In the shadow of Edinburgh Castle we begin our tour of the Edinburgh Gin Distillery. Outside is grey and damp but inside it's all cosy and warm - plush, I might even say. Underground, or down the rabbit hole is where the magic works - it's all going to get, in the paraphrased words of Lewis Carroll: “Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alison (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).” She was also obviously one over the yardarm!
Today is a special day for me, as Edinburgh Gin was one of the first to peek my interest in the Gin Revival that was beGINning to sweep over Scotland. It was a new and smooth taste that dragged me away from a certain Indian Gem inspired drink and back to my Caledonian roots. So let us get a mouthful of where it all began. Our tipple of today will be Edinburgh Gin's original offering and at an ABV of 43% it is going to be heart-warming. There are two copper stills down this rabbit hole - one tall and elegant called Caledonia (a column still) and one squat and rotund called Flora (a pot still), like the ugly sisters but beautiful. It is from here that the magic of the botanical libation takes place.
The botanics are a curious mix - from what I can discern. There are the usual suspects of juniper, coriander seed and lemon peel giving us a skeleton frame hung with angelica root to boost the juniper and heather and thistle softening the middle notes with some cassia (a kissing cousin of cinnamon) coming in to enliven the spice mix. Then we have our old pal orris root to bind everything together.
Tasting time - so it's a good measure, firstly over ice. There is a solid juniper nose with a rounding out from the angelica root giving some forest floor depth. Then the top citrus makes an appearance and by the sweetness I suspect some orange peel is included. Then the middle gives a spicy floral tone with the heather and the coriander enlivened with the cassia bark giving a lovely fullness of warmed spice. It reminds me of my first taste - the understatement of the juniper and the sparkling citrus with a spicy single middle finger giving you the bird! Traditional but with a velvet glove softness, like granny spanking you with a cushion.
The addition of tonic underscores the juniper - think of a walk in a damp wooded park with the florals chasing you. A slice of lemon just making this a perfect pour to enjoy when you're in a classic G&T mood.
The quality grain spirit and its rounded smoothness is a perfect canvas, giving just enough heat without any real burn. overall, this was a pleasure end to end. In fact, to continue with Mr Carroll: “Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” But, in our case we're going to pour another and maybe fall into a continuous loop.
How else to use Edinburgh Gin - well, it is traditional enough to use in any classic cocktail - be it a (stirred) Martini, or a Pink Lady:
Double Measure of Edinburgh Gin (Oh, alright then make it a triple)
Tablespoon of Grenadine
One egg white
Add to a shaker over ice and shake your money-maker to you feel the mixture stiffen - you'll hear it too - then strain into a champagne saucer or cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime peel knot and a cocktail cherry. Camp and delicious!
The bus is being roared into life and it's time to leave. A long journey ahead as we are about to go island hopping to get a handle on the avalanche of gins pouring out of the Scottish Islands. Don't they have anything else do do? - probably not!