What is Gin?
While gin has traditionally been known as the national drink of England, the Scots are quickly giving the old dog a run for its money. Scotland is an already well-established spirit specialist and is where some of the best whiskey in the world comes from. We have turned that expertise and our clean water into distilling gin.
What makes gin different from other clear distilled spirits is that it is flavoured with juniper berries. These days, gin is flavoured with fruits, nuts, artificial flavours and other botanicals. The sheer choice for gin drinkers is jaw-dropping.
We've broken the guide into a couple of categories.
- The East
- The West
- The South
- The North
Best Gin Distillery From Edinburgh
'Edinburgh Gin' is a term that sparks interest in gin-lovers from across the globe. Although there is a distillery with the same name we are going to be talking about the best gin distilleries from Edinburgh that are small, growing brands of exceptional gin you should check out.
We have done a lot (of rather enjoyable) of research into this topic and have come to the conclusions below.
(1a Rutland Place, Edinburgh EH1 2AD)
The Edinburgh Gin Distillery and Tour company are certainly the largest and most well-known gin company in Edinburgh. They are firmly on the map for tourism to Scotland.
They currently have three distilleries in the city, as well as a full Edinburgh Gin Experience found on the corner of Rutland Place.
Other than the fully fledge tours, tasting guides and tourist destination, Edinburgh gin has an eye-watering selection of flavoured, gins, strengths, gift sets and merchandise.... and we've yet to find one that isn't fantastic. A personal favourite is the Rhubarb gin which usually does the rounds in Co-op during the Christmas/ festive period.
The most recently we tried was the 'Old Tom'. It was a limited edition run of unique flavours - which were strangely sweet, spicy and piney. I personally loved the gin with a tonic and citrus - or a tiny splash of ginger ale.
The Holyrood Distillery
(19 St Leonard's Lane, Edinburgh. EH8 9SH)
If you're visiting Edinburgh for the day, then there is a good chance you will head towards Arthurs Seat. A little walk up from the foot of the hill is the Holyrood Distillery.
The founders, after years of experience in the Scottish Whiskey industry, founded the Holyrood Distillery to represent modern-day Edinburgh and all of its contrasts
Other than being the producers of one or two of the best gins in Edinburgh, the distillery is open for tours, and offer a wide range of drinks made on-site (including beer, cider and whiskey).
You' be happy to know that there is an outdoor seating area so if it is a sunny day, this place is one of the finest places to enjoy a gin in the sun.
(1 Summerhall Summerhall Distillery, Edinburgh EH9 1PL))
On an Edinburgh summer's day, there is no better place than the Meadows to sit out with friends and enjoy the sun. Across the road is Summerhall which is home to Pickering's Gin Distillery.
Pickering's gin was established in 2013 by two engineers, Matt and Marcus. When the distillery was built (by hand), it was Edinburgh's first exclusive gin distillery (for over 150 years) and has produced gin with an award-winning steak ever since.
The original 1947 recipe for the Edinburgh-based Gin was passed down from a late friend; the rest is history.... and what a bloody fantastic gin it is.
These days pickings offer a very wide range of flavours, strengths, gift sets and tours.
56 North Gin (South Loch Gin)
(2 W Crosscauseway, Edinburgh EH8 9JP)
I first visited the Edinburgh-based 56 North Gin Distillery a long time ago. This was pre-covid and we came across it on a long walk. The venue may seem just like a swanky gin bar near the city's university, but it is also an actively working distillery.
There is an enormous selection of gin and garnish on offer and all of the staff were very well equipped to answer any questions we had - even giving us off-menu suggestions for gin/ mixer combos.
The own-brand gin is called 'South Loch Gin' and can be purchased online.
Although NB gin are not based in the city of Edinburgh itself, they are based in North Berwick, which is close enough for us.
The gin distillery was launched in 2013 after a year of testing in a home kitchen, where husband and wide set out to make the 'perfect gin'.
Fast forward and NB gin is one of the largest gin distillers in Scotland. They produce a wide range of botanical flavours and strengths and can be found in shops, on Amazon and other online outlets.
Absolutely worth a trip out to North Berwick to see them.
(126 Greenbank Road, Edinburgh EH10 5RN)
We had recently come across 'Precision Spirits' while researching this post, and we were massively impressed by the brand.
The company was set up by two chemical engineers (Luke & Guy) who have a passion for breaking down boundaries and creating their own lane. This really comes through in their design work.
They have used their scientific minds to throw out pointless and stale traditions, to produce a cutting-edge gin with huge flavours and personality.
The Edinburgh-based gin distillery seems to operate largely online and has a few different flavours: LDN Dry Gin, Wild Berries, Citrus and two gin spritzers (which are INSALEYL good).
Best From The East
The east here is lowlands east - so anything from Perth, down to Edinburgh (which has its own section). This includes fife and Dundee which in themselves have more than enough distilleries to go around!
Lundin Distilling - Gorse Gin
Before writing this post, I had not heard of Lundin Distilling, but I am glad I have.
The story of the gin distillery in Fife starts (as many stories do - their words) in the pub - the Railway Inn. Iain, the head distiller, was inspired to infuse gin with gorse blossom which surrounded the Lundin Golf Course.
The flagship, Gorse gin, and the 'Ripple' (made with Raspberries) started a run of awards and accolades.
Back in the day, when I visited the distillery Eden Mill was an unknown brand outside of St Andrews, now it is a household name across the UK.
The distillery is based just outside of St Andrews, In fife, and has grown exponentially since it began. Not only are they sponsoring Scottish rugby, but they are now stocked in bars, shops and all over the place.
The gin that stood out to me was a 'Golf' gin which was flavoured using mint (I believe). It was a limited-edition gin and I still remember it today.
As gins go, the standard Eden Mill gin is one of the finest produced in Scotland.
Best Gin From Glasgow
Glasgow is known as a drinking city - but not a city known for gin. There are some gin distilleries in Glasgow that are well worth your time if you're in the city, or looking to purchase some amazing gin online.
The distillery itself was launched in 2014 (in Aviemore) after a 2-year mission to develop the first gin to be produced using 100% Scottish botanicals.
After the distilleries relocation to the legendary Barras Market in Glasgow, the small team continued to refine their gin, the unique Scottish flavours and attention to the gin-making process.
The Scottish distillery offers a range of gins and gin tours (which they refer to as going to 'gin school'). Here you may learn how to produce, flavour, and taste gin of all kinds!
Definitely something to look out for while you're in the city.
Glaswegin wins our award for the most innovative bottle design.
The Distillery itself is in the heart of Glasgow, Glaswegin is a small batch artisan gin producer who was awarded 'Scotlands Best London Dry Gin' at the World Gin Awards in 2021 - that is a big deal.
The gin is best served with a 'fuss-free' tonic or a classic garnish - which really tells you that the producers are very confident in their smooth dry gin.
Of all the gins we have seen, this gin has the 'wow' factor that makes a gift a gift.
The rugged wind and sea-swept west lower highlands and islands have some of the best whiskey and gin distilleries on earth. I don't think we need to say much more than that.
The south of Scotland is often referred to as 'the borders'. Sometimes treated with suspicion but those green rolling hills are as Scottish as the heathered highlands. This was a traditionally industrial area and many of the old wool mills and factories have made way for some of the finest gin distilleries in Scotland.
Crafty Distillery, Hills&Harbour Gin
(Dumfries and Galloway)
Alongside being the most beautiful gin's on the list, Hills & Harbour gin by Crafty Distillery is by far the smoothest, most delicious we have tasted.
All of the drinks produced by Crafty Distillery are heavily awarded and packaged in the most innovative way we have seen yet (eco-friendly too).
The gin itself is smooth, elegant, sophisticated and delicate; with flavours of fir needles, bladderwrack seaweed and juniper, the gin makes the most of the Scottish hills and sea (hence the name). The flavours are a brilliant mix of savoury pine and salty shore, with high notes of tropical fruit sherbet and spicy citrus.
Genuinely extremely delicious gin!
The gin is also produced using local wheat and water which is fermented for 7 days. While the process takes more time, energy and money, the finished product provides maximum character and a true 'craft' experience.
Hands down - one of the best gins we have ever tried. Really love it.
Scotland's Northern shores are littered with distilleries; mainly for whiskey, but these days with gin. The gin distilleries in Scotland aren't just plentiful, but stunning!
Dunnet Bay Distillery, Rose Rock Gin
The Dunnet Bay Distillery is situated in Thurso, which is one of the most popular destinations for travellers moving along the North Coast 500. So, if you're in the area, then why not stop by the Distillery and try some of their Rose Rock Scottish Gin?
The Distillery offers a selection of very highly regarded gins (which are littered with awards).
I was gifted a bottle of Rose Rock a while ago and I remember the heavy traditional craft bottle and the floral fruitiness of the gin itself.
Very lovely and well worth the awards.
Situated at the very tip of the Cairngorms national park is the Balmenach Distillery; home to Caorunn Gin.
Caorunn gin is one of the most popular Scottish gins that can be found in supermarkets around the UK. It is produced in small batches using locally foraged botanicals.
The flavour of the gin is floral citrus notes with a refreshingly crisp finish. The award-winning gin is best paired with a slice of red apple and a chilled tonic.
You can find more about the gin here: www.caorunngin.com/
Kinrara Distillery - Highland Dry gin
The Kinrara Distillery (just south of) Aviemore, in the Cairngorms, won the 'Best Scottish Contemporary Gin' and the 2021 and 2022 World Gin awards. That is some achievement.
Other than being in a beautiful bottle, the gin's accolades speak volumes.
The flavours present are sharp juniper with suttle sweet notes of rosehips, orange peel and a base layer of pine and cardamon.
The layered notes of sweet and spicy have a long-lasting woodiness that keeps giving. Ideal with a simple tonic.
Find our more here: www.kinraradistillery.com/