Kind of surreal to taste a wine or spirit and come to find yourself in the same city where that wine or spirit is made. Not so surreal for us who live in California and visit local wineries. But imagine this: you are not at home but instead in a faraway place like Edinburgh, Scotland. And come to find that a gin you had tasted locally was made there, and offered tours, if you booked about a month in advance. And I had.
Immerse yourself and your guests in the Edinburgh Gin experience with a tour and tasting at our West End distillery in the heart of Edinburgh city centre. An interactive journey through the history of gin, with insights into our signature botanicals and a close-up look at our stills, our tours conclude with a guided tasting of a selection of our gins and liqueurs.
History and Tasting
Kelly was the tour guide for our group of about a dozen gin-lovers. We began with a simple lesson in distillation. Then a bit of gin history was shared with us:
- Stronger than beer, gin made strong soldiers of the Dutch and the term “Dutch courage” was then born in the United Kingdom.
- It was drunk by the pint at first, like beer.
- Then the ‘Gin Craze” began that included home distilling and nursing mothers making early alcoholics of their babies. This changed with the introduction of tea and coffee, and caffeine replaced gin. Also, when the beer belly was no longer fashionable – the Victorian era – and corsets were introduced.
- Gin with tonic and bitters helped protect the soldiers from sickness.
- The James Bond Dr. No movie was the first known product placement with gin.
- Gin had heavy competition with Smirnoff vodka when they introduced their “Smirnoff vodka leaves you breathless” print ads showing scantily clad housewives enjoying vodka.
- Edinburgh Gin began distilling their original gin in 2010 (previously they were a whisky distiller). Ingredients to add aroma and flavor always includes juniper and their gin may also have coriander seed, angelica root, citrus (bitter orange peel, lime peel, lemongrass) mulberry, cassia (like cinnamon), licorice root, Scottish botanicals (Douglas Fir from the Highlands, milk thistle, cobnuts), and orris root (root of the iris flower).
- They distill 5-6 times per week and it only takes one day to make a gin. One large “teabag” of botanicals is used for one batch of gin.
We were to taste five gins – including two flavored gin liqueurs – at the end of our tour. We were seated in a small cave-like room, with many glasses and bottles lined up. Many tasted the gins and then added different Fever Tree tonics. I tasted all as single spirits – thoroughly enjoying myself. The Sea Smoke version was salty to all and benefited with some tonic though. The Cannonball Navy Strength at 57% alcohol by volume was quite nice. And the 1670 – the year that the Royal Botanical Garden opened – was my favorite. The two liqueurs were very popular with everyone.
We were gifted one half size bottle each as part of the tour’s fee, and also purchased a bottle of one of our favorites – the 1670 – to take home.
In the bustling centre of our home city, the Edinburgh Gin Distillery is a destination unlike any other. It’s here that we welcome guests from all over the world to discover more about Edinburgh’s historic gin heritage, and explore our atmospheric working distillery. The Edinburgh Gin Distillery tours are ranked in the top 20 of Edinburgh Visitor Attractions on Tripadvisor, and our boutique 5-Star distillery offers visitors the chance to discover how we make our award-winning gin.
Advance booking is essential: https://www.edinburghgin.com/distilleries-and-tours?p=distilleries-and-tours
Distillery & Visitor Centre, Westend
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com