0 comments13 AugustBilly Hamilton
Friends of ours recently bid at a charity auction and won a “Gin Making Experience” for six people at Edinburgh Gin . They kindly asked me and the hotelier to join them along with another equally thirsty couple. Nestled beneath the stairs at 1a Rutland Place, the venue was familiar. Yes, all of us had in fact stumbled up or down these steps in our student days when years back it led to a late night club called L’attache frequented by international rugby players . In these days sportsmen drank hard and played hard.
A sharp young woman dressed a la Robin Wright from House of Cards welcomed us professionally into the darkly lit visitor rooms and ushered us into one of the tasting vaults. We were introduced to a large friendly guy and expectantly took a perch on the leather banquette seating; spread before us were little glass phials of botanicals, herbs and spices. The big chap sat in front of a mini copper stil gently bubbling away. I felt like I was part of a naughty science experiment. As a nice touch and to break the ice a glorious tray of Edinburgh Gin and tonics was placed on the table. The distiller guy then encouraged us to start smelling the contents of the phials “go with what your feel” he encouraged.
Our aim was to make our own “bespoke gin” a one off custom gin with our very own personalised label. My nose was instantly drawn to the mysterious allure of the spiced botanicals. After considered deliberation, I chose juniper, coriander and angelica. The hotelier went with orris root, bitter almond and rose petals. Of course it wasn’t a competition to see who would make the tastiest gin but it was. By this point I could read the minds of the assembled party, successful people with ambition and an urge to win. To add to the tension we had to don our brand manager hats and come up with name for our very own gin. Not to miss a chance of self promotion the hotelier decided upon an aptly named ‘Buccleuch Spice’ gin and mine for obvious reasons was named ‘The Sophisticat’
Whilst our concoctions were being distilled we were whisked off by the impeccably styled tour guide into the tasteful exhibition area. She competently guided us through the fascinating story of gin and we gasped oh so innocently as she explained how a print by Hogarth had portrayed ‘gin lane’ in London in such detail. It almost looked like a scene from one of our recent birthday parties.
The website promises ‘sneak peeks at what we usually keep hidden from watchful eyes’ and sure enough we were privy to a bunch of students from Heriot Watt University all scribbling hurriedly with little notepads working on a new ‘secret’ gin recipe. “What can you smell?” they enquired.
None of us guessed right and a few weeks later the ‘secret’ formula was revealed. David, the master distiller and the team had been exploring the Scottish coastline in search of the perfect indigenous ingredients for a distinctively Scottish seaside flavour. After extensive experimentation, they settled on a combination of seaweed, scurvy grass and ground ivy to lend the gin a slightly sweet yet refreshingly minerally taste apparently perfect for mixing into G&Ts on long, hot afternoons or creating summer Seaside Martinis.
To complete our most interesting and enlightening tour, we were all presented with a large and satisfying bottle of our own recipe gin complete with personalised label. We were then treated to the second part of the auction prize. Lunch at The Kyloe Grill, just a short walk around the corner on Rutland Place. A wonderful day spent with good friends.
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