WITH the gin industry booming and summer on its way, there's never been a better time to sample some of Scotland's finest.

As the Scottish Gin Awards gears up for its third year, here's our pick of Scotland's Cool Gins.

Gin Bothy

Gin Bothy is based in the Angus Glens and takes inspiration from its surroundings. Botanicals including pine needles, heather and milk thistle are sourced locally and every bottle is numbered, batched and poured by hand.

Founder Kim Cameron says the gin is ‘all about reconnecting with our past.” “The principle of respect – for mountain, river and farm – is ingrained in our work. When I first launched Gin Bothy, it was about making the most of what the land had to offer.

“Today, our gins are appreciated by customers who, as they first put bottle to glass, are sealing their own connection with the Scottish glens.”

The pine needles and juniper create a fresh forest feel and an initial orange sweetness gives way to an earthy juniper and pine heat.

Serve with a wedge of orange and handful of ice.

£36 for 70cl (41%)


Golf Gin, Eden Mill

Eden Mill is a rising star in Scotland’s gin industry, scooping Gin of the Year last year for their Original Gin at the Scottish Gin Awards, as well as Cask Gin of the Year and London Dry Gin of the Year.

The company launched in 2012, starting with a small whisky brewery before moving into gin production, becoming Scotland’s first single site brewery and distillery.

Golf Gin, which was created in 2018, pays homage to the spirit of golf in Scotland and sources botanicals including gorse and seaweed from golf courses in St Andrews and Edinburgh.

The botanicals combine pine, gorse flower and heather to create a tipple that has both floral and herbal notes, with a peppery finish.

On the nose, expect hints of juniper, pine, lavender and spruce trees.

Serve with tonic and a blackberry and mint garnish.

£30 for 50cl (42%)


Devil’s Staircase, Pixil Spirits Ltd

Behind Devil’s Staircase Gin is Pixel Spirits: a craft distillery set in the scenic grounds of the Loch Leven Hotel in North Ballachulish.

Founded by husband and wife team, Craig and Noru Innes, the distillery has been self-built from scratch, only relying on the help of friends and family to convert former farm buildings into the distillery and gin school.

The couple pride themselves on offering a hand-crafted, bespoke and personal service.

The gins are less than 80 bottles per batch and are bottled and labelled by hand, with each one individually numbered and signed by the master distiller.

Some of the botanicals, including all citrus peels, are dehydrated in house “to guarantee the freshest ingredients,” Noru says.

The gin has hints of citrus, warm cardamom, coriander and nutmeg.

Serve with orange wedges and cardamom pods

£39 for 70cl (42%)


Loch Ness, Loch Ness Spirits

Another husband and wife team are behind Loch Ness gin, Lorien and Kevin Cameron Ross.

The couple started their business in 2016 and use juniper and botanicals picked at their 500-year-old ancestral home on the shores of Loch Ness.

They also make use of water from the loch in the distillery and only make 2,000 bottles a year.

Their home has one of the last remaining native juniper crops in Britain, which the couple call their ‘black gold.’

Lorien said: “No one else uses juniper or water from Loch Ness and that’s really special.

“We believe that the loch’s depth and density hosts water that is full bodied and sophisticated in taste. It’s this ethos of natural quality that makes our products taste as pure, refined and original as they do.”

The gin has an initial herbaceous hit, which develops into juniper waves and a hint of orange citrus.

It’s a classic, smooth tipple and is stocked in Harvey Nichols.

Serve with a slice of kiwi.

£45 for 70cl (43.3%)


AK Gin

Arbikie Highland Estate is a family-owned working farm at Inverkeilor on the east coast of Angus. The Stirling family has been farming there for four generations. AK’s Gin is named after Alexander Kirkwood Stirling (hence AK), the father of brothers Iain, John and David Stirling, the distillery’s founders.

The farm has a “crop is king” ethos and water used in the distilling – a process that can be traced back to 1794 on the estate - is taken from an underground lagoon.

The spirit is created entirely on the estate using Viscount wheat grown in the Deil’s Knapp field. It’s distilled in copper stills and bottled in the distillery. Each bottle is also labelled and sealed on site.

The carefully selected botanicals weaved in give it earthy and spicy hints while local honey adds a sweet, subtle smoothness.

The gin has a definite butterscotch and vanilla aroma with woody, spicy notes.

Best served with tonic, a sprig of fresh thyme and orange zest.

It also works well with ginger ale.

£35 for 70cl (43%)


NB, NB distillery

NB gin is another gin made by a husband and wife team - Steve and Vivienne Muir - in North Berwick using a still which was custom built in London.

The couple started experimenting in their home kitchen a few years ago with old central heating pipes and tested hundreds of different botanicals with water before investing in their still.

The gin – which was voted best of its kind at the World Gin Awards in 2015 - is made from 100% British grain and eight botanicals – including lemon peel, grains of paradise, coriander seed, angelica root, cardamom and cassia bark.

Their custom-built premises, which opened last year, use solar panels to help power the distillation process, while rainwater is collected to run the distillation condensers.

The gin was chosen by the Royal family to be sampled at the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations and following Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle.

It has a zesty afternote and earthy, woody undertone, with a peppery finish. Well balanced and traditional with sparks of citrus and juniper. Works well in cocktails.

Serve with tonic and a slice of lime.

£32.50 for 70cl (42%)


Caorunn, Balmenach distillery

Caorunn (pronounced Ka-roon) is a small batch quadruple distilled gin crafted by Simon Buley in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park using natural water and 11 botanical ingredients.

The distillery was one of the first in Scotland to be licensed in the production of whisky in 1824 and has been operational for nearly three centuries.

Six botanicals are traditional and five are foraged locally, including rowan berry – the Gaelic name for which is Carounn – heather, coul blush apple and dandelion.

The rowan berry – used in Celtic medicines for generations – forms the ‘soul’ of the gin, with heather adding undertones with a nuance of honey and dandelion leaf lending a hint of sharpness.

The gin is floral at first with notes of heather and citrus, followed by juniper and leafy herbs and a pinch of pepper.

Serve with a slice of red apple

£29 for 70cl (41.8%)


Firkin, Gleann Mor Spirits

Independent bottler and retailer Gleann Mor Spirits Company has been bottling barrel aged gin since 2015 after turning their attention to the spirit saying “why should whisky have all the fun?”

Firkin American Oak – winner of the UK matured gins at the World Gin Awards in January this year - is a distinctive gin, rested in oak whisky casks for several weeks, giving the gin a golden hue and notes of toffee, caramel and vanilla infused into the spirit.

Ten botanicals include juniper, coriander, angelica roots, lemon peel, orange peel, liquorice and nutmeg.

Just 250 bottles are created in each single cask batch, and each one is individually filled, corked, sealed and labelled by hand.

The cask influence is quite pronounced, with caramel and toasted nuts on the nose, followed by coriander and angelica, with a peppery oak lingering.

Serve with a twist of orange peel and sprig of rosemary

£42.50 for 70cl (46%)


Harris gin, Isle of Harris distillery

Harris gin’s story begins in 2015 with founder Anderson Bakewell who wanted to create jobs for people on the island.

The gin is the only one to be made in the Outer Hebrides and uses sugar kelp harvested from local sea lochs.

The team worked with an ethnobotanist to analyse dozens of potential botanicals from the islands’ moors before turning to the sea.

Every part of the operation takes place on Harris, from distilling to bottling and shipping. The distillery continues Bakewell’s ethos of creating local jobs for local people and today employs 38 members of staff. Every order is handled on site at the distillery in Tarbert.

The gin was voted favourite by drinkers in the Scottish Gin Society survey this year.

Juniper, coriander, angelica root, orange peel and liquorice all play their part in the gin, but the sugar kelp marks out the spirit with subtle coastal notes.

The gin has a balance of bitter juniper and pine with sweet flavours of grapefruit and orange, and echoes of crushed coriander and a gentle pepper.

The award winning bottle has a label with flecks of copper leaf and sugar kelp and is ribbed and rippled to reflect the seas of Luskentyre.

Serve with a slice of red grapefruit

£37 for 70cl (45%)


Misty Isle, Isle of Skye distillers

Misty Isle is produced by brothers Thomas and Alistair Wilson, who were raised on Skye and gave up their days jobs more than three years ago to create the first gin distillery on the island – in the back garden of their mother’s house in late 2016.

Their gin is made using locally foraged juniper berries and water from the Storr loch, a mile from the Portree distillery.

The berries are then distilled in copper stills and infused with 11 botanicals – including orris root, liquorice, coriander, lemon peel, cassis bark, grains of paradise – and a secret botanical from the island.

The gin was named Distilled Gin of the Year last year at the Scottish Gin Awards.

Each bottle is numbered and handsigned by Alistair or Thomas.

Cassia gives it a spicy start, with lemon and orris developing in the background, with hints of orange peel and juniper warmth.

Serve with fresh orange peel or with ginger ale and root ginger

£34 for 70cl (41.5%)


Granite North

Granite North takes its name from the rock associated with the north east of Scotland and is inspired by the mountainous scenery.

Founder Sandy Matheson came up with the idea to create his own gin while out climbing Braeriach in the heart of the Cairngorms. Legend has it that the native Highlanders took to the hills with mobile stills to make more than just illicit whisky. Nearly 300 years ago, the mountainous landscape was rich in botanicals found in modern gin – junipers, pine needles, heather and thistles.

The gin is infused with Grand Fir needles and bay leaves, and the water used in distilling comes from the Cairngorm mountains.

The fresh, citrus gin is smooth enough to drink on its own, with an intense woody pine hit leading to cardamom warmth and a whack of citrus.

Serve with a curl of fresh grapefruit peel.

£39.95 for 70cl (41.9%)



Another husband and wife team are behind Badachro Distilery in a remote hamlet in the west coast of the Highlands.

Gordon and Vanessa Quinn married within 12 weeks of meeting in the Badachro Inn and, 20 years later, after giving up a corporate life which took them to Dubai and London, they now live where they met after following their dream.

Gordon completed formal training in distilling and went on work experience in a Perthshire distillery.

Meanwhile, Vanessa studied botanicals and Badachro Distillery, which opened in June 2017, was born.

The gin is distilled in a copper still – named Delilah – and combines notes of rose hip, lavender and gorse blossom with coriander and wild myrtle.

A floral gin with herb undertones. Fresh blossom notes with lavender and iris developing, peppery juniper and thyme notes.

The wild myrtle gives it an authentically Highland taste.

Serve with a slice of lime

£36.95 for 70cl (42.2%)


GoodWill gin, GlenWyvis distillery

GlenWyvis founder John McKenzie created Scotland's only community-funded gin with the launch of an open share offer in 2016.

The last whisky distillery closed in 1926 and he wanted to revive Dingwall's lost distilling tradition.

A total of 3,000 people invested in the distillery and the team is inspired by the surrounding landscape, which it wants to preserve, using wind, hydro, solar and biomass energies to power the operations.

GoodWill gin - which scooped a bronze award in the UK classic gin category at this year's World Gin Awards - was launched in 2018.

The gin is created using a selection of nine botanicals, with particular attention paid to the locally sourced hawthorn berries handpicked from a neighbouring farm.

The botanicals are soaked in neutral spirit for 24 hours before being distilled, resulting in an expression that balances delicate fruit with classic robust juniper.

An oakey juniper hits the nose, followed by floral notes and citrus tones. Coriander and cinnamon come through in the tasting, with an orris root spice and creamy almond.

Serve with an orange wedge

£36.99 for 70cl (40%)


Wild Island, Langley distillery

Wild Island Botanics Gin celebrates the beauty and unique character of the Isle of Colonsay.

The distillery uses six hand foraged botanicals - lemon balm, wild water mint, meadowsweet, sea buckthorn, heather flowers and bog myrtle - growing wild on the island.

A further 10 classics add to the base - including coriander seeds, sweet Mediterranean lemon peel, orange peel, liquorice, cinnamon bark, angelica root, orris root, cassia bark and nutmeg.

The gin - gold medal winner in the contemporary gin class at the 2017 International Wines and Spirits competition - has an initial citrus hit with floral undertones from the heather. Sweet notes are discernable from the meadowsweet and a hint of tartness from the sea buckthorn in this coastal tipple.

Serve with a sprig of mint and twist of lemon

£38.95 for 70cl (43.7%)


Lind & Lime, Port of Leith distillery

Lind & Lime takes its inspiration from Leith's proud trading history and Edinburgh-born Dr James Lind, surgeon on HMS Salisbury, a ship on which he conducted the first clinical trials into prevention of scurvy in the 1700s.

In the trials, he noted that the scurvy patients eating citrus fruits were showing good signs. Hence the addition of lime to the gin.

The bottle is shaped like a wine bottle – a nod to the vast quantities of wine which were shipped from the port to France, before being surpassed by whisky.

Founded by Patrick Fletcher and Ian Stirling, who grew up in Edinburgh and dreamt of making their own malt whisky, the distillery has a couple of years before it starts producing whisky so the team are concentrating on creating a gin "forged entirely from the talent, heritage and industry of Edinburgh and its historic distilling district of Leith."

A base spirit with 97% abv is distilled with seven botanicals, including juniper, pink peppercorns and lime.

A crisp and fresh aroma gives way to a bright citrus hit on tasting, balanced with the spiciness of the peppercorns and juniper, with a hint of cardamom.

Serve with a slice of lime and a couple of pink peppercorns

£35 for 70cl (44%)