Boozy Baking with Craft56° - BanANA Cupcakes

Ally Hardy

Like many people over the past year we've baked and eaten a lot of banana bread! We love it but thought we'd try something a bit different for our latest bake. 

The result was a combination of three of our favourite things: banana bread, cupcakes and Scottish drinks. We made BanANA Cupcakes which are infused with ANA Birch & Caramel Liqueur and topped with a cream cheese frosting.

BanANA Cupcakes

The Buck & Birch ANA Liqueur

We love the ANA Liqueur as it's so smooth and sweet with notes of buttery caramel. This makes it ideal for baking with and the flavours complement the banana perfectly. The liqueur was added to the batter mix and we also substituted the vanilla in the frosting recipe for ANA.

The full list of ingredients and method can be found below.

ANA Birch & Caramel Liqueur

This recipe should yield between 16-18 cupcakes depending on how big you make them (and how much mixture you eat along the way!). 


For the cupcake mixture:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 115g butter
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 2 tsp ANA Liqueur
  • 70ml milk

Cream cheese frosting:

  • 226g full fat cream cheese
  • 2 tsp ANA Liqueur
  • 500g icing sugar


  1. Preheat your oven to 190°C and line your cupcake tray with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set this aside for later.
  3. In another bowl cream together the sugar and butter. Once this is smooth add in the eggs until light and fluffy.
  4. Mash the bananas and stir them into the wet mixture. The riper the bananas the sweeter they are. You can quickly ripen them in the microwave if necessary.
  5. Add in the ANA Liqueur and milk to the mixture and combine well. Slowly sift in the dry flour mixture. Make sure it is well mixed before adding more.
  6. Once the mixture is combined, spoon it into the cupcake cases. We used a just over a tablespoon for each cupcake.
  7. Bake in the oven for around 18-20 minutes or until a knife comes out the middle of the cake completely clean. Take out the oven and leave to cool for around 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  8. While the cakes are cooling prepare the frosting. To do this, add all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. If possible, use a mixer to do this as it makes the smoothest frosting. Place the frosting in the fridge to cool for around 10 minutes before piping on to the cakes.
  9. Top with dried banana slices if desired.
  10. Store the cakes in the fridge.
BanANA Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting 

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Isle of Bute Island Gin - February 2021

Ally Hardy

Our featured gin this month comes of the Isle of Bute Gin Co. and is one of their latest expressions - Island Gin.

We are big fans of all the gins released by the team at Isle of Bute Gin Co. and the west coast island has a special place in our hearts, especially at this time of year.

For the last 3 years, we have spent the second weekend in February running the Bute Gin Festival and we are devastated that we can't be there this year. 

Therefore, we wanted to celebrate the island and the fabulous gins produced there this month. We hope you enjoy your little piece of Bute and you may join us there next year! 

Isle of Bute Landscape

The Isle of Bute Gin Co. Story

Launching in 2018, the Isle of Bute Gin Co. used the landscape around the island as the inspiration behind their gins. Head Distiller, Simon Tardivel, worked all over the world as a multi-award winning brewer and alcohol expert before falling in love with Bute while living there.

The first two expression launched were Gorse and Oyster. The Gorse Gin celebrated the land with the Oyster Gin being a nod to the water surrounding Bute.

Sadly the company could not find a suitable premises for a permanent distillery in Rothesay so had to make the decision to temporarily relocate to a shared space in Glasgow, travelling to the island to forage for the botanicals. The dream was always to find a permanent space for a distillery, visitor centre and tasting room and project Back to Bute was on.

While still in Glasgow, a third gin was launched. Heather Gin is a refreshing gin that is perfect for lovers of fruity & floral gins. The hand foraged heather is combined with pink grapefruit for a perfectly balanced gin.

In late 2019, a premise was found right in the heart of Rothesay with the space being secured in February 2020 and production moving back to the island soon after.

Although delighted to be back on Bute, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the opening of the tasting area and visitor centre. However, after some rearranging, the Gin Garden was able to open in summer 2020 offering G&Ts, tasting flights and some locally sourced snacks.

The Isle of Bute Gin family grew again in July 2020 with the additional of two new expressions: Oaked and the Island Gin.

Isle of Bute Gin Range

Island Gin Key Facts

Launched: July 2020
ABV: 43%
Location: Rothesay, Isle of Bute

Island Gin

Life on the quaint Scottish island was the inspiration behind the Island Gin.

It features a range of traditional and more contemporary botanicals including juniper, coriander, angelica, pineapple, basil, mint, rosemary, lime, lemongrass and lemon.

On the nose, you will get fruity and herbaceous notes. To taste, the fruity and herbaceous flavours shine through with mint, pineapple and rosemary being particularly prominent. The finish is long, fresh and aromatic.

The bottle features artwork by Scottish landscape artist Emma S. Davis. The piece is called Morning Reflections captures the bay at Port Bannatyne, a village just to the north of Rothesay.

Bute Island Gin & Tonic Serve

Serving Suggestions

When serving a G&T, we find that the Island Gin is best served in a bulbous tumbler glass with plenty of ice. A naturally light tonic works best and we recommend garnishing with a wedge of lime and fresh basil, rosemary or mint.

Our favourite cocktail with the Island Gin is a Pineapple & Ginger Garden Mojito. The ingredients are easy to get hold of, it's easy to make and it tastes delicious!

You'll need the following:

1 x highball glass
Crushed ice
50ml Island Gin
25ml lime juice
12.5ml sugar syrup
6 x mint leaves
2 x pineapple cubes
Grated ginger
Soda water


Add the pineapple and ginger to the glass and muddle. Fill the glass halfway with crushed ice, add the mint and top with more crushed ice.

Pour in the gin, sugar syrup and lime juice, stir well and top up with soda.

Garnish with pineapple, ginger and mint.


Bute Island Mojito Cocktail

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Boozy Baking with Craft56° – Biggar Gin & Lemon Scones

Ally Hardy

Like most, during the lockdown; we’re finding ways to get creative with our baking. We levelled up some plain scones with the addition of gin and lemon – making an afternoon tea staple even more exciting!

Family recipes can be easily altered to include your favourite ingredients – for some this might be the addition of dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts or chocolate but in true Craft56 fashion, we added gin. Biggar Gin uses citrus peel as a botanical so this was the gin of choice!

Biggar Gin & Lemon Scones

250g self-raising flour
50g cold unsalted butter and some more for greasing the tray
30g caster sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ lemon
150 ml Biggar gin
50g icing sugar

Biggar Gin & Lemon Iced Scones

1. Preheat your oven to 220ºC or gas mark 7.

2. Lightly coat your baking tray in butter for easy serving when baked!

3. Sieve the flour into your mixing bowl and slowly add the butter until it’s combined to a texture like breadcrumbs – it’s easiest to use your fingers for this.

4. Add the baking powder, sugar and salt and mix until fully combined.

5. Juice your half lemon and leave this to the side and then grate the peel and add the zest to the mixture, again mixing until evenly distributed.

6. Create a well in the centre of the bowl and slowly add the gin. Use your hands to work the liquid into the mixture until fully combined – providing a soft dough.

7. Flip your dough out onto a flat surface and pat down until it has the thickness of approximately an inch and a half – don’t bother with a rolling pin for this – don’t want squished scones.

8. Cut out your desired shape. If you have a round cutter, perfect! If not make these scones into any shape you want! Funny shaped scones are as much of a crowd pleaser as perfectly round ones.

9. Please them on your greased baking tray and pop in the oven for 12-15 minutes until they turn golden.

10. Allow to cool completely before icing.

11. Create your icing! Add your icing sugar into a mixing bowl with half a teaspoon of water and mix. Slowly add your lemon juice from earlier until you have the consistency you want. Don’t worry if it gets too runny, just add more icing sugar! The icing should stick to your spoon a bit when you lift it out and not run straight off.

12. Ice your cakes! Some people like a dollop, we’re fans of a drizzle, maybe put it on the side and dip your scones into it. It’s your scones!

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Buck & Birch - Explorers, experimenters and wild flavour innovators

Ally Hardy

Buck & Birch - Wild Food & Drink Innovators

Based in East Lothian, Buck & Birch was launched by creative duo Rupert Waites and Tom Chisholm who share a common love for the outdoors and considerable experience in the hospitality industry. 

The duo have spent their lives immersed in the landscape, scouring land and sea for the very best ingredients and Buck & Birch is their opportunity to step out of the hedgerow and into the kitchen, sharing their findings, drinks, food and knowledge with the world.

The Buck & Birch journey began in 2008 when the first dining event was hosted by Rupert & Tom. Could they create a menu using only ingredients foraged from the landscape and would the diners care and connect? 

Over the next decade the pair have hosted thousands of guests, moved from garden shed to production facility, won awards, worked with industry leaders, world renowned chefs and bartenders. They’ve appeared in feature films, on television and radio, educated, collaborated and innovated.

Tom and Rupert, founders of Buck & Birch

Distilling the Spirits of the Wild

Following the same ethos as their dining events, Buck & Birch has also launched a range of award-winning handcrafted Scottish liqueurs which are beloved of purists, cocktail makers and gourmands alike.

Tom says,  "Ingredients should be left as nature intended. We don’t manipulate with fancy machines or complex processes and never enhance with chemicals or additives. We champion the fruit, the roots, the shoots, leaves, buds and petals, connected to them by lifetimes spent immersed in the outdoors. Spirit is the support act not the main event, specifically selected to season and compliment not overwhelm. The resulting drinks are our vision of what a contemporary range of Scottish aperitifs and digestifs should be"

Aelder, an elderberry and whisky liqueur, the first in the range made it's debut in 2012 at one of Rupert's supper clubs in Edinburgh and very quickly guests were asking if they could take bottles home with them. It has subsequently been joined by two other liqueurs; ANA and Amarosa.

The Buck & Birch Range

The Range

Aelder Elixir - Wild Elderbery Liqueur

Bottled at 17% ABV, the Aelder Elixir is a multi award winning liqueur that combines wild elderberries, spices and locally foraged Scottish botanicals with whisky. 

Aelder is perfect for lovers of port, sherry and whisky liqueurs and makes an ideal accompaniement to a cheese board or a dark chocolate dessert.

It's rich, dark and fruity and best enjoyed in front of a roaring fire!

Aelder Whisky Liqueur Serve

ANA - Birch Syrup Caramel Liqueur

ANA is a vodka based liqueur which is smooth, sweet and indulgent. 

Light and clean on the palate, notes of rich butter caramel, toasted nuts & the mellow glow of spirit combine for a liqueur which is the perfect dinner party finale. 

Definitely one for those with a sweet tooth!

Amarosa - Aromatic Rosehip Rum Liqueur

Ideal for lovers of dark rum, Amarosa combines juicy green apples, honey and herbs with spiced vanilla and molasses to finish.

Pairs perfectly with a charcuterie or mezze platter. 

Enjoy sipped in the summer sun.

Below are some of the awards that the team at Buck & Birch have won:

  • Best Artisan Spirit - Scottish Rural Awards 2018
  • Best Scottish Spirit - Scotsman Food & Drink Award 2018
  • Great Taste Award 2018
  • Most Innovative New Product 2020 - Midlothian & East Lothian Chamber of Commerce
  • Best Artisan Spirit - Runner Up - Scottish Rural Awards 2020

    To find out more or to view the Buck & Birch range, click the link below.

    Buck & Birch Scottish Liqueurs

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    Snawstorm Gin - January 2021

    Ally Hardy

    Welcome to your first Scottish Gin Club box if 2021!

    We wanted to start the year with a juniper-led gin and felt given the time of year it was fitting we featured one which has been inspired by hillwalking through the Cairngorm National Park - often in blizzards and storms!

    Snawstorm Gin

    Snawstorm Gin Key Facts

    Launched: August 2020
    ABV: 42%
    Location: Elgin, Speyside (distilled in Aberdeenshire)

    The Snawstorm Spirits Story

    Snawstorm Scottish Spirits was set up in 2019 by husband and wife team Leon and Susan Chessor. The aim was to create spirits with unique and interesting characteristics which celebrate the Scottish landscape.

    Leon is a keen hillwalker and spends many hours climbing in Cairngorm National Park, often in blizzards and storms, and it was here that he had the idea to use the purest water which is collected from natural springs in the Cairngorms in their spirits. 

    Leon and Susan worked to create the brand and had a vision in mind for a brand that is as clean and crisp as the spirit itself. With a little Scottish twist on the wording, they arrived at Snawstorm.

    The first product released was Snawstorm Scottish Vodka with the Snawstorm Highland Dry Gin following in August 2020.

    Coming from the heart of the Speyside whisky region, both the spirits are made using a new-make spirit sourced from a local whisky distillery which provides a distinctive base to work from. The spirits are currently distilled at Lost Loch Distillery in Aberdeenshire, just a few miles outside Cairngorms National Park. 


    Snawstorm Gin

    Leon and Susan knew from the outset that they wanted to create a London Dry gin with an abundance of juniper and citrus making a clean, balanced and refreshing spirit. The gin you have received is a combination of the 10th and 11th test recipe.

    The highland dry gin distilled in small batches using a blend of grain, malted barley spirit and Cairngorm spring water.

    Snawstorm Gin Botanicals

    There are a total of 11 botanicals used including juniper, coriander seeds, angelica root, lemon peel, cubeb, Scots pine needle, fresh lime peel, almonds, liqourice root, cassia bark and orange.

    The water used in making Snawstorm Gin is one of the purest waters in the world. It flows from natural springs in the Scottish Mountains and spends around 50 years being gently filtered through the layers of underground rocks and crevices, collecting its unique properties.

    To taste, the gin starts with piney juniper at the forefront leading to a fresh citrus zing combined with subtle sweetness. Exceptionally smooth on the palate the botanicals open up one by one to finish with a mellow earthy dryness.


    Just a couple of months after its launch, Snawstorm Gin was a finalist in the at the London Dry Gin of the Year category at the Scottish Gin Awards 2020.

    Snawstorm Gin Bottle

    Serving Suggestions

    We think the Highland Gin is best served over ice as a really classic G&T with a traditional tonic and a slice of lemon.

    If you're not a fan of a classic tonic then we have included the Twisted Kaffir Lime & Lemongrass Tonic. This is a premium mixer which is a lot less bitter than tonic - almost like a cross between tonic and lemonade. When Leon tasted it with the gin he described the combination as 'simply delicious as a flavoured alternative'.

    Snawstorm Gin also makes the perfect base for a number of cocktails. The flavour profile pairs really well with the other ingredients in a Negroni (bitters and Vermouth) for an incredible classic Negroni.

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    SOS Gin - December 2020

    Ally Hardy

    Welcome to your final Scottish Gin Club box of 2020.

    It's been a very strange year but we are finishing it with one of our favourite gins and we hope you love it as much as we do!

    SOS Gin Key Facts

    Launched: January 2019
    ABV: 45%
    Location: Loanhead, Midlothian (distilled in Perthshire)

    SOS Gin in the snow

    The SOS Gin Story

    SOS Gin - Scotland's Other Spirit is the brainchild of Craig and Mark Munnoch-Wahlberg and was inspired by the lowlands of Scotland.

    Craig and Mark wanted to create a uniquely flavoured craft gin using local botanicals to celebrate the area surrounding their Midlothian home. 

    The playful name comes from Scotland's love of whisky and the fact that over 70% of the UK's gin is made in Scotland.

    After 20 months of planning, preparation and experimentation with recipes, the first batch was launched on 11th January 2019.

    The gin is distiled at Strathearn Distillery in Perth with Craig and Mark involved at every stage of the distillation and bottling process.


    SOS Gin

    Unlike many gins which use a vast array of botanicals (The Botanist has 31 different botanicals!), SOS Gin is made using only 4. Juniper, rosehip, rhubarb and chamomile are the only botanicals used to create SOS.

    Having a shorter botanical list does not impact the quality of the gin in the slightest, it simply means it is stripped back to perfection.

    SOS Gin Rhubarb

    Craig and Mark source 3 of the 4 botanicals locally and sustainably. The 100% lowland juniper is delicately hand-foraged to protect next years crop. The rosehip is also hand-foraged and once de-seeded for distilling, the seeds are planted again to replenish. Rhubarb is picked from the gardens of friends and family.

    The locally picked Scottish botanicals are then combined with chamomile and distilled in small batches in a copper pot still.

    The result is an extremely smooth gin with juniper at the fore giving way to the unique blend of floral notes from the rosehip, fresh rhubarb and chamomile with undertones of liquorice and vanilla.

    SOS Gin & Tonic Serve

    Serving Suggestions

    SOS Gin is one of the most versatile gins we have tasted and Craig and Mark are keen for you to drink it however you wish so long as you enjoy it! 

    If you meet them at a festival, it's not unusual for them to have a variety of mixers available to sample including tonics, lemonade, ginger ale, cola and even Irn Bru!

    We have paired it for you with the Apple & Cinnamon Tonic from Walter Gregor's as we felt it captured some amazing festive flavours. As Craig said 'it's like having Apple Strudel in a glass'. We'd recommend finishing with a stick of cinnamon or a slice of red apple too.

    If looking for a more classic G&T, we recommend with a traditional tonic and some fresh berries. Rhubarb also works well as a garnish but this may not be available depending on the season.

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    Sutors Scottish Highland Gin - November 2020

    Ally Hardy

    This month's featured gin in our Scottish Gin Club comes from a micro distillery on a small peninsular in the Moray Firth in the north of Scotland.  

    Sutors Gin is an award-winning, characterful grain-to-glass gin which is a celebration of the Scottish Highlands in a bottle. 

    When the team at Sutors started on their gin journey they were very clear that they wanted to make the gin from scratch. This gives them full control over the processes and the spirit is tested and monitored at every stage to guarantee its quality.

    Sutors Gin Bottle

    The area surrounding the distillery is full of wheat and barley and as a nod to the farming heritage, the gin is made using the barley to give it its unique highland character. 

    All the botanicals used are also sustainably sourced from the abundance of berries, flowers and flavours that can be found in the area around the distillery. There are around 20000 Scottish juniper berries in each batch along with sea buckthorn from Nigg Beach. The other botanicals are foraged from the surrounding hills and hedgerows.  

    Sutors Gin Key Facts

    Launched: October 2019
    ABV: 45.4%
    Location: Tain

    Sutors Gin Awards

    The Sutors Gin Story

    Sutors was born when Stuart Wells decided to make his gin-loving partner Clair a present for her birthday. Stuart recruited his friend Ed who is an agronomist and has always had an interest in homebrewing to help him. He is also married to the daughter of a malting barley producing farmer so it is the perfect way to get easy access to the raw materials!

    The pair enjoyed the experimental nature of gin making and the process appealed to Stuart's curious side. Fortunately, Clair also loved the gin!

    Stuart and Ed weren't able to stop there and the simple birthday present turned into a four year journey, adding James to the team in the process.

    As the brand developed, they set very clear values which placed localism and provenance are at the forefront of everything they do.

    The four key values of Sutors Gin are:

    • Highland Grown - they only use Highland grains, juniper and botanicals. All botanicals are hand foraged sustainably
    • Deliciously Smooth - the spirit is distilled 4 times to ensure it is deliciously smooth. Ingredients this good need treated with care
    • Hand Bottled - the gin is bottled by hand and dispatched in plastic free packaging. They are actively working to reduce their environmental impact
    • A True Distillery - all processes are carried out on site. They mash, distil and rectify using only Highland ingredients.


    Sutors Gin

    Sutors is a contemporary Scottish gin with a unique juniper forward character. 

    It's creamy smooth and has notes of citrus (mainly from the sea buckthorn), rosemary, a little aniseed and an almost cucumber freshness to support the juniper.

    The finish has hints of spice and a long, warming juniper flavour.

    Despite only being launched late last year, Sutors has already picked up a Silver Medal at the London Spirits Competition and has been given an Excellent rating from Difford's guide. It was also a finalist in two categories at the 2020 Scottish Gin Awards; Best Distilled Gin and Best Newcomer.

    The team know that Sutors is not for everyone but is a balanced drink combining the agricultural plains and the unbridled wild spirit of the Highlands.

    Sutors Gin Serve

    Serving Suggestions

    We have found that Sutors is exceptionally versatile and is a great gin for sipping over ice.

    Our favourite serve for a rich and balanced G&T is 50ml of the gin mixed with 150ml of tonic (Cushiedoos is perfect) and garnished with a ribbon of pink grapefruit zest. However, any citrus fruit works well.

    It also makes a great base for a number of cocktails. One of the favourites from Sutors is the Auld Alliance.

    Mix ice, 25ml Sutors Gin, 20ml elderflower cordial and 20ml lemon juice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into a flute or cocktail glass and top with prosecco or champagne.

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    Island Hopping with Scottish Gin - North Uist

    Ally Hardy

    After leaving Colonsay we've travelled north west to the Outer Hebrides and find ourself in North Uist, home of North Uist Distillery Co. - the creators of Downpour Gin.

    Spanning and area of 117 square miles, North Uist is the tenth largest Scottish Island and is connected by causeways to Benbecula, Berneray and Baleshare. The landscape is generally very flat with the exception of the south east and is covered by peat bogs, cultivated crofts, sandy beaches and fresh and salt water lochans.

    The island is a haven for nature lovers with the mix of fresh and salt water lochs giving rise to some complex and unusual habitats. Fishing and bird watching are extremely popular past times in North Uist. 

    Lochmaddy is the largest settlement on the island with a population of around 300 people and is the where the ferries connecting North Uist with Uig on the Isle of Skye set sail from.

    North Uist Landscape

    Distilling on North Uist

    Currently the only operating distillery on North Uist is the North Uist Distillery Co. - creators of Downpour Gin - which is located in the north west of the island. 

    In the summer of 2020, it was announced by the founders of North Uist Distillery Co. had acquired a new site on the Isle of Benbecula. This would allow the company to broaden their range by adding whisky to their offering. 

    When the new distillery is opened it could become Scotland's most westerly whisky distillery and also the first legal whisky distillery on the island!

    Uist folk are no strangers to a single malt with stories and songs passed through the generations telling of illicit stills supplying whisky for crofters, fishermen and other island friends to enjoy a dram or two a after a hard days work.

    The new site is the historic Nunton Steadings, a U-shaped building dating back to the early 1700s and where Bonnie Prince Charlie is reported to have taken shelter while on the run in the aftermath of Culloden.

    Nunton Steading - home of North Uist Distillery

    North Uist Distillery Co.

    The beautiful island surroundings inspire everything that the team behind North Uist Distillery Co. do. The company was founded by couple Kate MacDonald and Jonny Ingledew who both grew up on the island before relocating to the mainland to follow their careers.

    The love of island life and with both of their families being an integral part of the island community, the draw of going home to North Uist and creating a new chapter in the stories of their families was too strong to resist. 

    Jonny has a background in distilling and brewing the time was right for him to go it alone as a master distiller, creating history on his island home in the process. Many generations of Kate's family have been crofters on North Uist and she is proud that the new distillery gives crofters a reason to grow the island's trademark organic bere barley. 

    Downpour Gin is the flagship product and was the first to be released in April 2019.

    Downpour Dry Gin

    Downpour Gin

    Downpour Scottish Dry Gin is distilled using a blend of citrus fruits including lemon, orange and grapefruit peel as well as locally foraged wild Hebridean heather which delivers slightly sweet notes.

    The gin gin bursts into life with a splash of tonic, releasing essential oils from specially selected botanicals, drenching you in island flavour. This results in a slightly cloudy G&T.

    We highly recommend enjoying as a classic G&T over ice with a premium tonic and a wedge of your favourite citrus fruit.

    For something really special, add a sprig of rosemary or some heather.

    Downpour Gin & Tonic Serve

    Find out more about Downpour Gin and the range from North Uist Distillery Co.

    North Uist Distillery Co.

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    Mackintosh Old Tom - October 2020

    Ally Hardy

    The October Gin of the Month for our Scottish Gin Club members is the award-winning Old Tom Gin from Mackintosh Gin.

    With the nights drawing in and the shorter days upon us, we feel that the super refreshing gin which is distilled with grapefruit and pineapple is the perfect pick-me-up while remembering the warmer days of summer.

    This is the first time we've included an Old Tom gin in our subscription boxes so we've included a brief overview of this gin style.

    Mackintosh Gin Range

    What is Old Tom Gin?

    Old Tom gin is slightly drier than a Dutch Genever but sweeter than London Dry. It was extremely popular in the 18th and 19th centuries before falling out of favour in the early 20th century and virtually disappearing altogether by the 1970s. 

    The style emerged when distilling processes were very basic which meant that the spirits were harsh and with some questionable chemicals used to cut spirits, many distillers sweetened their gin with liquorice or sugar to make them drinkable. This created the Old Tom category.

    With advances in distilling processes and techniques, there became less need to sweeten the base alcohol and tastes moved towards the drier styles of gin.

    After many decades in the wilderness, the Old Tom style re-emerged in the mid 2000s when cocktail culture re-awoke.

    Old Tom gins are great as they are not too far removed from many London Dry gins but are also accessible to those who do not enjoy a traditional dry gin.

    Mackintosh Old Tom Gin Key Facts

    Launched: April 2020
    ABV: 40%
    Location: Angus

    The Mackintosh Family

    The Mackintosh Gin Story

    Based in Angus and launched in 2018, Mackintosh Gin, is the brainchild of James and Deborah Mackintosh. However, their gin journey began 2 years before the first gin was launched.

    James grew up in Dundee while Deborah grew up in nearby Perth. James moved to Perth in his early teens and it was there he met Deborah with the couple falling in love at a young age. After spending many years living and working in different locations, including around Scotland and abroad, it was time for Jim and Deborah to find the perfect place to settle down and start their family. Unable to decide on Perth or Dundee, they couple eventually opted for an area in rural Angus just south of the town of Meigle.

    With James and Deborah sharing a passion for both the outdoors and gin, rural Angus was the perfect choice as it is an area known for its natural beauty and fine food & drinks. 

    The couple spent many hours attending gin festivals, masterclasses and tasting events, enjoying the thriving gin scene around Scotland. After they purchased bottle number 50 they thought about creating their own gin. Two years, and another 50 bottles on their gin shelf, that thought became a reality with the launch of Mackintosh Gin.

    Mackintosh Gin is a family affair with James and Deborah’s three daughters all playing a part in the brand and product development.

    The first gin was launched in 2018 and is a traditional London Dry style. In April 2020 the family grew from 1 to 3 with the launch of the Old Tom & Mariner Strength Gins.

    Mackintosh Old Tom Gin

    Created, distilled and bottled in batches of less than 300 bottles, Mackintosh Old Tom Gin has been distilled with fresh pineapple and grapefuit.

    In total, it's distilled using a bouquet of ten botanicals which are sourced from around the world including juniper, Mediterranean citrus fruits and locally foraged elderflower. The grain spirit has been cut using the purest Angus water.

    On the nose, the gin is juniper led with hints of elderflower and sweet undertones of the pineapple and grapefruit. On the palate, it's smooth with a sweet citrus taste before a citrus burst to finish.

    The gin was awarded a Bronze Medal in this year's London Spirits Competition.

    Mackintosh Old Tom Gin Serve

    Serving Suggestions

    We highly recommend serving a 50ml measure of the Old Tom Gin over ice with 100ml of a classic tonic (such as Walter Gregor's) and finished with a pineapple wedge.

    However, with it's sweeter profile, the gin is perfect for some experimentation in cocktails and also pairs well with lemonade.

    Charlotte, one of the Mackintosh family and brand ambassador, is not a huge fan of tonic and this provided the inspiration for creating a gin that pairs perfectly with lemonade. 


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    Island Hopping with Scottish Gin - Isle of Colonsay

    Ally Hardy

    We've travelled further west from the Isle of Jura and are now on Colonsay - an island in the Inner Hebrides and the home of Wild Thyme Spirits.

    Colonsay lies around 20 miles from the mainland and is between Islay and Mull. Together with Oronsay, an island connected by a tidal causeway, the islands are around 10 miles in length and 2 miles wide and are home to around 135 inhabitants.

    Although small in size, there is no shortage of things to do on Colonsay, especially for the lovers of the outdoors and wildlife enthusiasts. 

    Kiloran Bay on the Isle of ColonsY

    As the island is relatively flat with few steep or long hills it's great for walking and cycling. The unique climate and geology of Colonsay is perfect for wildlife and there are several distinct habitats including woodland, moorland, peat bogs, meadows, raised beaches and the shoreline which are home to an array of species.

    The corncrake, one of Britain's rarest birds, is Colonsay's most famous avian resident and is part of the reason for the RSPB's permanent presence on Colonsay and Oronsay. More unusual inhabitants of the eastern shoreline of Colonsay are the wild goats, reputedly the descendants of Spanish goats carried on an Armada vessel shipwrecked on Colonsay.   

    Brewing and Distilling on Colonsay

    Colonsay is the smallest island in the world to have its own brewery and distillery. There are two active gin distilleries on the island: Wild Island Distillery and Wild Thyme Spirits.

    Colonsay Brewery has been at the heart of island community since 2007 and lends its support to all major events and festivals on the island. Since the start of 2019 Wild Island Botanic Gin is also distilled on the island in a plant that is connected to the brewery.

    In August 2016, the story of Wild Thyme Spirits began when husband and wife team, Finlay and Eileen Geekie, moved from Oxfordshire to Colonsay.

    Wild Thyme Spirits Gin Lovers Retreat

    Wild Thyme Spirits

    Having lived in Oxfordshire for over 30 years, the Geekies packed up all their possessions to move to their newly completed, self-build house to start a new life in the Hebrides. 

    When starting their new business they wanted to combine their love of gin with their desire to create a viable future while making a significant contribution to the development of the island economy and community.

    There are two main arms of the business at Wild Thyme Spirits - the spirits and the Gin Lover's Retreat. 

    During a stay at the Gin Lover's Retreat you can immerse yourself in island life, exploring every corner of the island. Finlay and Eileen have put together some suggested itineraries for your weekend but will also help you to create your own if there are specific things you'd like to do. Once you're finished exploring you can sit back, relax and enjoy the collection of over 200 gins from around the world. This collection includes their own range of gins and liqueurs.

    When Wild Thyme Spirits started the gins were initially contract distilled off the island. However, production was moved to the island in the spring/summer of 2018 and takes place in their 100 litre copper still which produces around 160 bottles per batch.

    Wild Thyme Spirits Colonsay Gin BottlePhoto by Simon Lees 

    Colonsay Gin

    Colonsay Gin is a classic juniper-led, London Dry style gin which combines angelica root, calamus root and coriander with some top secret botanicals for a clean, crisp gin that's as refreshing as a dip in the clear blue waters of Kiloran Bay.

    It's smooth and slightly sweet with strong juniper notes reminiscent a pine-fresh walk through woodlands before the flavour develops into a delicate balance of spice, peppery notes and lingering lemon sherbet.

    We recommend serving a double measure over ice with a premium tonic and a ribbon of orange peel.


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