Dunnet Bay Distillery



History - Dunnet Bay Distillery was launched by in 2014 by husband and wife team, Martin and Claire Murray, along with their George their much loved family dog. This couple did not just decided to make Gin on a whim, they are are both trained and qualified, studying brewing and distilling when the stayed in Edinburgh. This had always been their dream to build a distillery in their hometown of Caithness, making Dunnet Bay one of Britain’s most northerly mainland distilleries. A visit by Royal Highness the Prince of Wales gave the distillery great PR when he visited the distillery in 2014 just after it had opened.

The Gin – After 55 experiments by Martin & Claire they launched Rock Rose Gin as their first product. Sold in its distinctive ceramic bottle, the Gin is made up of 18 botanicals, of which 5 are grown locally in Caithness. You should also keep your eyes peeled for their seasonal editions which use some pretty unique botanicals to achieve the flavour profile they are looking for including spruce tips from a Christmas tree for their festive gin edition last year. As well as a Gin they also have a Vodka called Holy Grass. Holy Grass (known as bisongrass in Poland) is grown locally on the banks of the River Thurso and adds a floral and grassy character to the vodka.

Favourite tipple – I like all the seasonal editions they release but i am actually just a big fan of the standard Rock Rose Gin. Scottish Gins are now they envy of the spirit world and Rock Rose is up there with the best of them. It works really well in a G&T and also may classic Gin cocktails.

Geek alert - Juniper is the main botanical in Gin, it is grown in many places all over the world such as ??, Most Scottish Gin makers will import their Juniper and this is what Dunnet Bay did from Bulgaria but this year they have joined up with Caithness Biodiversity Group, and Highland Council, who have been carrying out research and recording the location and health of juniper plants on Dunnet Head. They have been doing this for three years to try and make sure their Juniper comes from Scotland and more importantly from their location.

Why Visit? – It is rather far away from the major cities but if you are even anywhere near here them you have to make the effort to pop along and visit the distillery. As soon as you come here you instantly get the feeling that it is ran and owned by a family who are passionate about what they do. For £6 you get a great hands on tour that lasts about 45 minutes and includes a sample or two. I would recommend booking ahead to make sure they can fit you in.

Interesting fact – George, the couples much loved dog, who sadly passed away a while back, was apparently heavily involved in every step of the development of the distillery and brand. He is even credited on the website as one of the founding partners in the company.

Follow me on twitter @andydrink or on Facebook