Because I am totally spoilt and have the very best friend, last week I was taken to Edinburgh for a gin experience at the Edinburgh Gin distillery. And it was fab.
I love a gin. I love how refreshing it is and if you are ever stuck for what to drink, a G&T always hits the spot. I prefer mine with a slice of lime, of maybe some cucumber if I am feeling crazy. One time I had a G&T in a gin bar with a basil garnish. Madness. But I digress…
From the outside the distillery doesn’t look like much. The website describes it as ‘a hidden wonderland’ and that pretty much sums it up. Once you get down the stairs and through the door, it’s a wonderful mix of cave-like seating areas, a cosy bar and a tempting seating area that makes you feel a little bit sophisticated when you are sat in it.
The experience started with a little talk on the botanicals used to make Edinburgh Gin and went on to talk about the fascinating history of gin. We discovered the origin of ‘Dutch courage’ and ‘Mother’s ruin’ and found out the first gin to be drunk in England was basically turpentine and tasted better when flavoured with the a carcass of a dead cat. No amount of lime or basil is going to mask that…
Next we given a tour round the two old but space-age looking stills. It was pleasing to learn that Edinburgh Gin produce very little wastage during their distilling process. And everything was just so compact and tidy.
The tour was given by staff member, Dougie, and he was a delight! He had such a dry, quirky way about him that just seemed to fit with the tour and the environment and made it all the more enjoyable. And of course he was very knowledgeable about the product.
And he knew how to make a tasty G&T. Now, I’m not saying the next bit was my favourite part of the tour, because the first half was very enjoyable, but when you are given a whole bunch of gin to taste it’s a good afternoon! To start, we got a sample of each of the flavoured liquors that are produced by the distillery: raspberry, elderflower and rhubarb and ginger. The raspberry was delicious: tasted like raspberries! It was just like sipping a sloe gin; not too sweet and could easily be enjoyed just with a couple of ice cubes. I love elderflower so was looking forward to the next one but was quite surprised by how sweet and thick it was. However, that floral loveliness you’d expect from an elderflower drink was there and you could easily imagine it at the bottom of a glass of bubbles or mixed in a cocktail. The rhubarb and ginger was also good but I’m not particularly a fan of either of those flavours so that was that. We each got to pick a bottle to take home. Yum!
We were also allowed to try two seasonal gins. The first was seaside gin, which was made from flavours foraged from the Scottish coastline. Nice idea but for me it just didn’t work. One of the ingredients was seaweed, which gave it saltiness I just couldn’t get away with. The second was a navy strength rum, distilled with szechuan pepper and it was good, strong but good. It was something a little different but still really smooth and would be great ice cold with a quirky garnish.
We ended the tasting with an original Edinburgh gin and Fentimans tonic, garnished with orange peel: light, refreshing and delicious.
Overall the tour and the tastings was a great way to spend the afternoon. I appreciate there are loads of things to do in Edinburgh but if you like gin it’s a great use of time and I would definitely recommend it. After 5pm, the bar opens and you can enjoy drinks and cocktails. We didn’t do that but I think it would be a very cool place to have a couple of drinks, and I can only imagine the knowledgeable staff would mix up some great tipples.
If you want to book a tour or treat yourself to a new bottle of gin, you can view their website here. We did the Gin Connoisseur tour and it really is such good value.
We finished our evening at The Dome, Indigo Yard and Copper Blossom, all of which I would also recommend. Oh yeah, we also looked at the Castle the next day to get our culture fix but mostly we ate all the foods and drank all the drinks. (This was birthday related after all.)
So big thank you to Clarke for the lovely birthday present and to Edinburgh for the gin. Cheers!