In my last blog, I highlighted the huge surge in Scottish Gin Brands.
The rush to market hasn’t stopped yet. At the date of writing, there are interesting things happening which include
- New Scottish based distilleries in the pipeline (Dornoch and Kintyre, for example)
- ‘Scottish Brands’ which aren’t really made in Scotland now moving to establish distilling facilities in Scotland (Darnley’s for example)
- Modern day beer brewers moving into the gin market (Brew Dog’s Lone Wolf Gin)
So what is a Scottish Gin then? The answer is not that clear and it might shock you to know that some brands that many of us regard as absolutely Scottish are made outside Scotland.
As I said before, The Scottish Gin Society is not about naming and shaming. There are more than a handful of ‘Scottish Gins’ that you would be shocked to realise have never set foot in Scotland except when they arrive in cases of 6 to the box whilst being delivered by distributors. But you will have to do your own digging to find out.
I was shocked to recently learn that one of my very own favourite gins – with two varieties – was not Scottish. Sorry – but I really can’t tell you!
One that I can tell you about is Darnley’s View. Darnley’s have, until now positioned themselves as a Scottish Gin. But the gin was made in England and only bottled in Scotland. At least Darnley’s made no bones about that and happily disclosed it to their customers.
Now they are moving production to Scotland – influenced, no doubt, by the growing recognition of ‘Scottish Gin The Brand’ and the fact that, if you want to be part of it, you have to make the stuff in Scotland.
But the experts are still at odds over what is truly Scottish. Here’s a little overview to whet your appetite.
DISTILLED IN SCOTLAND – GRAIN TO BOTTLE IN SCOTLAND
Apparently, to be truly defined as a distiller you have to do it ‘GRAIN TO BOTTLE’. What this means is that you grow your grain in Scotland, make your own raw spirit in Scotland, forage and source all of your botanicals in Scotland – and then put it all together in your Scottish distillery.
And, guess what? It seems that only three gin brands actually pass this test!
DISTILLED IN SCOTLAND – RECTIFIED OR COMPOUNDED IN SCOTLAND
The vast bulk of Scottish Gins source at least some of their raw ingredients outside Scotland. The purists would say that this is not true distilling and so refer to it as rectification or compounding – which is another way for saying that someone else made your raw spirit outside Scotland and that you source your botanicals outside Scotland or further afield around the world.
But the copper stills are sitting on Scottish soil – so doesn’t that make them Scottish Distilleries?
Well, I think so but others would disagree. My view is that these are definitely Scottish Gins. If we narrow the definition down to ‘Grain To Bottle’ then we just don’t have a Scottish Gin Industry any more.
GINS MADE UNDER CONTRACT IN SCOTLAND
You would be surprised to learn just how many Scottish Gins are made under contract by other distillers. Currently there are 13 – yes thirteen!
You might be thinking you are drinking a lovely highland or island gin but you may be surprised to discover that it’s actually made somewhere in Perthshire.
But it’s still Scottish and many of these brands are in the process of setting up their own distillery operations.
GINS MADE UNDER CONTRACT IN ENGLAND
Let’s not beat about the bush here. This is by far the most controversial and shocking revelation. At last count, there were 10 – yes TEN – gins made in England that we widely think to be Scottish.
So if you really want to be drinking only Scottish Gin – look very carefully at the label before you it let it pass your mouth! And do some online sleuthing work.
AND, ONE FINAL WORD
Diageo are one of the world’s biggest producers of spirits. They have many famous gin brands which most of us are more than familiar with.
Gordon’s, Tanqueray and Jinzu are all made……guess where?
Right here in Scotland – Leven to be precise.
Happy Detective work, folks!