I’ll admit, I am pretty rubbish at getting out of my bed, but the thought of going foraging for the botanicals that make Hills & Harbour gin made the early start and three-hour drive a whole lot easier.
Crafty Distillery started distilling in spring 2017, at Newton Stewart, in the heart of Galloway. The setting couldn’t be any more idyllic or bountiful for two of the local botanicals used to make Hills & Harbour craft gin.
Graham Taylor, along with his father Billy and life-long friend Craig Rankin created this purpose-built distillery with a view using local tradesmen to craft a most welcoming environment to make and drink gin.
The whole ethos of Crafty is that they want to create the best possible spirits for anyone who enjoys a tipple. To achieve this aim, their Hills & Harbour Gin was developed over a 14-month period and countless recipes.
They also included 100 members of the public who got the chance to feedback on the final recipes to ensure the gin was hitting the right notes with everyone. Alongside the recipe development, they even make their own grain neutral spirit from scratch on site, as only a handful of Scottish gin producers do.
The distillery is in full sight, so you get to see where they mash the grain, which is then fermented in the next tank, before making its way to their modern stills.
This process doesn’t happen in a day, if you add up the full process from start to finish it takes around 14 days to make a single batch of Hills & Harbour Gin.
After the distillery tour and a sneaky wee H&H&T, we headed out foraging. Our first stop was to pick the Noble Fir needles in the local forest, so given our wonderful Scottish springtime, it was quite a muddy process. When the Gin Escapes start in the summer, customers will follow this well-beaten path, but then be treated to a cocktail made in situ, so you can sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery.
Back in the car we headed to the beach near Kirkcudbright to harvest some Bladdewrack seaweed, but the weather was against us getting to the preferred shore, although when the sun came out it gave me the chance to experience the stunning coastline. Again, customers will be treated to a cocktail that complements the surroundings, then back to the distillery.
Please check https://craftydistillery.com/gin_escape/ for more information. I have already decided that I’ll be taking my husband on a Gin Escape, it’s such an amazing way to experience a great gin. I cannot urge you enough to go to the distillery and even if you don’t have the time to do the full Gin Escape, it’s a beautiful place to visit and look out at the world around as you sit and drink a very tasty gin.
So, what does it taste like? It leads with juniper, then the citrusy notes come through along with tropical fruit and a hint of the seashore in its scent. It is an easy, drinkable gin, and can be savoured neat, like a good malt. The suggested serve is with a tonic of your choice and a slice of fresh mango, but the Crafty approach is such that each of us has different palates, so drink it how you like it – which I say yay to!
Hills & Harbour Gin – Galloway Forager Cocktail
This cocktail delivers a very refreshing and complex drink.
50ml of Hills & Harbour Gin
25ml grapefruit oleo saccharum (made with molasses sugar)
25ml elderflower cordial Shaken with a sprig of Nobile Fir.
Fill a glass tumbler with ice, add cocktail mix and top with a dash of soda.
To serve garnish with a fresh sprig of Noble Fir and a slice of fresh grapefruit to garnish.