If you have yet to learn about the majesty of Scottish Gin, then you're in for a huge treat. It is a terribly kept secret that Scottish Gin's are some of the very best that the UK has to offer. One Scottish Distillery stood out to us and we needed to try it.
The Hills & Harbour Gin by Crafty Distillery is very highly awarded, so we knew we needed to give it a try and wrote a full review. So here goes.
(Ps: not an 'alcohol expert' by any means, but we're Scottish, so pretty much the same thing)
Who Is Crafty Distillery?
So, Crafty Distillery was founded by Graham Taylor in 2017 and very quickly gained a reputation for offering huge taste and outstanding quality alcohol. The passion was the 'craft' and from tasting the gin ourselves, you can really see the 'creative thinking' that make the gin so celebrated.
The distillery itself is set on a Galloway hillside and built by Graham's father, Billy. A highlight of the building is the sampling room, which has huge bay windows that look out over the rolling hills of southern Scotland.
The Crafty Distillery have a mission 'to create tasty and honest spirits for everyone who likes a tipple'. Which does the company a little bit of a disservice; this is more than just a tipple. They aspire to be 'crafty'; which is to say they live for new ideas that elevate them beyond mediocrity; thus creating a world-class spirit. In our mind, missions success.
Just check out some some of the awards the Crafty Distillery have won.
Scottish Gin Distillery of the Year 2020 - Scottish Gin Awards
Best Scottish London Dry Gin 2020 - World Gin Awards
Double Gold 2019 - San Francisco World Spirits Competition
Scottish Gin Destination of the Year 2018 - Scottish Gin Awards
And a few more.....
Our Hills & Harbour Gin Review
The Taste & Aroma:
I am a great lover of whiskey, so I am not shy of a neat spirit. I have to say I have never had a gin that I could easily enjoy on its own. Yes, even without tonic. Just some ice.
The scent of the Hills & Harbour gin is a great opener At first, there is a huge punch of juniper and a tingle from the alcohol. As the tingle dissipates the earthy, piney notes offer a baseline to a subtle high of robust spiced tropical fruit; I get a little bit of pineapple. The alcohol perfume is a complex layering of contrasting scents that are hard to identify individuals but work wonderfully together.
The description of the Hills & Harbour Gin refers to notes of Fir needles, Bladderwrack Seaweed, and Juniper with hints of forest fir, tropical fruits, spice and a subtle hint of the shore. They also use a rare local grain, which is fermented for 7 days. It is extra cost and energy, but the result speaks for itself.
The first thing that strikes me about the taste is how smooth the gin is. Gin can be quite harsh, but Hills and Harbour give room to allow all of the delicate flavours to reveal themselves.
After an initial sharpness of Juniper, the flavours flow into notes of sweet tropical fruit notes with a delicious baseline of deep grassy, forest earthiness. The earthy elements aren't too deep either, which leads me to believe the seaweed has given the base notes a sweetness. It took a fair few sips to really collect all of the elements but I can say the gin is certainly delicate, extremely well thought out and sophisticated.
Some people are going to read this with a gasp, but this is the only gin I think I could enjoy like I enjoy whiskey, with zero fuss, neat. The gin will speak for itself - and anything more than a very simple garnish will waste the gin (in my opinion). Crafty do have their suggestions for great recipes.
I really enjoyed the gin strong, with a splash of tonic. And with a squeeze of fresh orange.
I've been tempted to try many 'award-winning' things in the past, but I have always felt that the awards are nothing more than a great PR exercise. Or am I cynical?
I knew the gin was award-winning, but how could I know it was actually good? I took a second to read over the Crafty Distillery website and realised that there was a significant amount of attention to detail. From the wording to the website layout, and the packaging.
It was the bottle that sold me. It is unbelievably well thought out, designed to perfection and is bloody beautiful. It shows how much care and attention has gone into the company, and therefore is a reflection of how good the gin must be. So, we bought some right there.
The bottle is a beautiful blue with a striking design and colour scheme. The glass is frosted so has a nice soft touch. The design of the bottle opening is wide and ensures that it can be used as a vase or up-cycled easily. I feel as though the bottle design is almost soft, and careful. I feel calm when I pour myself a gin from the bottle.
The lid is made from 100% natural wood and cork and is designed with a perfect 25ml serve on top so you don't need to get fussy with measures. It also means the bottle is 100% recyclable and I will personally be keeping the lid as a measure for the future.
Would I recommend Hills & Harbour?
In a heartbeat. There isn't much more I need to say.
Thank you Crafty Distillery for the amazing experience. I will be back for some more!!