Scotland is not only Scotch Whisky, it has now become a fast growing territory for a famous juniper-based spirit, gin. But if you think gin is a new trend over there, you’re wrong ! While it’s getting more and more popular amongst the young generations and trendy mixologists as a drink of choice, it was once more consumed in Scotland than whisky !
In the early 1700s, gin was indeed safer to drink than water, and cheaper than beer. This period is known as the “Gin Craze” and the annual gin consumption could reached 14 gallons a year. However, many people still think that gin is mostly an English beverage even though 70% of Britain’s gin is produced north of the border…
Chris Sproule, Alston Bar and Beef’s gin expert, explains that Scotland has a proud history in distillation, producing many of the finest whiskies in the world, and this has provided the perfect framework for the current gin resurgence with many Scottish distillers making the most of the purity of Scottish water to produce gin.
The flavouring ingredients in gin are all natural and are referred to as ‘botanicals’. All gins include juniper as an ingredient but the type and quantity of each producer’s botanicals vary according to their own recipes.
56 North Scottish Gin Map
Michelle Kiefer explains this gin revival : “Tourists nowadays don’t come to Scotland to taste the gin, but the country’s forgotten spirit is making a comeback. “In Scotland we’ve had a gin renaissance,” says Ewan Angus of Edinburgh Gin. The launch of Hendrick’s in 1999 was the game-changer, and since then there has been a rise in craft gin production in Scotland. Edinburgh Gin launched in 2006, making the spirit from a traditional recipe originating in Leith of milk thistle, heather, and pine. Other small distillers, such as Caorunn, NB Gin, and Pickering’s Gin, are changing the perception of gin as an artisan product rather than a mass-market liquor.”
“Maybe it’s resourcefulness that also contributed to the rise of the craft gin movement. Edinburgh Gin is a product of Spencerfield Spirit Company, a family-run distillery that specialized in whisky before launching a small batch gin. Other whisky distilleries have started to venture into gin territory, such as Bruichladdich Distillery on the Isle of Islay which now produces The Botanist. Unlike Scotch whisky, which takes a minimum of three years to mature, gin production is a three day process. In a way, gin easily goes hand in hand with whisky, allowing distillers to expand their offerings while the Scotch finishes slowly in its oak casks.”
As new distilleries have been built in Scotland those recent years, they tend to produce premium gin while waiting for their first whisky to be old enough to be bottled. Here comes this questionning : is this all about fast money and is this all new “gin fashion” meant to become an evanescent fad or a lasting trend ?