Cairngorm Gin Company - Experience the spirit of the Scottish Highlands

Ally Hardy

The Cairngorm Gin Company

Launched in 2019 by Jack Smith, Cairngorm Gin was inspired by the land he lives in with his family. Jack was born and raised in the valley of the River Spey, in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. His family has lived in the Cairngorms National Park for decades, sharing a love and respect for the outdoors and the flora and fauna that surrounds their home.

From an early age Jack showed a passion for cooking and he followed his father, grandfather and wider family by entering into the hospitality and catering industry. When growing up, Jack showed an interest in sourcing the finest local ingredients to creat culinary masterpieces in the kitchen. He went on to work with number of Michelin-star chefs but he had an overwhelming desire to return to his roots in the Scottish Highlands. 

Cairngorm Gin Bottle

It was then that Jack decided to combine his desire for home with his deepening passion for Scottish Gin and to create a premium small batch gin that captured the essence of his Highland home.

Cairngorm Gin

When Jack returned to the Highlands to set up is own micro-distillery he worked alongside Master Distiller Lewis Scothern to create a truly unique recipe inspired by the local area.

The recipe uses a combination of nine botanicals including juniper, cloudberries, elderflower and Caledonian pine, partnered with coriander seed, orris root, sweet orange peel, angelica and kaffir lime.

Cairngorm Gin Botanicals
Wild, native Caledonian pine, elderflower, carpets of prickly juniper bushes and rare amber-coloured cloudberry thrive in the unique alpine climate of the Cairngorm Plateau and the lush valley below.

Cloudberry, one of the key botanicals used in Cairngorm Gin, and once abundant in the Cairngorms National Park are now quite rare. The finest cloudberries are sourced from Scandinavia to give drinkers the opportunity to experience their long-forgotten flavour. A rare amber-coloured fruit rich in vitamin C, and only found in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, Cloudberries share a flavour profile with raspberry and blackberry.

The botanicals are distilled along with crystal clear water from the River Spey which is collected by Jack. 

Cairngorm Gin is a wonderfully refreshing aromatic gin. This bold infusion of botanicals and Highland Mountain water results in a floral, fruity gin with subtle earthy tones.

Jack promotes an ‘each to their own’ approach when it comes to enjoying Cairngorm Gin, but he recommends serving neat over ice or with premium tonic, a slice of green apple, a raspberry and a blackberry.

Cairngorm Gin & Tonic Serve

The Distillery

Based in the grounds of Jack's family home, the distillery houses a traditional 50 litre copper pot still named 'Ginger'. The still was named after Jack's late grandfather - a man who was partial to a gin and tonic. In fact, he always maintained it was easier to make a G&T than a cup of tea!

Tasting takes place continuously at every stage to ensure only the very best of the spirit is captured. 

The still is able to produce around 70 bottles in each batch. Some batches will produce less but never more than 70. Each bottle is then hand written with the bottle number, batch code and year of production on it. 

To find out more or to purchase a bottle of this premium Scottish Highland Gin, click the link below.

Cairngorm Scottish Highland Gin

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Our Favourite Scottish Gin Bottle Designs

Ally Hardy

Everyone has a reason for having a favourite bottle of gin. Whether it’s the first one you tried or the one used in your favourite cocktail? Maybe it’s the first gin someone got you as a gift or one that brings back great memories. Some may even choose their gins based on the bottle. We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its’ cover but with some truly beautiful designs out there, who are we to tell you what to do?

Here’s some of our favourite bottle designs - all still very tasty! It may be an eclectic mix but each beautiful in their own way! Find your perfect unusual gin bottle gift with our quick guide.

Achroous

Electric Spirit Co Achroous Gin Perfect Serve

(Price £38.95 | ABV 41% | Achroous 70cl)

Achroous ticks the boxes as a feat of modern design. Don’t just take our word for it, Electric Spirit Co. won not one but two awards in 2019 for this engaging and innovative bottle. The elegant minimalistic design is easily recognisable and printed straight on to the bottle, so there’s no plastic in sight. Good for the eyes and good for the Earth. Win win!

 

Lind & Lime

Lind & Lime Gin With Lime Garnishes

(Price £34.95 | ABV 44% | Lind & Lime 70cl)

Lind & Lime's bottle takes inspiration from the iconic history of Leith as the connection to mainland Europe for importing goods which arrive in barrels - such as wine, port, brandy, sherry; you know - the important stuff? Glass bottles were made in Leith for bottling on arrival and distributed from there. The wine bottle shape is a timeless classic with each bottle embossed with the words "Leith Glass Works", your shelves will thank you for this historic and eye-catching addition!

SOS Gin

SOS Gin Scotland's Other Spirit Bottle

(Price £42.50 | ABV 45% | SOS Gin 70cl)

SOS Gin - Scotland’s Other Spirit’s smooth, sleek, bottle seems like it’s been designed specifically for showing off in the most sophisticated of home bars. The eye-catching angel stands above the crisp branding, below the only colour to be seen on the bottle being a small Saltire shield to highlight the Scottish origins. To tie in the seamless elegance of the bottle, it has been finished with a clear glass stopper. A timeless classic.

 

 

Seven Crofts Gin Serve - Photo by Gin Cooperative

(Price £39.95 | ABV 43% | Seven Crofts 70cl)

Picking up Best New Lauch Design at the World Gin Awards 2020, Seven Crofts is a truly elegant and timeless bottle. The tall bottle features a green ombre inspiried by the surroundings of Ullapool. An easily recognisable statement bottle for your home bar. You won't want to throw it out when it's done. This is definitely one for a gin bottle lamp!

Glaswegin

Glaswegin Perfect Serve with Mint & Apple

(Price £38.50 | ABV 41.1% | McLean's Something Clear 50cl)

How could we write a blog about our favourite bottle designs and not include Glaswegin? Launched in early 2019, the team behind Glaswegin have already won themselves an astronomical number of design awards. The bottle, “inspired by the city and the people around us”, is clean cut, no nonsense and ultimately alluring. The edged bottle separates itself from others in the market and is instantly recognisable as a modern classic. Have it on show in your home bar for an instant conversation piece!

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Mothers Day 2021 - Perfect Gift Guide

Ally Hardy

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and there’s no better time to show your mum (or grandma!) just how much you love them - with a gift as special as they are. 

Our gift guide was made with the mum’s in our life in mind and having a variety to choose from is key! Our Mother’s Day Gin Selection offer a wide selection to choose from and we’re sure you’ll be able to find the perfect Scottish gin gift. Whether it’s her favourite you’re after or you want to get her something new to try. We’ve got you covered!

Our unique Mother’s Day Gifts will delight the mothers in your life – a day and a gin they’ll never forget!

1. Four Marys Gin Gift Set (4 x 5 cl)

Linlithgow Distillery Four Marys Gin Gift Set

(Price £24 | Zesty Sherbet ABV 46% | Bonny Bramble ABV 40% | Forever Fresh ABV 40% | Subtly Spiced ABV 40%)

The Four Marys Gin Gift Set showcases each of the expressions from the Four Marys Collection by Linlithgow Distillery -  celebrating Mary Queen of Scots’ four ladies in waiting.

Each bottle provides an exciting, unique flavour; as distinct as your mum! The perfect present for your mum this Mother's Day.

This gift set contains a miniature of each of the four outstanding flavours - Zesty Sherbet, Bonny Bramble, Forever Fresh and Subtly Spiced beautifully presented in a gift pack, just make sure you don't forget the gift bag!

2. Walter Gregor Tonic Selection Pack
Walter Gregor Tonic Selection Pack
(
Price £9.50 | 5 x 200 ml)

The delicate range of subtle and more-ish flavours in the Walter Gregor Tonic Selection Pack will enhance any gin!

The wonderful light tonic is infused with botanicals handpicked from the walled garden Walter Gregor tended to himself, each pair beautifully with Scottish Gin for the perfect gift!

There’s something for all mums in this beautifully presented gift box of five refreshing tonics – Original Tonic Water, Apple & Cinnamon Tonic Water, Scottish Raspberry Tonic Water, Spiced Tonic Water and Mint & Cucumber Tonic Water.

Each made with only the freshest ingredients and absolutely no artificial preservatives, colours or flavours – just a whole lot of love!

3. Lind and Lime Gin & Tonic Gift Set
Lind & Lime Gin and Tonic Bundle
(Price £48.50 | ABV 44% | 70cl Lind & Lime Gin | 4x Cushiedoos Scottish Tonic Water | Gin Glass)

This beautifully presented Lind & Lime Gin & Tonic Gift Set is the perfect gift for the gin lover in your life.

Lind & Lime is a deliciously dry gin made with botanicals including lime rind, giving it a smooth citrus burst.

Included in the bundle is a gin glass for the perfect pour and four bottles of quinine free Cushiedoos Scottish Tonic to complement the smooth, refreshing botanicals of the gin.

4. Isle of Bute Heather Gin

Isle of Bute Heather Gin & Tonic

(Price £34.95 | ABV 43% | 70cl Isle of Bute Heather Gin)

Isle of Bute Heather Gin is a lovingly crafted Scottish Gin, taking influence from the beautiful island, pink grapefruit is added alongside handpicked Isle of Bute heather for a fruity citrus taste.

This isn’t a pink gin like what you’re used to – the full-strength subtle flavour could have been made with the modern mother in mind! Now you’ve got the perfect gift, don’t forget your bottle bag!

5. Glaswegin Original Gin & Tonic Bundle

Glaswegin Gin & Tonic Bundle

(Price £52 | ABV 41.1% | 70cl Glaswegin Gin | 4x Cushiedoos Scottish Tonic Water | Gin Glass)

This beautifully presented Glaswegin Gin & Tonic Gift Set is the perfect gift for the premium gin lover in your life.

Glaswegin has been making waves since it launched in 2019. Due to its balanced taste and distinguished bottle design, this gin is one in a million.

Included in the bundle is a gin glass for the perfect pour and four bottles of quinine free Cushiedoos Scottish Tonic to complement the Glaswegin’s no-nonesense gin flavour.

6. Devil's Staircase Spiced Gin

Pixel Spirits Devil's Staircase Gin

(Price £38.95 | ABV 42% | 70cl Devil’s Staircase Gin)

Devil’s Staircase is a perfect gift for someone who is always ahead of the curve. An adventurous take on gin, Devil’s Staircase provides a perfect palate-tingling warmth.

Named after the walking route from Glencoe to Kinlochleven, just a few miles from the distillery, Devil’s Staircase is a match made in heaven for adventurous mums!

7. McLean’s Floral Gin

McLean's Floral Gin

(Price £34.00 | ABV 37.5% | 70cl McLean’s Floral Gin)

McLean’s Floral Gin is a wonderful gift for any Mum this Mother’s Day! The bold flavour is carried by combining orange and sweet fennel with floral flavours including hibiscus and rose.

See her face light up as the gin changes colour from blue to pink when tonic is added. A truly magical experience each and every time.

8. Hills & Harbour Gin Gift Set

Hills & Harbour Gin Gift Set

(Price £45.00 | ABV 40% | 70cl Hills & Harbour Gin | 2 x Gin Glasses | Tasting Notes Card)

A stunning gift set which is perfect for any gin lover. Hills & Harbour is a 'grain to glass' gin which is made using 11 botanicals including locally sourced noble fir needles and bladderwrack seaweed for a balanced gin wth hints of the forest floor, tropical fruit, citrus spice and a subtle scent of the shore.

The set contains 2 beautiful branded gin glasses and a tasting note card with serving suggestions. All comes presented in a gift box. 

9. Isle of Bute Island Gin with Gift Tube

Isle of Bute Island Gin in Gift Tube

(Price £18.00 | ABV 43% | 20cl Island Gin)

The Island Gin has been inspired by the quaint Scottish island on the west coast. 

It's a perfect blend of traditional gin botanicals with fruity and herbaceous notes and pairs delightfully with a light tonic as well as some lime and mint.

Both the bottle and the gift tube feature artwork is painted by Scottish landscape artist Emma S Davis. Morning Reflections depicts the calming scene at Port Bannatyne - a small village just to the north of the island distillery.

9. Scottish Gin Club 3 Month Gift Membership

Scottish Gin Club 3 Month Gift Membership

(Price £120.00 | 3x Scottish Gins | Complementary Mixers | Tasting Notes | 1x Gin Glass)

Give the gift that keeps on giving with a membership to our Craft56° Scottish Gin Club! 

As a member of our gin club your mother will receive amazing gins from some of Scotland's newest and most exciting distilleries. We pair these with Scottish tonics/mixers and include tasting notes with serving suggestions as well as information on the gin and the producers. The first delivery will also include a gin glass to enjoy the gins from!

You can choose whether the boxes arrive in 3 consecutive months, every 2 months or every 3 months. The first deliveries will arrive by Saturday 13th March in time for the special day!   

This is just a small taste of the huge selection we offer. In our full range of gifts, you’ll find the perfect gin to make Mother’s Day shopping, quick, easy and unforgettable!

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How To Taste Gin - Our Comprehensive Guide

Ally Hardy

Here at Craft56°, we stock over 100 different varieties of Scottish Gin each with their own blend of botanicals and flavour profile. Once you’ve received your gin, can you trust just your tongue to distinguish between the variety of tastes? Keep reading if you want to know how to experience the full flavour of your new bottle of gin like a true expert.

Small batch Scottish gins are designed and produced with care and attention to ensure that the gin provides an exceptional taste. You want to make sure that if you’ve invested in a bottle that you can experience the full range of flavours available.

1. Choose the Perfect Glass
First things first – your glass. The Copa de Balon glass is a favourite for serving gin. The bulbous shape of the Copa de Balon glass collects and holds the botanical scents, making your drink taste better. We wrote an article with all the Copa de Balon info you could ever need! However, it does not need to be a copa de balon glass and any glass with a bulbous shape is equally effective to enhance the flavour of your gin.

Craft56 Gin Glass
2. Pour it Neat
While gin isn’t normally served neat, the easiest way to get a grasp of the full flavour profile is to serve the gin on its’ own. While it may seem tempting to pour a large measure, make sure you leave plenty of space to incorporate air with the spirit to unleash all the botanicals within the drink. Swirl the glass gently to introduce oxygen to the gin and bring the aromas to the top of the glass to make it easier to identify them.

3. Nose the Glass
Take a small sniff from just above the glass to avoid overpowering your senses. On the first sniff, you may pick up a lot of alcohol but continue to breathe slowly and the botanical aromas will take hold. Once you have begun to differentiate the scents, stick your nose in the glass and inhale deeply. You should have a good idea of the scents incorporated in the gin. Some of the most common scents that people associate with gin are citrus, earthy, spice, floral and wood. Use this information to try help you build the flavour profile.

4. Sip the Gin
Now for the best part – tasting the gin! Give your drink another swirl before taking the first sip. When you do take that sip, try to see if you can detect the same flavours you did when you nosed the drink. Swirl the gin around your mouth to touch each part – do you notice any further tastes opening? Aniseed, zest, or herbs? Swallow the gin and wait to see which flavours linger. Do new tastes emerge?

5. Mix Your Gin
Now you have an understanding of the taste and botanicals of the gin, you can choose your mixer if you want one. On some of our product listings, we recommend mixers and tonics based on botanicals used but you can make up your own mind. You can never go wrong with a neutral tonic like Walter Gregor tonic or a quinine free one like Love Tonic can be a great choice to further open up the flavours. Before you know it, you’ll be a gin connoisseur, picking mixers based on tasting notes, your nose and your own intuition!

6. Add a Pop of Colour
The final step in creating the perfect gin drink is the garnish. The only limit is what you can create! While your personal preference can influence your garnish of choice, matching your garnish to your botanicals enhances the flavour and can take your gin to the next level. We stock a variety of garnishes to suit any taste! 

 

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Scottish Tonic Water - The Perfect Pairing

Ally Hardy

Gin & Tonic go together like salt & pepper or bread & butter. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that with the growing number of Scottish gins hitting the market in recent years we’ve also seen the emergence of Scottish tonic waters.

Much like the introduction of gin into the United Kingdom, the credit must go to the military for the development of tonic water. A key ingredient in most tonic waters is quinine which is derived from the bark of the cinchona tree. Distinctively bitter, quinine was prescribed to control the risk of malaria. In order to improve the taste of the bitter medicine, it was mixed with soda water, sugar and, crucially, gin. So, the refreshingly delicious drink we know today was originally invented for medicinal purposes!

Find out more below about Scotland’s take on the world’s favourite partner for gin.

Walter Gregor’s Scottish Tonic Range

Walter Gregor's Scottish Tonic Selection

Hailing from Aberdeenshire and made by Claire Rennie and the team behind Summerhouse Drinks, Walter Gregor’s Tonic was the first Scottish tonic water.

Since launching with a classic tonic, the range has grown to include a variety of tonics with flavours including Scottish Rapsberry, Mint & Cucumber, Apple & Cinnamon and Spiced.

The inspiration for the name of the brand came from a 19th century minister who served the historic parish of Pitsligo on the Aberdeenshire coast by order of Queen Victoria. Gregor was a keen plantsman and spent a lot of time tending to the walled garden in his former manse in Peathill. The Rennie family purchased the manse and garden in the 1960s and Claire decided to make tonics using the walled garden to grow the botanicals as a testimony to Walter and his love for botanicals.

In addition to complementing the variety of Scottish gins, the Walter Gregor’s range of flavoured tonics also pair exceptionally well with other spirits including vodka, eau de vie and even whisky.

Cushiedoos Scottish Tonic Water

Cushiedoos Quinine Free TonicPhoto Credit: The Gin Cooperative

Cushiedoos (pronounced coo-she-doos) is a premium tonic water which is made in small batches using the purest spring water from the Cairngorm National Park and locally sourced Scottish botanicals including heather and silver birch.

Cushiedoos is unique as it does not use the traditional quinine as a bittering agent but instead uses yellow gentian and wormwood. This makes for a naturally lighter tonic that does not dry your palate in the way some classic tonic water will.

We’ve found that Cushiedoos is great with a number of gins and is perfect for anyone who claims not to like traditional tonic water.

The inspiration for Cushiesdoos came when Andrew Ligertwood (the founder) was on a romantic break in the Scottish Highlands with his wife Gillian. Everything on the drinks menu was Scottish except for the tonic which was paired with the array of Scottish gins. From that moment on Andrew knew he wanted to create a Scottish tonic. The name comes from the noise the wood pigeons make in the trees above Andrew & Gilly’s garden in Edinburgh.

Wood pigeons partner for life, just like gin and tonic!

Just the Tonic Scottish Tonic Water

Just The Tonic Scottish Tonic Water

Just a no-nonsense Scottish tonic water that’s clean, crisp and allows the gin to sing!

Lovingly handcrafted on the banks of the River Clyde outside Glasgow, Just the Tonic is made with no eccentric chemists, no foraged botanicals and no obscure garnishes!

The focus has been to make a great tonic that allow the flavour of the gin to shine through.

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The Secret Behind Blue Colour Changing Gins

Ally Hardy

There are now over 300 different being made in Scotland and amongst them are a growing number of colour changing gins.

We’re going to explore our favourite Scottish blue colour changing gins and the magical botanicals that give them their colour changing properties.

Behind each of the blue colour changing gins is a floral botanical which is included in the botanical blend. The inclusion of the flowers gives the gins their blue hue and also create the theatre of changing colour. The change happens when adding an acidic ingredient such as tonic water. The gins will go from the blue to a delicate lilac/pink colour.

Butterfly Pea Gins

Butterfly pea is an Asian botanical which has been used for many years in Asian cooking as well as in teas.

McLean’s Something Blue Gin

Something Blue Gin was first launched as a limited edition to mark the wedding of Colin & Jessica McLean, the husband and wife team behind McLean’s Gin, in June 2018. The gin was a marriage of Colin & Jessica’s two favourite botanicals; tonka bean and buchu leaf. These botanicals were combined with 4 secret botanicals along with butterfly pea flowers for a unique and intriguing gin.

McLean's Something Blue Colour Changing Gin

Something Blue has suggestions of summer fruits, mint, caramel and hand-rolled tobacco-leaf, supported by a fresh, herbaceous background. We recommend serving over ice with a quality tonic and finishing with some fresh mint and a slice of cucumber.

The gin proved to be so popular that it has now been released into McLean’s core range of gins.

 

Linlithgow Distillery Four Marys Forever Fresh Gin

Released in September 2019, the newest blue colour changing gin is Forever Fresh from the Four Marys series by Linlithgow Distillery.

Linlithgow Distillery Forever Fresh Colour Changing Gin

Forever Fresh is a refreshing combination of classic botanicals such as juniper and coriander with eucalyptus leaves, peppermint and lemon verbena for a cool, fresh gin that leaves the palate feeling wonderfully clean.

The vibrant blue colour will change to a delicate pink when tonic is added. We’d recommend finishing with a wedge of lime.

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Top 10 Facts About (Scottish) Gin

Ally Hardy

Here in Scotland we have a proud history of producing quality spirits. For many years Scotland has been synonymous with whisky and while our whisky is still second to none, over the past few years we've seen the dramatic emergence of Scottish Gin as a category in its own right.

Take a look at our top facts about gin (and Scottish gin) that will impress even the most knowledgeable gin connoisseur!

1. The name gin is a shortened form of genever which is derived from juniperus, the Latin name for the juniper berry

2. Juniper berries are not actually a berry, they are a fleshy seed cone. Aside from use in gin production, juniper berries are commonly used as a spice in European cuisine.

Juniper Berries

3. The mass appeal of gin dates back to the 17th century when the Dutch used it as a medicine. However, the earliest known mention of gin dates back to the 13th century

4. Gin first came to Scotland in the 1700s when it was traded at the Port of Leith in Edinburgh

5. In 2018 a record breaking 73 million bottles of gin were bought across the on and off-trade. Although commonly associated with England, Scotland produces over 70% of the gin produced in the UK

6. In 2017 people in Edinburgh drank more gin per head than in any other city in the UK

7. McLean's Gin started life in a 1.5m sq cupboard in a one bedroom tenement flat in the southside of Glasgow. At the time they were (probably) the smallest commercial gin producer in the UK. However, having moved house in 2018, McLean's now produce in a purpose built ginnery. 

McLean's Gin 'Gin Lab'McLean's 'Gin Lab'. Photo Credit: Robert Perry, Evening Times

8. Alongside the growing number of small-batch craft gin producers, 3 of the world's best selling gin brands are made in Scotland - Gordon's, Hendrick's and Tanqueray

9. To be classed as gin, the predominant flavour of must be juniper but there are no other regulations around the other botanicals used, the possibilities are endless. The Botanist is made using a total of 31 botanicals, 22 of them are foraged on Islay and Crossbill is made using only juniper and one other botanical - rosehip, both handpicked in The Highlands!

Crossbill Gin

10. There are now approximately 300 Scottish gins made by over 100 different brands. The numbers just keep on growing!

Check out our growing range of Scottish Craft Gins >

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The History of Gin in Scotland

Ally Hardy

Scotland is at the forefront of the current ‘gin boom’ with over 70% of the gin made in the UK being made in Scotland. This includes Gordon’s (the world’s biggest selling gin), Hendrick’s, Tanqueray as well as a host of small-batch, independent producers from every corner of Scotland.

There are now around 100 gin distilleries in Scotland, the majority of which started production after 2009 when a legal case was won against HMRC and companies won the right to distil in small scale as opposed on an industrial scale.

However, Scotland’s association with gin dates back much further than the last 10 years! Scotland’s love affair with gin can be traced back to the 1700s and is largely associated with Leith.

Gin LaneGin Lane by William Hogarth, 1751

Leith was at the centre of early Scottish gin production for many reasons. Firstly, there was already a thriving whisky industry in the area which meant there were skilled tradesmen in glass-making, coopering and warehousing.

Secondly, as a dockside town which was relatively close to the Netherlands (Scotland’s most important trading partner at the time), there was easy access to spices and raw materials which were vital for gin production.   

By 1777 there were 8 licensed gin distilleries in Edinburgh alone. There were also a huge number of unlicensed stills in operation too (thought to be around 400).

The quality of gin being distilled was inconsistent until the early 1800s when Robert Stein revolutionised gin production by moving away from traditional pot stills and developed a method which allowed for continuous production. This meant the spirit could be produced much more efficiently and in greater quantities.

Stein’s invention was later refined by Aeneas Coffey, an Irish distiller credited with the creation of the twin column still. This again increased efficiency of gin production.

Coffey Still

During the first ‘gin craze’ the most popular style of gin was Old Tom - a sweeter style of gin which often contained sugar. Old Tom faded in popularity in the early 20th century.

The invention of the twin column still made distilling neutral spirits practical and Scottish distillers were soon exporting neutral grain spirit to London and which led to the creation of London Dry Gins in the late 19th century.

The sales of gin continue to thrive until the late 1950s when vodka took over as the most fashionable drink. Gin sales slumped and by the mid-1970s there were no gin distilleries left in Edinburgh which was once the centre of the Scottish gin industry.

It wasn’t until the late 1980s and the launch of Bombay Sapphire that gin sales slowly started to recover. 2003 also saw the creation of Hendrick’s Gin, a premium gin that differed in style from the London Dry style and this innovation, along with the 2009 change of distilling regulation, led to the current small-batch premium gin revolution.

The Tower Street StillhousePhoto Credit: The Gin Cooperative

Gin production has gone full-circle and amongst the growing number of Scottish gin distilleries is the Tower Street Stillhouse which is home to Port of Leith Distillery & Electric Spirits Co. and sits just a stone’s throw from the docks where it all began.

We now have over 100 gins in our bottleshop, all produced in different locations around Scotland. View our full range of Scottish Gins >

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Why is Gin Known as Mother's Ruin?

Ally Hardy

With the rapid increase of craft gins emerging on the scene, we thought we'd look into why exactly is one of our favourite tipples also known as “Mother’s Ruin”?

The phrase “Mother’s Ruin” is regularly used across the UK as another term for gin, yet the reason behind how this phrase originated remains unclear. So, to find out more, we first need to delve deeper into the history of gin.

Throughout the Thirty Years War in Central Europe from 1618-1648, British soldiers were provided with gin to settle their nerves. At the same time, the spirit was also used in London as a medicine to treat kidney problems or indigestion. Following on from this, “Jenever” was regularly imported from the Netherlands to the UK since it was so cheap.

“Jenever” is the traditional, juniper-based liquor from the Netherlands which was adapted by producers in England who used their own grains to produce their own versions of the spirit, which gradually evolved into the gin we know and love today. Traditional Bottle of Jenever By the early 1700s, the production of gin in London remained unlicensed, with the Government choosing to tax other spirits such as French brandy instead. Consequently, thousands of gin shops emerged across England during a period known as “The Gin Craze”.

Traditional Bottle of JeneverA bottle of Traditional Jenever

In London alone, approximately 7,000 gin shops emerged and around 10-4 million gallons of gin were produced every year in London during this time. However, while “The Gin Craze” ensured the price of gin remained cheaper than other spirits, societal issues of mass overpopulation and poverty in England the 1730s meant that gin became popular with poorer members of the public, especially women. Unfortunately, the surging popularity resulted in damaging consequences. For example, rates of death from alcohol increased as well as crime rates. Not only this, but mothers were said to have neglected their family and their children as a result of the addictive nature and high alcohol content of the spirit. According to various sources, this is where the history of “Mother’s Ruin” emerges from.

Following the increased crime and alcohol-related death rates, the Government at the time decided to implement various pieces of legislation in an attempt to tackle these issues. In 1736, the Government introduced “The Gin Act” and implemented both a high licensing fee and retail tax price for gin sellers. When this led to riots in the city of London amongst the poorer members of society, who rejected the new legislation, the Act was amended in 1751. Within this Act, the Government prevented the sale of gin to unlicensed merchants and restricted the permit of licenses to substantial property holders. During this time, the Government also decided to promote non-alcoholic alternatives in an attempt to address the societal issues exacerbated by “The Gin Craze”. The tea industry was therefore encouraged by the Government to improve the health of its citizens.

Gin Lane ImageGin Lane by William Hogarth

Overall, despite the fact that the exact origins of the term may remain unclear, “Mother’s Ruin” was developed as a term to describe some of the detrimental consequences of “The Gin Craze” that emerged in London after the Thirty Years War.

We're currently going through a very different 'gin craze' here in Scotland and the UK as a whole and you can view our full range of Scottish Craft Gins.

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What is Navy Strength Gin?

Ally Hardy

The story behind what we know today as navy strength gin began during the first ‘gin boom’ in the 18th century.

The Royal Navy legislated that there had to be a certain amount of gin on each vessel while they were sailing on the high seas. Gin was required on board to help fight illness and diseases which were rife.

However, some of the officers were suspicious of the gin, especially as the quality varied so much from city to city and felt it had been overly watered down.

In order to test the gin was of an acceptable quality, it was tested by lighting a mixture of the spirit and gunpowder. If it burned with a clear flame this was ‘proof’ that the spirit was of sufficient standard (at least 114 proof or 57% ABV in today’s terms). Failure to light or a smoky flame were signs that the spirit was below the required strength.

Despite links to the 18th century, the term ‘navy strength gin’ is actually a marketing creation from the 1990s which was coined to help sell high strength spirits. All navy strength gins are bottled at a minimum of 57.1% ABV and are fantastic for cocktails as the gin characteristics can stand up to the other flavours.

As the number of distilleries and gins have grown in recent years so has the number of Scottish navy strength gins on the market. Below are some of our favourites.

Scottish Navy Strength Gins

Badachro 57° Storm Strength Gin
Bottle Size: 70 cl  |  Price: £45.00 

Badachro Storm Strength Gin

Badachro Distillery's take on navy strength gin is a full flavoured, high strength version of Badachro Gin. 

As the distillery sits close to the 57° north line of latitude in the North West Highlands of Scotland, it is no stranger ot the full force of West Highland storms. Therefore, it seemed only right to name their high-strength gin after the storms Badachro experiences.

We recommend Badachro's Storm Strength Gin sipped over ice or to make a classic G&T using a premium tonic water, lots of ice and a slice of lime. If available, a sprig of wild myrtle tops it off amazingly well.

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Inshriach Navy Strength Speyside Gin
Bottle Size: 70 cl  |  Price: £44.95 

Inshriach Navy StrengthPhoto Credit: The Gin Cooperative

Inshriach Distillery is based in the Caingorms National Park and is situated in the 2015 Channel 4 Shed of the Year!

The navy strength gin is packed full of the same botanicals that are present in the Original Gin but are blended in different proportions and greater quantities. The main difference between the Original and the Navy Strength Gin is that there's an extra layer of spice in the navy strength expression.

All the botanicals that are hand picked within a few miles of the distillery and the season they're picked in will make subtle differences to the taste.

A match for even the most flavoursome of mixers. Best served over ice with the mixer of your choice.

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Biggar Navy Strength Gin
Bottle Size: 70 cl  |  Price: £43.95

Biggar Navy Strength Gin

 

An ideal gin for any budding mixologist for those who like their gin to pack a punch. It's made with a slightly different recipe to the Biggar Original Gin but it has the same creamy smoothness.

Made using a combination of traditional and locally handpicked botanicals, the Biggar Navy Strength Gin includes fresh orange peel, fresh lemon peel, hawthorn berries, rowan berries and pink peppercorn.

If serving as a long drink then we recommend serving over ice with a premium tonic or ginger ale and a twist of orange peel. However, it is arguably best as the base of many classic gin cocktails as the flavours from the botanicals shine through.

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Crossbill 200 Special Edition Gin
Bottle Size: 50 cl  |  Price: £84.50

Crossbill 200 Special Edition Navy Strength Gin

Crossbil 200 is a rare special edition dry gin which has been made using handpicked juniper berries from a 200 year old specimen in Cairngorms National Park.

It's exceptionally rare for juniper to age for 200 years, especially in Scotland. When Crossbill found out about the rare find, they knew they had to do something special to honour the fruit!

Crossill 200 is a fresh and dry gin made with only juniper and rosehip which are distilled within 24 hours of being picked for a crisp taste - highlighting the rare juniper specimen.

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Mackintosh Mariner Strength Gin
Bottle Size: 70 cl  |  Price: £46.50

Mackintosh Mariner Strength Gin

The Mariner Strength is Mackintosh Gin's navy strength version of their award-winning Mackintosh London Dry Gin.

It's made with 9 carefully selected botanicals and being bottled at the higher strength 59% ABV, these botanicals really shine through. To taste, the Mariner Strength is juniper-led with floral and citrus flavours including Mediterranean citrus fruits and elderflower. The finish is a mild peppery spice.

While it still makes a cracking G&T, we think that it works best as a cocktail gin and it makes an ideal base for a Martini or Negroni. 

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