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Whisky firm ready to toast a new gin

an area popularly linked to whisky is hoping to earn a good reputation for another drink now work has finished at the most northerly gin distillery on mainland Britain.

The final piece of equipment, a new still called Elizabeth, has been installed in the custom-built distillery at the Bay of Dunnet, Caithness.

Martin and Claire Murray, the founders of Dunnet Bay Distillers, have already tested the first batches of Rock Rose gin and full production will be under way in time for the launch of the micro distillery next week.

Mr Murray said: "Since the new still arrived, we have been making some trials and we look forward to launching Rock Rose at the end of August.

"We aim to make about 700 bottles in every batch, producing about 10,000 bottles a year. The first batch sold out by pre-orders within 48 hours and the second batch is expected to be released early next month."

Mr Murray works in the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen and has a master's degree in process engineering. He is now studying for a doctorate in brewing and distillation at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh.

Mrs Murray said: "Each year we will create a new vintage. Our Caithness botanicals are dependent on our climate, resulting in a truly hand crafted gin that will change year on year, but is still undeniably Rock Rose.

"Rock Rose gin was named after our first botanical forage along our Caithness cliffs, where local herbalist Brian Lamb introduced us to Rhodiola Rosea, a rose in the rocks. Our gin uses this Rock Rose and a blend of local and traditional botanicals."

Over the next three years, the company will receive support of £83,990 from jobs agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

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