, heather, bog myrtle, coul blush apple and dandelion leaf, and is also paired with six quintessential traditional botanicals. This multi award winning small batch liquid of dreams is created by one Gin Master who draws upon Scotland’s finest water and pure grain spirit.
A force to be reckoned with responsible for putting the charming seaside town of North Berwick on the worldly gin map, NB Gin is perfection in a glass. This crystal clear liquid stays true to the London Dry Gin process and showcases eight outstanding botanicals. The credit for each superior sip is owed to the gin making prowess of the creators who started out with a makeshift still in their kitchen. Now NB has gin aficionados swooning and has been voted the ‘World’s Best London Dry Gin’, is considered ‘One of the Top 100 Brands in the World’ by Rolls-Royce and is the only gin chosen for the Queen’s 90th birthday shindigs.
Bold and refined, with each sip of Crossbill Gin comes a deeper appreciation for Highland botanicals — particularly juniper and rosehip — and the hands who harvest it. Following that appreciation comes an understanding that Crossbill is as distinct as the bird it’s named after, a bird that lives amidst the same wild Scottish juniper that gives the gin that wow factor. Between Crossbill Gin’s reciprocal relationship with the land and deep respect for the natural ebb and flow of the juniper life cycle, each tiny batch is graced with its own unique traits.
Capturing the hypnotic spirit of Orkney in a bottle, Kirkjuvagr is a firecracker of a storm strength gin from Kirkwall set to ignite the taste buds with each sip. Bold and true, this gin is a wondrous fusion of Orkney’s Norse heritage, contemporary times, legend and a respect for craftsmanship. The wild Angelica owes credit to local folklore regarding the herb and melds beautifully with the local botanicals, ramanas rose, burnet rose and borage included.
Rock Rose is a purveyor of premium gin that tastes as pretty as the bottle it’s showcased in. A drink as honest as a Scottish sunset, this gin is handcrafted from the master distillers of Dunnet Bay Distillers in Caithness. The distinct flavour is found from a masterful potion of carefully sought out local and traditional botanicals, including rose root, sea buckthorn and rowan berries. Elizabeth, the copper pot still of Rock Rose, never fails to concoct a gin storm.
Pickering’s Gin is perfectly suited to those with a penchant for straight shots and gin that’s exceedingly smooth. As just one of the many gin emporiums leading Edinburgh’s pack, Pickering’s evolved at the hands of two entrepreneurial minds with a fancy for the finer things. The secret lies within the meticulous mixing and age-old original Bombay recipe with a few added surprises. Each gin has its own stamp; Pickering’s Gin is silky smooth and suave, Pickering’s Navy Strength Gin is self explanatory and packed with a confident alcoholic boost and Pickering’s Original 1947 Gin is noticeably crisper and balanced with the right amount of spice .
Makar takes the crown as the first gin to be distilled in Glasgow and it doesn’t disappoint. Aptly named after the Scots term for ‘poet’, this artisanal gin pays homage to juniper berries and and a brilliantly balanced flair. Heptagonal and alluring, the Maker bottle represents the times the gin is pot distilled, along with the amount of endorphin inducing botanicals. Like the city it’s created in, Makar is one in a million. Although Old Tom and Mulberry are memorable and moreish, the Maker Cask Aged Gin rests in a league of its own.
Doing the capital justice one sip at a time, Edinburgh Gin captures that inimitable quality akin to the Athens of The North, the kind that always draws you back for more. Call Edinburgh Gin, if you will, the Scottish Enlightenment round two! Born and brewed in the city, this small batch frontrunner boasts endless awards and tons of personality. Between the original juniper-heavy fresh Edinburgh Gin, Navy strength Cannonball with its juniper, lemon and faint spices, and Seaside, complete with sweet hints and refreshing essence, there’s an Edinburgh Gin for one and all.
Adding an extra shot of fun to St Andrews, Eden Mill is packed with punch, charm and exceptional flavour. The beauty lies within the dedication to traditional methods, keen sense of craftmanship and the copper pot stills. Gin lovers can take their pick from Love Gin which is a pink floral gin with hints of berries; Hop Gin which is a brilliant slick, bitter and hoppy gin that honors apricots, the aptly named Golf Gin which is infused with botanicals found flourishing in Scottish coastal courses and the 2017 seasonal number Botano Gin which is a crisp bespoke gin with orange, lemon and aromatic herbs.
Married with lemon and a marvellous mix of native botanicals, Wild Island Botanic Gin is born and bred on the Isle of Colonsay in the Southern Hebrides. This premium gin draws upon six botanicals, like flowers and leaves found on Colonsay and ten traditional botanicals too. With this one, lemon is the star of the show and helps to add that fresh, zesty flair. Wild Island is made in 750-bottle batches and makes a dream match with tonic.
The Teasmith is a Scottish gin wildcard and it work wonders. This innovative spirit calls upon all the usual botanical suspects, paying a firm nod towards juniper, orange peel, coriander and grains of paradise. But the star that sets it apart, is the tea. Between the artisanal hand-picked tea and double distilling process, The Teasmith adds a whole new layer of fun to afternoon tea sessions.
Watch out for this one — a newcomer with unrivaled smoothness. Hailing from malt whisky land, El-gin is a small batch gin described by its makers as ‘Cranachan in a glass.’ The ingredient that likens it to this moreish Scots dessert is the use of Scottish oats mixed with raspberries, other local fruits and juniper, amidst an ingenious blend of mouth-watering flavours. El-gin boasts one of those memorable tastes that hooks you in for a lifetime.
The multi award winning McQueen Gin, with its outlandish flavours and bold blends, is in a league of its own. Handcrafted in Callander, this one fulfills all gin desires while pushing the flavour frontiers with the likes of Spiced Chocolate Orange, Sweet Citrus, Mocha, Smokey Chilli and Chocolate Mint. Amazingly, each gin pairs with the flavour profiles perfectly. The Super Premium Dry doesn’t disappoint either!
Loved by all lucky enough to taste it, Lussa Gin is an adventure of unrivaled proportions in a bottle. Made on the Isle of Jura at Ardlussa, this sprightly spirit is both smooth and zesty, with punches of freshness and just the right amount of aromatic appeal. The strong presence of lemon thyme makes for fresh feelings all around, while the presence of top notch botanicals add harmonious elements like sweet, robust, spicy and flowery tones. A game changer and coherent artisanal gin.
Arbikie Highland Estate Gin mimics the magical essence of Scotland in Kirsty’s Gin and AK’s Gin, both as beautiful as the other. Distilled with honey and wheat fresh from Arbikie Highland Estate and laced with black pepper, mace and cardamom, AK’s Gin demonstrates a fine balance of botanicals and crispness. Kirsty’s Gin honours Arbikie’s Master Distiller – the immensely talented Kirsty Black – and pays homage to the encompassing ocean, land and rocks with hints of carline thistle, bilberry and kelp.