STIRLING GIN DISTILLERY PREVIEW

Stirling Gin began three years ago in a suburban kitchen after owners June and Cameron McCann put their 2.5 litre still, Jinty, to work. Using fresh basil and hand-picked Stirlingshire nettles they created a spicy, beautifully herbal gin that has been twice shortlisted for best London Dry by the Scottish Gin Society. 

Autumn this year will see Stirling Gin move into their new home at the foot of Stirling Castle. The Old Smiddy is over 130 years old and began life as a temperance hall - what better reincarnation could there be? Stirling Distillery will be growing their own botanicals in their extensive garden, distilling their spirit on site and offering tours, gin-making classes and seasonal events such as the summer garden party, fine food and gin pairing suppers and a Christmas cocktail evening. Stirling's first distillery will be another major attraction for the city and aims to celebrate the rich history of the area, primarily with their upcoming "Folklore Collection". 

We have been given a sneak preview of the distillery as it stands now, which has heaps of potential and we simply cannot wait to see the distillery in all it's glory... Watch this space!

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Gin of the Month: July

July is finally here! We have Wimbledon, more World Cup and hopefully some sunshine to enjoy this month as well as our Gin of the Month, Gorse Gin, a product of the small coastal town of Lundin Links in Fife. This excites us because we too are originally from Fife. To set the scene Lundin Links is in the East Neuk of Fife just south of St Andrews. It is a beautiful part of the world that has gorgeous beaches, world famous fish and chips and since 2017 has been the producer of Gorse Gin.

Like the name suggests, this gin’s headline botanical is the locally foraged gorse flower.  But this isn’t the whole story: with 18 botanicals, there’s a lot of flavour and a lot to love. Some of botanicals include both Italian and Macedonian juniper, elderflower, chamomile, cinnamon, grapefruit and bitter orange.  We found the gin is naturally sweet and floral on the nose, with as you can imagine, a complex flavour. Keep this in mind when tasting it. It took us a few swigs to really appreciate the complexity of the taste. This is a good tip for trying any gins, some may take a few mouthfuls before you appreciate the flavours.

The recommended serve is mango, which is both unusual and will look incredibly impressive at any dinner party to serve a G and T with Mango rather than the same old ice and a slice. The Mango brings out the fruity flavours and in this heat wave we are having at the moment is totally perfect! We also tried it with pink grapefruit and mint and both also worked. The mint tended to bring out the floral flavours and the fruit brings out the sweetness.

We would say we agree with the recommendation of a mediterranean tonic or if not an original tonic. The light tonic just doesn’t work as nicely, perhaps you just need that little sugary boost that these tonics have.  Gorse Gin can stand up to a tonic and won’t be drowned out, add it to taste. We like it at a roughly 50:50 ratio. The mediterranean really brings out the floral notes and coastal origins of the gin, and the original tonic lets the fruity sweetness flourish, so it’s just whatever you prefer!

This gin reminds us a lot of the coast and it has a lot of similarities to the Isle of Harris gin. So if you are a fan of that then this is definitely the gin for you. There is an after tang, like the sensation you get after eating a lemon sherbert. The tasting guide also says the after taste is reminiscent of dark chocolate and bitter orange, which although we didn’t quite get this flavour, we would agree the gin is as smooth and as moreish as good bar of chocolate.  It’s overall flavour we would describe as being complex and flavourful without being too overpowering.

Gin of the Month: June

 

If we had to use two words to describe Cooper King it’d be Game Changer. We loved it. This is a new Gin on the market, we were lucky enough to have a bottle from Batch #2.  The eco friendly Yorkshire distillery was set up in 2014, by Abbie and Chris who were inspired after a trip to various distilleries in Tasmania. The name comes from that of the founders great-grandfather’s. We think it adds to the overall classy but quirky branding.

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On the nose it is a sweet floral smell, a bumblebee in a wild flower garden comes to mind. The botanicals include lemongrass, lavender, cumin and the distinctive honey, many are locally sourced.  Initially it is recommended to try the gin straight, on the rocks - honestly we think this is the best way to have it. The honey makes it deliciously smooth to drink. There is no overpowering of alcohol or the after burn tang. It is as smooth as a warming honey liqueur. You can taste the cumin coming through adding a little tingle to your taste-buds.

We recommend you add tonic with caution; the tonic works a little like when you add water to whisky to open up the flavours. When you add the tonic the citrus, lemongrass flavours become more subdued and the spicy cumin flavours are opened up. We recommend a maximum ratio of 50/50 tonic to gin. We learned this the hard way and initially drowned out our first taste. The recommended garnish is lime which we agree with to bring back the citrus taste. An alternative serving is with a sprig of rosemary or coriander and slice of cucumber which we are yet to try but we think it would work so well with the floral notes.

The smooth taste comes from the combination of two spirits to suit the botanicals. One is a rich malt spirit and the other is a smooth wheat spirit. These flavours marry together with the locally sourced botanicals (including the honey which comes from the family beehive) to great the delicious gin.

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We also should mention the bottle. We love the unique pattern on the inside of the label shining through the gin. It makes an interesting addition to any gin bar and would be great to add some fairy lights to when the bottle is empty; which at the rate we are going may be sooner than we initially thought.

This definitely needs to be added to your “gin to watch out for” list.  It is a superbly smooth gin that would be perfect to serve after dinner.  The extra bonus is that for every bottle of Cooper King Gin sold, 1 square metre of woodland is planted, this combined with the distillery’s 100% green energy usage, means you are basically saving the planet one bottle at a time!  It gets the stamp of approval from us!

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GIN OF THE MONTH: MAY

We are heading to sunnier climates for May’s Gin. Nordes Gin originates from the Northern Coast of Spain. The bottle is incredibly striking with the opaque white and blue branding, although it didn't initially hit us as being Spanish, it's not until closer inspection revealed the origin which is helpfully highlighted. The name Nordes refers to the North Atlantic wind that blows across the region. The gin is definitely unique and memorable and this may be due to the spirit used. The majority of gins are created using a neutral grain spirit. Nordes is made using an Albariño-grape-based spirit.

On the nose the gin is sweet smelling and very floral. It's a tangy sweet like sherbet but not sickly - like being transported away to a Mediterranean lemon grove with views of the hills on a warm summer’s day.  It tastes very similar to how it smells, a bold sweet floral gin, making it unique for us. It's got a nice balance to it so it doesn't fit into one category - a complex mix. It's definitely a special gin, not one you'd have everyday and one to sip slowly and appreciate.

It's quite hard to describe the whole flavour of the gin because it’s so unlike anything we've tasted before; it's always a nice surprise to get a gin like this!  Traditionalists may not approve of this rather contemporary flavour: if you weren't looking, you wouldn't know there's juniper in there at all. So if you've not been a big fan of gin in the past, this is definitely worth trying.

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We think a Mediterranean tonic with a twist of lemon and/or a little mint works well. The fruity garnish complements the subtle citrus sweetness and mint to wrap up all the floral aspects of the flavour.  If you're laying in the garden lapping up those rays, a long Nordes with a premium lemonade would be lovely. Mix it up again and have a light tonic and some red berries also works a treat.


We think this gin may be divisive amongst Gin fans. The flavour is memorable but for many may be too overpowering, we read one review that compared it to your granny's guest soap. We say don't mock it ‘til you try it. Add it to your Gin wish list and dare to be different!

 

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Top Five Yorkshire Gins

To celebrate our three upcoming events in Yorkshire, we have decided to take a look at some of the very best gin’s Yorkshire has to offer! In no particular order, here are our top Yorkshire gins that you need to try!

 

Masons Yorkshire Gin

Distilled on the edge of the dales, this Yorkshire made gin offers a perfect blend of soft juniper and citrus. The gin is smooth with a peppery finish and its perfect serve is with a premium tonic and orange peel to garnish or even try pink grapefruit and black pepper for something a bit different. We are very excited to have them with us at The Gin Fayre in Wetherby, Leyburn and Malton.

 
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Raisthorpe Dry Gin

Using water from underwater streams of the gypsey springs on the Yorkshire Wolds, Raisthorpe is distilled traditionally by master distillers. Known for its 'mystical' taste, this gin blends juniper with secret botanicals to create the ultimate smooth Yorkshire gin with hints of vanilla and spice. According to folklore, those who drink it are blessed with good fortune. Sounds good to us! 

 
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Cooper King Distillery Gin

The only gin distillery in Yorkshire to tailor to each individual botanical with its combination of traditional hot copper-pot and innovative cold vacuum distillation. This juniper-led gin will be balanced with carefully chosen botanicals, many of which will be sourced at the founders own site in the Yorkshire dales. The Gin is set to launch in spring 2018 (just around the corner!) and you can find the Cooper King Distillery Gin at The Gin Fayre: Malton in August.

 
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Sloemotion Sloe Gin

Founded in 2002 in North Yorkshire, Sloemotion uses traditional kitchen recipes to formulate its rich, aromatic, and cherry taste. Whether served as a cocktail or as a warm nip on a cold night, this fruity and sweet gin is the perfect yorkshire sloe gin! Catch up with Sloemotion at The Gin Fayre in Wetherby, Leyburn and Malton!

 
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Slingsby Dry Gin

Slingsby Dry Gin is created with locally sourced botanicals, a pure single grain spirit, and Harrogate aquifer water. Named and inspired by William Slingsby who in 1571 discovered the unique properties of the natural spring water in Harrogate’s Tewit Well, like the man it is named after, Slingsby Gin offers something especially unique and yorkshire. With Refreshing bursts of citrus and the sweet smooth taste of green tea scented with jasmine blossom, this is a gin you have to try!

 
 

Gin of the Month: April

 
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It’s April and therefore Spring has Sprung! Well, apparently! Let’s hope the Beast from the East is gone and we can now look forward to sunny days and plenty of gin in the sun! April’s gin is The Lakes Gin and is the perfect spring tipple. Situated in the heart of the Lake District, you could say that this gin is the “Spirit of the Lake District”. Currently, the team are working towards ensuring that it is entirely green distillery that is proud to commit to a zero waste production and sourcing local produce for the botanicals. This includes locally grown juniper as well as more unusual ingredients like, Bilberry, Heather and Hawthorn. Google tells us that Bilberry is good for improving eyesight, so in other words you’d be mad not to drink this gin. It’s medicinal!

At first sniff we get the fresh citrus botanicals. The tasting notes for the gin are very promising and on first read could sound a little contradictory: big; clear; fresh; citrus; floral; complex; vibrant and fruity. Based on that, we honestly didn’t know what to expect when drinking, but we were not disappointed. The first adjective that came to our minds was ‘fresh’. It is certainly a smooth drink that can be drunk on its own - that is actually how the distillers recommend it - chill the bottle in the fridge and serve neat on the rocks. We disagreed on the flavours though, Steph thought there was a little spiced hint to the gin where as Michael thought it was more citrusy. That was the real beauty of this gin - no overpowering flavours, rather you are able to pick out the flavours that you are drawn to. 

 
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We tried with a Fever Tree tonic in a 1:1 ratio of gin to tonic. We found this added a creamy flavour and really lended itself to being a smooth drink. The Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic brings out more sweet flavours in the gin, which we personally preferred. The gin is confident and bold enough to hold its own without a garnish, however the distiller's recommend an addition of pink grapefruit helps to bring out the citrus taste.

We also tried it in a long drink with some fresh mint and elderflower tonic (or cordial). This was a deliciously sweet and refreshing drink, perfect to enjoy in the sun, if it ever comes back! The Lakes Gin is so versatile we think it would please any gin drinker. The recent ‘gin-aissance’ that is currently underway means everyone is a gin connoisseur - you know what types of gin, tonic and garnish they prefer and we think The Lakes Gin would please all!

 
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We also got to sample the latest in an ever-growing list of Gin Liqueurs that The Lakes Distillery is releasing: The Rhubarb and Rosehip Gin Liqueur. New this month, at 25% ABV, it’s stronger than other gin liqueurs we have tried, but because the gin is so smooth, it remains soft and flavourful. The gin is sweet tasting as you would expect from this marriage of flavours. It is beautiful straight, works well with tonic, Rose Lemonade, and of course, prosecco. The Lakes Distillery also have Damson, Elderflower and Sloe Berry Liqueur that we think would be equally as lovely!

Overall we think this is a great versatile gin, it’s a great base for any gin based cocktails or a classic G&T or your favourite mixer. It would be a happy addition to any drinks cabinet, we actually bought it for a mother’s day gift and it went down a treat!

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The full rage of Lakes Distillery products are available on their website: www.lakesdistillery.com

 

GIN OF THE MONTH: MARCH

They say first impressions are everything and we knew Twin River would be different when we first saw it. For a start, the gin is cloudy, rather like a victorian lemonade. This is explained by the gin’s main alcohol component, the grain neutral spirit made from malted barley that all gins use, being made on-site. For those of you who haven’t been on multiple gin tours (like us!), you may not realise that more often than not the alcohol that makes up gin is normally bought in from somewhere else and made unique by adding in a careful combination of botanicals and flavourings. Yes, that does means you can make your own gin from strong vodka, but that sounds like too much like hard work! 

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On the nose, you are immediately hit with a burst of fresh lemon scents. Think: old fashioned lemon sherbet sweets. Yummy! Initially, on sampling the gin neat, we thought the first taste was quite strong - almost overpowering - but after a few more sips the sweet tastes come through, quickly followed by an spicier after taste. I think it's certainly a contender as a go-to-drink for those who like their drinks strong. It could also be argued that it's reminiscent of a Limoncello - although much more palatable!

The flavours are certainly complex and quite earthy and by simply adding a few drops of tonic, a whole new world of flavours were opened up! Unlike a lot of gins that can be drowned out by tonic, Twin River Naked Gin holds its own against the tonic and so can be added to personal preference. We tried with Light Tonic, Aromatic Tonic and Herbal Tonic. Each tonic provided a slightly different flavour but complimented the intricate flavours of the gin. The recommended serve is Pink Grapefruit or Lime, but I (Steph) think I much prefer the Pink Grapefruit. Sitting here sipping it, I am dreaming of sunnier days and enjoying the gin in the garden. The gin would make a tasty and refreshing long drink in the summer… all we need is that sun!

Twin River is based in Royal Deeside in Banchory. Banchory is a quaint wee village along the road from Balmoral, the Queen’s summer home. The name Twin River comes from the fact that the River Feugh meets the River Dee here. The distillery was founded in 2017 and already has a whole range of gins available including the Rhubarb Old Tom, Navy Strength, a Spiced Plum Special Edition Gin and the headline grabbing Uncut gin - which is being billed as the World’s Strongest Gin at a whopping 77% ABV. We are undecided on whether we fancy this one! 

We knew that being joint Gin Bloggers that we may not always agree on the Gin of the Month and this seems to be the first one that has completely divided us. I loved the gin, I found it extremely moreish and loved the Bitter Lemon taste. Michael on the other hand did not enjoy it - he felt it was over sweet and the flavour was a little overpowering. If you like bitter lemon and citrus flavour we definitely recommend the Naked Gin, otherwise maybe try one of the many other gins Twin River have to offer... they all sound fantastic! Now, where's my shopping list...?!

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