Our end of month round-up captures some of the exciting news from the wonderful world of Scottish Gin. From new Scottish Gin expressions to distillery openings and more. If you’ve got a story you’d like us to consider for inclusion in next month’s Scottish Gin News Round-up then email [email protected].
As expected, January has been a relatively quiet month for Scottish Gin news, as the UK and world continues with lockdown and strict restrictions in place. Even under normal circumstances, January usually provides a period of calm post-Christmas and an opportunity to reflect and plan for the year ahead. Whilst it’s difficult to make solid plans not knowing what the short term future looks like, Scotland’s gin makers have been strategising for every eventuality, which we’re hoping includes the return of on-trade and physical events in time for summer. With yesterday’s announcement from the Scottish government including plans to phase us out of lockdown from the end of February, things are looking up already. We all look forward to being more sociable and supporting our local businesses who have survived but suffered, including on-trade and hospitality based businesses, who will be able to stock up on some Scottish Gins once again.
We too have taken the time to reflect on 2020 having recently published 2020: A Year in Scottish Gin – taking a look at the numbers, the highs and lows, some tales from our time on the road, our predictions for Scottish Gin in 2021 and some straight talking advice for anyone looking to enter the Scottish Gin category – read it here.
Having launched our Scottish Gin Shop in December, January saw us announce our new Scottish Gin Subscription Service, which will launch in February. Our subscription service will put the focus on quality, value and discovery. In an effort to bring our customers the very best possible service, we’ve been analysing the results of our recent subscription survey, which is online for a few more days. If you haven’t already, please take two minutes to take part here – your input and feedback is greatly appreciated. Sign up to our mailing list here to be amongst the first to know when this is officially launched or email your interest to [email protected].
New Scottish Gins
Shetland Reel’s NOT Up Helly Aa 2021 Gin
A bitter sweet story about Shetland Reel’s limited edition NOT Up Helly Aa 2021 Gin. Like so many events, the annual celebration ‘Up Helly Aa’, which marks the end of the yule season on Shetland, was cancelled due to Covid-19 and so the distillery made a special batch of just 121 bottles for release in January. However, due to unprecedented demand following exclusive access to pre-orders just two days before official launch, the gin was already sold out! Co-founder Debbie Strang said “It’s the gin launch that never was for the Up Helly Aa that had to be cancelled!” Great news for the Saxa Vord distillery team, bad news for everyone who missed out! However, the core Up Helly Aa Gins are still available on their website here and we’ve been told to keep our eyes peeled for new limited edition special batch releases in the very near future…
McQueen Gin Anniversary Edition
McQueen Gin returned to their roots with a limited edition release of their ceramic bottle, which was their very first bottle design at launch five years ago in 2016. Each bottle is hand-finished exactly as they were in 2016 and packaged in an anniversary presentation box. The Oriental inspired Cherry Blossom Gin is described as wonderfully delicate and fruity, underpinned with the unmistakable juniper character of all McQueen Gins. You can still get your hands on this anniversary edition here.
Linlithgow Distillery’s ‘Be my Valentine’ Gin, supporting MND Scotland
Sold out in just 1 day, Linlithgow Distillery’s limited edition Valentine’s Gin was made in support of MND (Motor neurone disease) Scotland, with £5 from every bottle donated to the charity that provides care and support to people and families affected by the disease. A charity close to the brand’s heart, as one of the co-founders was diagnosed with MND in October 2019. The gin was distilled with Scottish purple raspberries, strawberries and locally foraged elderberries, sea buckthorn, hawthorn and rowan; a pink gin that is fresh on the palate with a subtle sweetness from the Scottish strawberries. Well done to those that got their hands on a bottle.
Scottish Gin News
McQueen Gin launch World’s Coolest Label
Blending technology with Scottish Gin and creating a unique gin drinker experience, the team at McQueen Gin has just launched the “world’s coolest gin labels”. Having recently rebranded their core range of Scottish Gin expressions, each of the 6 bottles contains a hidden surprise. Downloading the new McQueen Gin app from your mobile app store opens up a new experience on each of the McQueen Gins. Scanning the M on each bottle brings your gin to life right before your eyes with the app. With a number of different augmented reality experiences, you can take a virtual dive into the McQueen Gin black cherry and vanilla gin pool or discover the alchemy behind their colour changing gin. McQueen Gin invested a five figure sum in the Augmented Technology across their entire range in the both the technology and development of the packaging. Learn more here.
The Spirits Business The Gin Masters 2020
Congratulations to all of Scotland’s Gin makers and brands who were awarded medals following the second tasting results of the annual 2020 The Gin Masters, run by The Spirits Business, who have been running and judging the annual, internationally-acclaimed global spirits competition for over a decade. In this second round of winners, a special mention was given to Glaswegin, which was found be “full of fruity berries on the nose, with some earthiness and citrus on the palate. Categories and winners from Scotland were as follows:
- Super Premium Category – Isle of Raasay (Silver)
- London Dry Category – Glaswegin (Master), LoneWolf Gin (Gold), Ben Lomond Gin (Silver), Edinburgh Gin (Silver)
- Contemporary Category – Edinburgh Gin 1670 (Silver), Inspirited Bergamot Orange & Golden Kiwi (Silver)
- Navy Strength Category – Inspirited Spiced Navy Strength (Silver)
- Flavoured Category – Ben Lomond Gin Raspberry & Elderflower (Gold), Ben Lomond Gin Blackberry & Gooseberry (Silver)
Read the list of first round winners in our July news round-up here.
Scottish Gin Events
Although the traditional gin events, fairs and festivals have not been an option for any of us in the recent past, there are an increasing number of virtual events available, hosted by brand owners, ambassadors and distillery teams. There’s definitely something for everyone with a variety of event types out there, including cocktail masterclasses, meet the makers, distillery tours and private tastings. City of Aberdeen Distillery and Beinn an Tuirc Distillers, makers of Kintyre Gin are just two of a number of brands offering private virtual tastings right now that are proving very popular. So fortunately there’s no excuse not be sociable, even in lockdown!
Virtual Isle of Harris Distillers Cèilidh
We were delighted to attend our first virtual Isle of Harris Distillers cèilidh last weekend, where we joined distillery hosts Iona and Calum and close to 300 others from around the world for some storytelling, music and ‘craic’. There were some wonderful tales of the traditional Harris cèilidh, which isn’t always formal, as it officially means ‘a gathering’, of any shape or size, but usually involves a dram! Music was provided in three parts by the talented Josie Duncan (composer/singer/songwriter), Graham MacIllinnein (accordion) and Shona Masson (fiddle); all hailing from Lewis and Skye and well accustomed to the very Gaelic traditions of a cèilidh. It was also brilliant to hear from the wonderful Sandy Fraser, who is one of the original Tarbert Ten, who started when the distillery was first established back in 2015. We remember Sandy fondly from our own visit in 2019 and she’s itching to get back to the warmth and spirit of the distillery and tours, as are we at some point in the hopefully not too distant future. Learn more about the cèilidh’s Hebridean history here.
The Gin Cooperative Features January 2021
Here’s a look back at the editorial features we published in January 2021.
Scottish Gin News Round-Up December 2020 – read it here.
A Gin is Born, Darran Edmond, Illicit Spirits – read it here.
The Bramble, A brief history and recipe – read it here.
Our People, Highland Liquor Co. – read it here.
2020: A Year in Scottish Gin – read it here.