Gin of the Month: March

March’s Gin of the Month is another Scottish gem - Barra Gin. Barra is a small island off the West Coast of Scotland and its unspoilt beauty provided the inspiration for the Gin. 

 
IMG_20190223_142229.jpeg
 

Initially, on the nose the gin has a fresh, light and crisp smell, immediately transporting us to those beautiful Barra beaches. Barra has a population of just over 1000 and you may know it as the island where they filmed the original Whisky Galore film, so it is only fitting that the island produces some more wonderful spirits. 

Michael and Katie Morrison, the couple behind Isle of Barra Distillers, put a little bit of Barra into their gin by using locally foraged carrageen seaweed as one of their 17 botanicals. The carrageen seaweed is collected after the springtime tides when the waters are furthers from the shore.  Whilst the distillation of the gin is currently outsourced there are plans to build a distillery on the island which would be great for the local community. 

The bottle is a beautiful marbled design that makes us think of the beautiful clear waters of Barra. The shape of the bottle reminds us of a vintage style bottle that wouldn’t look out of place washed ashore with a scroll containing a message in it. 

Tasting it neat, we got a very smooth and creamy taste. The saltiness of the seaweed gives a lightly salted, coastal aftertaste that lingers nicely.  It is a very palatable gin that can definitely be served on the rocks. 

In terms of perfect serve, the distillers recommend either Lemon or Pink Grapefruit and Rosemary and a dash of Mediterranean tonic. We whole-heartedly agree with that and really believe you should add the tonic sparingly. The gin has a range of delicate flavours and too much tonic would overpower it. We also experimented with some of Fentiman’s Connoisseurs tonic water and with s garnish of some herby lemon thyme from the garden and thought this was a beautiful serve. The connoisseurs tonic does not have the overpowering quinine flavours that can often drown out the flavours of a gin and the lemon thyme brings out a beautiful and delicate earthy citrus taste. We like it as an alternative to the often overpowering lemon slice.

Overall it was a winner in our house. The gin is delicate and we think it is a fancy gin. It is one that the flavours should be savoured. It is a gin to sit and appreciate the intricate flavours.  We think it is definitely one to put on your Gins I Must Try list. Sit back relax and think of the sunny beach days there are to come!

20190223_141615.jpeg
20190223_141430.jpeg
 

Gin of the Month: February

Happy February, the month of love, and let us say - we fell in love at first smell of The Gael - Scottish Gin. Named after the Scottish fiddle tune, The Gael, written by Dougie Maclean, which was originally commissioned for the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition and subsequently featured in the film "Last of the Mohicans". It was also featured at the Edinburgh Tattoo in 2000. If you are at all musically minded - you can find the sheet music on the inside label of the bottle, shimmering through the gin. We love this touch!  It makes it really stand out on the shelf.  

 
IMG_0136.jpg
 

Back to the smell - it is a sweet, spiced smell. It reminds us of a warming Hot Toddy from a Christmas Market. It is a comforting yet complex smell. This can be attributed to the distinguishing ingredient in the gin - the malted barley. The spirit is distilled five times and paired with traditional botanicals such as juniper and citrus peels with the warming spice from a kick of cardamom. The Scottish heather adds a lovely smooth and floral depth to the flavour of the gin. This essentially means - it is Scotland in a gin bottle.

We cannot help but compare it to a whisky - it has the warming smell of a whisky however it is so much more palatable. It is a perfect sipping gin, and would not be out of place as a post dinner drink over ice by a roaring fire.  It works equally well with tonic for your classic G&T; we tried it initially with a light tonic and pink grapefruit garnish. This gave quite a crisp flavour as the citrus notes were picked up. We then tried it with a suggestion from the crafters: an aromatic tonic and slither of orange peel, which we believe to be the perfect serve. The sweet orange mixed with the bitter of the tonic works astoundingly well and it is such a smooth drink. We are not normally fans of the aromatic tonic, because it can be quite overpowering, tending to drown out the subtle flavours.  In this case, it’s a great match-up and The Gael’s bold flavours can break through this to round it all off nicely.

Overall, The Gael is a winner in our house. It is distinctive, classy and unique. It has the ‘gallus’ personality of a true Scotsman on a windy day. Whisky better watch out, as its crown as the spirit of Scotland may soon be toppled by such a fine gin.

20190128_191534.jpeg
20190128_191558.jpeg

 

Gin of the Month: January

Happy New Year! Hope you are full of the festive spirit and your New Year’s Resolution is to sample more gin! We have been enjoying Lin Gin, the first product of Linlithgow Distillery, recently established by husband and wife team, Ross and Alyson. However, this is more of a community gin, with over 100 local ‘tasters’ enlisted to help sample and refine the correct balance of botanicals for the gin.

 
20181210_184759.jpeg
 

The full list of botanicals is a closely guarded secret, however what we do know is that the botanicals that make up the unique taste of Lin Gin are all foraged locally from the canal, loch and meadows of Linlithgow. One prominent botanical is Meadowsweet which gives the gin a rich, sweet floral aroma. The distillers describe the gin as having ‘unique, spicy and citrus’ flavours. We feel, however, that this is simplifying the complex flavour and it doesn't fit into the categories of a citrus or a spicy gin. This flavour reflects the diverse history and character of Linlithgow.

The gin is pleasantly surprising, each tasting brings out a different flavouring. After initial tastings we said it was quite a savoury gin, the peppery notes were coming out. We therefore paired it with a Fentimans Rose Lemonade and some pink peppercorns. Even if you try with the pink peppercorns and a regular tonic, they helped the subtle sweetness of the gin and complemented the pepperiness.  It is a beautiful short drink; being so unique it certainly holds its own as a drink to enjoy at any time of day.

The recommended serve from the distillers is a small piece of orange, which also does work, but they themselves recommend trying out different garnishes and tonics. We tried a Fever Tree Sicilian Lemon Tonic, this tonic is so flavourful that not many gins can stand up to the tonic. Lin Gin manages to keep its savoury flavour so can contrast the lemony tonic and we loved this combination. This is where we found more of the citrus notes came out. Lin Gin is a superb all rounder gin for whatever you’re in the mood for.

Lin Gin is a beautiful craft gin that encapsulates everything that is brilliant about community spirit. The bottle shows the distinctive skyline of Linlithgow adorning the long necked bottle. The batches are handwritten on the bottle and it is ‘crafted with the spirit of Linlithgow’. Linlithgow Distillery have a lot more planned for the future. You can help with these plans by becoming a member and be invited to tastings and exclusive events. We cannot wait to see what’s next!

20181230_141804.jpeg
20181210_184846.jpeg
20181230_142659.jpeg

Cocktail Series: French 75

Christmas! What better time to crack open a bottle of your finest fizz and impress your mates with a little home mixology?

Honestly, we really don’t think there is a better time, and so we’ve got you covered with this perfectly fresh and equally moreish cocktail that will have your friends begging for more…

Its name originates from a 75mm Howitzer field gun used by the French and the Americans in World War 1 (yes! who knew?!). The gun was known for its accuracy and speed, and the French 75 is said to have such a kick that it felt like being hit by just such a weapon. The recipe was first printed in The Savoy Cocktail Book and quickly gathered fame on both sides of the Atlantic..

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s revive this elegant, sophisticated, celebratory classic just in time for Christmas!

Ingredients

50ml London Dry Gin

15ml lemon juice

10ml sugar syrup

Champagne

METHOD

It’s oh-so quick and easy, we promise!

  1. Add gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice.

  2. Shake for at least 15 seconds, until the liquid has turned cold.

  3. Strain into a flute.

  4. Top with Champagne.

  5. Garnish with a spiral of lemon peel.

  6. Enjoy!, (and repeat!)

 
shutterstock_690249295.jpg
 

Gin of the Month: December

 
20181115_175650.jpeg
 

Oh, hello December!

It’s dark outside, and you cannot go near a shop without hearing Christmas songs blaring out and you are still in denial that it is that time of year AGAIN! Well we have the solution for you: a cosy night in with Rock Rose Autumn Edition and crack open the cheeseboard you bought in preparation for Christmas Day!

Rock Rose Gin is a firm favourite in our house.  During the summer, we went on a Gin Distillery tour/ holiday to the north of Scotland. We had the opportunity to tour the Dunnet Bay Distillers and find out all about their production. We had a great time and there was lots to learn. If you’re up that way - actually, even if you’re not - we certainly recommend a visit!

Dunnet Bay is the most northerly point of mainland UK, a few miles along the road from John O’Groats. The thing with being so remote is that the distillers have to rely on botanicals that are local to them and so this is why they are making seasonal gins, Summer, Spring, Winter and now their latest addition Autumn. These are available alongside the original Rock Rose and Holy Grass Vodka. All of which are wonderful and worth a try and have as unique and distinct differences, like the seasons they are named after. Dunnet Bay Distillers is a family business, headed up by husband and wife team Martin and Claire, although all of the family pitch in.. which is something we love!

The Rock Rose Autumn Edition features botanicals such as blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, which are all sourced locally as well as the distillers own grown Nastirum and Vietnamese coriander which is grown in their Geodome. They describe it as having limited the citrus notes that are found in the original Rock Rose to allow for the sweet berry flavours and the spice from the coriander to come through. It is hard to put a label on the taste to be honest, there is a spicy sweetness to the gin, albeit not too spicy. It is a crisp and fresh gin but with a complex flavouring.  The bulk of the flavour comes from the original gin but with less citrus the other flavours also come out.

In terms of serve we have been enjoying it with some berries. Obviously we are out of season at the moment so frozen berries work just as well as fresh. A few raspberries or blueberries work if you like the fruity sweetness. We love it with a Mediterranean tonic as that brings the flavours out and adds a little more sweetness. The distiller also recommends adding basil to the gin too which complement the the sweet berries to give the taste a deeper flavour.  This is probably why the herby Mediterranean tonic works well with the gin too - helping give the sweet berries something to contrast with. We also loved the gin mixed with Bon Accord Rhubarb Soda and is a delicious alternative to tonic!

The Rock Rose bottle is also a beautiful bottle and is definitely one that can be upcycled after you finish the gin. There are so many different uses for empty gin bottles, including soap dispensers (which are so simple to do!) and gin lamps (which are a bit more complex to make). Each bottle has a distinct colour scheme to represent the seasons. We also love the fact that each bottle is hand waxed in the distillery. In fact when we visited in July, Michael got to try his hand at waxing a bottle.

The gin is very warming which is just what you need at this time of year. It can be sipped neat, as you would a whisky. However we do highly recommend a Hot Toddy, warm up some apple juice, put a generous measure of Rock Rose in it and a cinnamon stick. It is essentially Christmas in a mug!

20181115_175730.jpeg
20180706_143829.jpeg
20181115_175705.jpeg

PRE-RELEASE BOOK PREVIEW

Make Something Bloody Marvellous:
the Gentle Art of Mixing Gin

This week we have been enjoying some experimentation in our Gin Bar. We have been lucky enough to have a preview for the new cook book for Gin: Make Something Bloody Marvellous - the Gentle Art of Mixing Gin. The book is about combining gin with the splendid flavours of the British Countryside and has been written by the people behind Jam Jar Gin, Faye and Dan Thwaites. Jam Jar Gin is exactly what it says on the jar - Gin served in a Jam Jar. Although we are yet to try it it sounds delicious.

When creating the book Faye and Dan worked with the cocktail expertise of bartender extraordinaire Keivan Nemati (The Zetter Townhouse & The Drink Factory) and chefs Megan Roberts and Steward Mackie from Harvey Nichols and the book shares ideas that come from the drinkable and edible results of their experiments together. It is filled with a whole host of different cocktails as well as recipes for making different flavoured gins, syrups and garnishes. It also features some delicious sounding recipes including a Gin Lemon Drizzle Cake which we are itching to try. The recipes recommend you use Jam Jar Gin but other gins can be used too. We really love the beginning of the book with advice and tips for the technical art of Gin mixology.  It’s a helpful and easy guide on how to make some great components for your cocktail repertoire, recommending what to have and how to use it.

We tried out some of the recipes (substituting ingredients where needed). The cocktails all have very simple names which is what we like.  Secondly we love how it is encouraging you to use fresh ingredients. Firstly we tried the Rhubarb, which consisted of some Rhubarb Gin, Lemon Juice, Rhubarb Syrup and Soda Water. We didn’t have Rhubarb Syrup, so substituted it for Rhubarb cordial and added a little more than the recipe suggested. It was a punchy refreshing drink and a nice and easy sunny-day cocktail. We also loved how it only required a simple stir and no cocktail shaking.

Feeling confident and a little merry, we tried Daisy. Something I learned from the book is Daisy is the name given to cocktails that feature a spirit and orange liqueur. Fun Fact: Margarita is spanish for Daisy. The Daisy cocktail is very simple: Gin, Orange Liqueur, Lemon Juice and Sugar Syrup. It is quite a ‘potent’ cocktail so is best drunk slowly. I found I needed to add a little more sugar syrup than the recipe required but that is of course personal taste. It is of course very citrusy, which is always good.

Thirdly we tried one of the most simple recipes in the book - Pink Gin. We’ve said it before: 2018 is the year of Pink Gin. This is a classic recipe however; Gin and Bitters - we recommend if not using Jam Jar Gin here, use a gin that is drinkable neat. The bitters does change the flavours and makes it more complex. It’s worth trying next time you’re having a gin to see how it changes up your favourite gin.

Overall we were really impressed with the book, there is a wide variety and we cannot wait for summer to come back around when we can use more ingredients from our garden to experiment more!n The book is released on 5th December and can be preordered on Amazon http://amzn.eu/d/1YCf4dU

IMG_20181107_192835.jpeg
00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20181107192731802_COVER.jpeg

Gin of the Month: November

fullsizeoutput_2482.jpeg

This month’s gin comes from Arbroath, the home of ‘Arbroath Smokie’ and therefore an important place in terms of Scottish Food and Drink. Smithies Gin is the latest produce from Smithies Deli, a local delicatessen and coffee shop. They stock over 200 gins from around the world and so you could say that know a thing - or two - about gin! This gin is the brainchild of Patti and her two daughters, Beth and Jill who were inspired by Patti’s late father Donald and his garden. The gin making trio set out with the aim to make a gin that “didn’t dictate didn’t dictate pairings or accompaniments, but that was refreshing to drink with a simple tonic while also able to handle a more robust flavouring if desired.”

We wholeheartedly agree with this statement - Smithies Gin is extremely versatile. It has a citrus aroma from the orange, lemon and lime peel in the botanicals. It is a lovely smell on these bitterly cold autumnal nights, promising a bittersweet and warming savoury goodness! Other botanicals include Bay leaves, lemongrass, gooseberries, redcurrants and our favourite sounding Grains of Paradise, which is a spicy peppercorn and that is where the bittersweet fruity yet punchy herbal taste comes from.

It is a smooth drink and we have very much enjoyed testing it ‘on the rocks’. The gin has a distinctive savoury taste, but not an overpowering flavour. When thinking about garnishes we love what Beth, one of the distillers said - “We have tried just about every flavour and garnish we could think of from orange peel and lavender to tomato and basil, which is surprisingly one of our favourite combinations. We’re excited to see how people enjoy our gin and the pairings that they love the most.” Coming from a Deli, we know the distillers know a thing or two about flavours - the gin definitely is packed full of them.

We have enjoyed trying it out with different flavours this month including frozen raspberries, pink grapefruit, basil and pink peppercorns as well as different tonics and mixers.  After lots of taste tests, we eventually decided on our recommended serves.

Steph’s perfect serve is with Fentiman’s Herbal Tonic Water and Pink Grapefruit. The herbal tonic water brings out a little more sweet tastes in the gin, and complements the savoury flavours of the gin.

Michael recommends Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade with Pink Peppercorns. The gin stands up to the Rose Lemonade flavour, again injecting a subtle sweetness and helps balance out the flavours. The pink peppercorns help those Grains of Paradise, giving the drink a little kick.

We definitely recommend you try it in a cocktail too; our recommendations would be a Martini or a Bloody Mary, but it would so work with anything that takes your fancy. Overall we think this is a superb all-round gin. It’s great one to have in your cabinet that would work in all seasons, with all different types of gin drinkers and all sorts of mixers.   

fullsizeoutput_247f.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_247d.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_2480.jpeg

Gin of the Month: October

Right, we’re not going to lie about this: Stirling holds a special place in our hearts. Steph studied at Stirling University and therefore classes it as her second home. Stirling is home to the iconic castle and since 2015, Stirling Gin. It is the iconic castle that inspired this month’s Gin of the Month - The Green Lady Liqueur which is named after the legendary ghost of the green lady who has been seen wandering the grounds of Stirling Castle and watching over the city. It is said that The Green Lady was a Lady in Waiting to Mary Queen of Scots and perished in a fire saving her beloved queen. The perfect gin for Halloween!

The liqueur is made with Stirling Gin, fresh Scottish brambles and locally sourced mint. It is all natural colours and flavourings. For us we are instantly reminded of a rumberry mojito when drinking. The brambles bring a sweet, fresh and smooth taste, which works with the crisp mint flavours. The flavours just work together so wonderfully and it is such a delight to drink. The natural sweetness means it’s not a sickly sweet like some gin liqueurs can be.  

We have a few serving suggestions and think it will work well in all seasons. The liqueur would be perfect enjoyed neat on cosy autumn nights. Equally we love it when it’s added to some prosecco for special occasions - or as we like to call them... weekends! We also really love it made up into a mojito with a tall glass of crushed ice, 2 measures of the liqueur and topped with soda water, a squeeze of lime and a mint sprig garnish. This is a very easy cocktail to make and certainly one that would be the envy of any of your cocktail-bar-loving friends!

We love the story and branding of this Folklore Collection, which includes The Green Lady and Red Cap - a raspberry liqueur named after a mythical gnome like creature. The artwork was designed by Leith based artist Ritchie Collins and is so beautiful and distinctive, perfectly capturing the mystical charm of the stories the liquers represent. The creation of the liqueur was a lengthy progress, in which the distillers took time to perfect the correct ingredients and to get the balance of flavours just right - we think it’s been worth the wait!

You will be able to hear more about the story of Stirling Gin when they host a masterclass at the Gin Fayre’s upcoming St Andrews event. We also are eagerly waiting to hear about the progress of the renovation of the ‘Old Smiddy’ in Stirling City Centre into a new distillery and visitor centre. We highly recommend this liqueur as one for the cabinet and with December fast approaching it is a great gift for that friend or relative that you have no idea what to buy for. After playing around with recipes and serves, we are going to take a bottle to an upcoming gin party with friends where we each need to bring a bottle of gin to share and sample and we know it’ll go down a storm!

20180929_190447.jpeg
 
20180929_190312.jpeg
20180929_190404.jpeg
20180929_190518.jpeg
 

The Gin Fayre wins Scottish Gin Award

Scottish Gin Event of the Year.JPG

We’re delighted to announce that The Gin Fayre has been awarded Gin Event of the Year at the second annual Scottish Gin Awards.

The team attended a glittering awards ceremony in Glasgow on 20th September 2018, where they joined other finalists to celebrate innovation and excellence in gin distilling across Scotland.

Established in 2016, the Scottish Gin Awards is a competition judged by a panel of experts drawn from across the sector.

Hosted by two of the country’s most high-profile TV broadcasters, Kaye Adams and Des Clarke, the awards welcomed more than 600 attendees on the night.

The Gin Fayre has hosted five sell-out events across Scotland and is home to a variety of gin brands from across the world including Persie Gin, Stirling Gin, Boe Gin, Darnley’s Gin, Ink Gin from Australia and Cooper King Gin from York. 

Founder of The Gin Fayre, Jasmine Wheelhouse, comments:

“I am absolutely thrilled to have been recognised for our hard work over the last 18 months. Taking the opportunity to celebrate our achievements with others in the industry has been absolutely fantastic.

“Winning Gin Event of The Year has been a real highlight of this year for me. We’ve worked tirelessly to create an event to be proud of and we hope we can continue to deliver outstanding events across the country that gin lovers can enjoy as much as we do.”

Chair of the judging panel, Alex Bruce, Managing Director of Adelphi Distillery added:

“Congratulations to all the Scottish distilleries and supporting companies who have won at the Scottish Gin Awards. The Scottish gin sector can be very proud.  These medals will help retain our precious reputation as a global centre in the production of high-quality spirits.

“With a phenomenal 80 Scottish gins in the finals and 18 taste medal winners presented, the results will provide winning distilleries with a real boost in advance of the busy Christmas season. For the discerning gin drinker, these awards provide welcome guidance when choosing from the large range of Scottish gin now on the market.”