Courtesy of the Old Curiosity Distillery, there’s a new Edinburgh gin in town and it’s in a league of its own. The best part? This beauty changes colour! In what can only be described as pure herbal alchemy, Secret Garden Gin pays homage to the power of nature with its sumptuous list of local hand-picked botanicals and enchanting colour-shifting ways. Like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland or the wildest of imaginations, this dreamy elixir is what happens when a Scottish herbologist and mixologist join forces.
Launched in 2017, the Old Curiosity Distillery is the masterpiece of Scottish herbologist Hamish Martin and co-founder Steve Ross. Together, they make quite the dynamic duo with over 50 years of drinks industry experience between them. Hamish, who is also the owner of popular Edinburgh hotspot and specialist herb nursery the Secret Herb Garden (along with his wife Liberty), left his job as a wine merchant to retrain as a herbologist in 2012.
A former successful London bar owner and avid mixologist, Steve first volunteered at the Secret Herb Garden to soak up as much herb knowledge as possible. Needless to say, both brains have whittled their gin-crafting ways down to a fine art and it’s all thanks to their insatiable passion for plants and natural ingredients.
Spread across 7.5 acres, the Secret Herb Garden is adorned with over 600 naturally grown herbs, many of which are snapped up by leading Edinburgh eateries or found within bespoke candles, beer, wine and herbal salts. This herbaceous dreamland also plays host to the largest crop of apothecary roses the UK has to offer.
Speaking of which, the seed for Secret Garden Gin was first planted after Hamish noticed and admired the otherworldly colour-changing qualities of the roses. And so, Hamish and Steve set up shop in a barn on the premises and got to work at the Old Curiosity Distillery.
Overflowing with flavour and smooth as can be, gin drinkers can take their pick from Apothecary Rose, Lavender & Echinacea and Chamomile & Cornflower. The magic happens the moment a touch of tonic enters into the equation – that’s when the gin changes colour before your very eyes. Adding to the excitement, the nose is seduced by an influx of fantastical floral aromas, each as eager as the next to stimulate the senses.
The gin, which is 100% naturally distilled, is free from any chemicals, sugars, fruit extracts and flavour compounds. That includes any organic kinds, too. The distinct floral notes owe credit to the emphasis on local botanicals, which are all hand grown, picked, dried and infused by Hamish and his team.
A star in its own right, Apothecary Rose shifts from an ethereal pale gold to a punchy pink and is made from one of the oldest rose varieties out there. Its genteel aroma and refined taste serve as a reminder of its 5,000-year-old role in natural herbal remedies and tinctures.
A glorious force to be reckoned with, Chamomile & Cornflower features bold blue hues, thanks to the pure cornflower pigments, which switch to a delicate pale pink after the tonic comes into play. The vibrant purple tones found in the Lavender & Echinacea magically shift to an alluring pink, while the distinctive floral notes resonate with the soul.