Darnley's Gin School opens it's doors!

Darnley’s Gin has added a ‘Distil Your Own’ experience to its tour offering, inviting visitors to Darnley’s Gin School to create their own recipe from a selection of botanicals and distil a 70cl bottle of gin to take home.  The Gin School is the second tour space in the Darnley’s Gin Distillery cottage and houses 6 mini copper stills which visitors can use to distil their own bespoke bottle of gin. 

The experience will see visitors enjoy a welcome drink and introduction to gin making before exploring the large range of botanicals available to include in their recipe, some of which are grown in our own cottage garden. The hands-on experience continues as they weigh the botanicals and begin distilling their one of a kind gin on their own mini still.  While this is happening, guests will enjoy a tour of Darnley’s main distillery whilst sipping on a refreshing Darnley’s G&T and led through a tasting of the Darnley’s Gin range.

At the end of the experience, visitors will fill and label their bottle of gin to take home and enjoy. 

 
 


Emma Hooper, Brand Manager, commented, "The opening of Darnley's Gin School and the launch of the Distil Your Own Experience, offers people the unique opportunity to go behind the scenes and become a distiller for the day. The new visitor space demonstrates our drive to offer a range of engaging and informative gin experiences complementing our existing Discover Darnley’s tour.”  

“Distil Your Own” at Darnley’s Gin School lasts approximately 2.5 hours and is held weekly on Friday at 3pm and Saturday at 11am. The experience can accommodate 6 people and private group bookings are available.  Distil Your Own is available to book from Friday 10th August,  is priced at £100 per person and hosted at Darnley’s Gin Distillery at Kingsbarns in Fife, located between St Andrews and Crail.

Find out more here: www.darnleysgin.com/tours

Gin of the Month: August

Are you even British if you don’t talk about the weather?

What a glorious few weeks we have been having, I hope you have all been taking some time in the sunny weather and enjoying the Great British outdoors. That is what inspired August’s Gin of the Month, Sing Gin. The Yorkshire Dales was the muse for Ian Thompson and his family, who live in the beautiful Kettlesing which gave inspiration for the name. Particular inspiration came from Fountain Abbey and it’s gardens which can be seen in the gargoyle that features on the bottle.

 
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As the bottle and branding suggest, Sing Gin is a sophisticated and elegant gin. It is a soft and silky smooth drink that has sweet floral notes. The distinct difference in taste can be attributed to the fact the key botanicals - including juniper, orange peel, mint, and flax, are hand-crushed meaning they unlock the flavours and aromas more. We think that this made a big difference and let other flavours come through from the gin without it being too heavy a juniper taste.

Another attribute to the distinctive flavour is Sing Gin is made from grape spirit rather than grain. This changes the flavour and adds that silky smoothness to the taste.

It is because of this we believe the gin is best savoured like a fine wine. The recommended serve is with Mediterranean tonic and either Mint or Orange Peel. A top tip if you are ever using mint as a garnish, give the mint a few claps in your palm, it really opens up the flavour of the mint and makes you look like you work in a fancy cocktail bar too! We liked both orange peel and mint and so it is ultimately up to personal preference. We would say the gin does not really work with lemon or lime garnish it overpowers the delicate flavours.

If you fancy mixing it up and really making an impression with a gin cocktail, here are our favourites.

 

  • The Sing Mojito - Using a tall glass fill it with ice, add 2 measures of Sing Gin, a handful of mint leaves, a teaspoon of sugar and top up with soda water, give it a good stir.
  • The Sing Fizz - 2 measures of Sing Gin, 1 Measure of Elderflower cordial, top up with Prosecco.

 

We feel we need better names for these cocktails, especially with a name like Sing Gin, there are plenty of puns available. Feel free to send your suggestions in!

Overall this is a perfect everyday gin, it is classy, versatile and will suit any occasion. It is just as nice on its own as it is in cocktails with other gins. It definitely is a Gin to Sing About!

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COCKTAIL SERIES: SHETLAND REEL

Originally developed in the late 19th century, a Tom Collins has been enjoyed for many years. Traditionally this refreshing cocktail was made using Old Tom Gin which has a sweeter taste that balanced out the sharp acidic lemon flavours.

Shetland Reel have created their own twist on this traditional drink; a Tomas Collinson, made using their very own Up Helly Aa edition gin. The sweet sherry notes from the cask aged Up Helly Aa gin give a sherberty note that compliments the citrus notes from grapefruit. 

 

 

What you'll need:

 

Combine gin, juice, and syrup in a highball glass and fill with ice. Top up with soda and give it a peerie stir to combine – garnish with a grapefruit slice.

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