Our May Gin of the Month comes from the picturesque Borders town of Peebles.
1881 Hydro Gin is distilled within Peebles Hydro Hotel which has sat proudly above the town since 1881. The distillery was incorporated in 2018 with the first gin released the following year.
The inspiration for the distillery was born from the hotel's past and the range has been developed to tell the story of the hotel through the years.
The 1881 Distillery Story
The distillery takes it's name from the year that the hotel first opened. The hotel offered a wide range of revolutionary therapeutic water treatments, attracting guests from across Scotland and further afield.
Shieldgreen spring - Peebles Hydro's private water source - was the water source for the treatments. The purity of the water was well-known for 'alleviating' a wide range of ailments. Although more dubious about these claims today, the spring is still supplying the hotel and the distillery with fresh, mineral-rich water. The Shieldgreen spring was the inspiration behind the Hydro Gin - the first gin released from the distillery and the base for the rest of the range.
The idea of building a gin distillery came one summers day when standing in front of the steps to the tennis pavilion on the front lawn. In the 1920s Peebles Hydro had more tennis courts than Wimbledon and hosted many tournaments at that time. Gin and tonic was a popular tipple, served on the lawn to the crowds that gathered to watch. Would it be possible to turn the water from the spring to gin and create a gin to honour the history of the hotel.
It was quickly discovered that the plan to house the distillery in the pavilion would not work as there was not enough space for all of the distilling equipment. This prompted the move to set up the distillery and gin school in the main hotel.
The 1881 Distillery Gin School is located in what was the swimming pool in the original hotel. Today, it houses 26 individual copper stills which are lined up in rows and accompanied by jars full of botanicals to allow you to create your very own unique gin.
1881 Hydro Gin
Released in August 2019, the Hydro Gin was the first spirit produced by 'Felicity' - 1881's gin still. There are a total of 12 botanicals in the London Dry gin, many of which are grown in the hotel's botanical garden.
Hydro Gin's botanicals are juniper, coriander, angelica root, bay leaves, cassia, cardamom, hawthorn berries, milk thistle, birch, grains of paradise, fir needles and grapefruit.
The gin is smooth on the palate and has hints of fresh forest walks through the Borders. Hawthorn, birch and fir back up the initial wave of piney juniper before giving way to warming cassia and bay leading to a smooth citrus finish.
The combination of locally grown botanicals and water from the private spring ensure that the Hydro Gin is completely unique.
As a London Dry Gin, we believe that the 1881 Hydro Gin is best served as a traditional G&T.
Serve with plenty of ice, top up with the Bon Accord Tonic Water (or a similar classic tonic) and garnish with a twist of fresh pink grapefruit.
1881 Rafters Gin
Rafters Gin is a subtly smoked gin which was developed as a nod to the fire that engulfed Peebles Hydro in the summer of 1905.
The fire was caused by a spark in the roof space and it took until 1907 to rebuild the hotel at a cost of £37000.
There are notable but subtle hints of smoke on the palate and the gin pairs very well with tonic and garnished with lime and ginger or a little chilli.
1881 Pavilion Pink Gin
As mentioned, tennis was a popular pastime at Peebles Hydro throughout the 1920s with the Lawn Tennis Scottish Championships being hosted at the hotel during the 1930s.
City dwellers used to flock from the cities down to Peebles Hydro to indulge themselves in the clean fresh air of the country. The Pavilion Pink Gin is a celebration of those floral, fruity light summer days. It's made with a classic gin backbone with the addition of wild Scottish red berries and hibiscus to give the delightful pink hue.
We recommend serving with the tonic of your choice, a sprig of mint and some fresh raspberries.
1881 Honours Navy Strength Gin
The final gin in 1881's core range is the Honours Gin. In 1939, the Hydro was was requisitioned as a Military General Hospital during World War 2 with the main building housing around 1,200 beds.
It was August 1946 before the hotel opened its doors to guests again. The Navy Strength Gin is named in Honour of those injured during this time.
A bold statement at 57% ABV, but with extremely smooth waves of citrus and cardamom.
We hope you enjoy your Hydro Gin!
To find out more about the range from 1881 Distillery, click the link below: