Island Hopping with Scottish Gin - Isle of Colonsay

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.