So, spring has sprung (at least for now) and our thoughts are turning to long weekends and holidays. But no need to dig out the passport, Scotland was voted the “World’s most beautiful country” by RoughGuide readers and there no shortage of stunning places to visit here, whatever type of holiday you prefer.
But it’s not just mountains, lochs, golf or even whisky, Scotland boasts an impressive number of distilleries that make our other national drink – gin. Our recently published map of distilleries shows you just how much of an explosion there has been, but more importantly, we have highlighted all the distilleries that are open for tours and even gin schools.
To whet your appetite for Scottish gin tourism, we have picked a few of the distilleries that open their doors to let you see how their spirit is made.
Let’s start at the northern-most tip of the British Isles and n Unst, Shetland Isles. The Shetland Distillery Co produces Shetland Reel gin in small batches in its traditional copper still, using locally-sourced botanicals.
They advise visitors to book ahead to enjoy a tour and tasting in the specially designed tasting room, and if you’re travelling to the far north of Scotland, we recommend you pay the team a visit.
Now let’s head way down south to Dumfries and Galloway – home to producers of Hills & Harbour gin. The team at Crafty welcome visitors all week (Saturday and Sunday by appointment) and you can see how the team make their gin from grain to glass.
They have various tours on offer, including their Gin Escapes that are launching soon. With the Gin Escapes, not only do you get to sample the gin, the team take you foraging around the beautiful landscape that inspired the gin as well as a tour of the distillery.
If cities are more your thing, Glasgow isn’t just a vibrant and buzzing destination, it’s home to a few great gin distilleries.
Located in the east of the city, in the legendary Barrowlands, you’ll find The Hatchery home to Crossbill gin and the appropriately named still ‘Crosby’. Not only can you see the gin being made here, there’s also The Laboratory and Gin School where you can learn the art of making your own gin. What’s more, if you are quick there is a special offer on.
Staying in Glasgow, offers joint tours of their distillery (where the multi-award winning Maker Gin range is produced) and the Tennents Brewery. Corporate and group tours are welcome and you can even arrange for them to come to you for a bespoke tasting session!
Just a 50-minute train journey east to Scotland’s capital, if you’re visiting the historic city of Edinburgh, there are two distilleries to visit, with more opening their doors.
The Summerhall Distillery, where Pickering’s Gin is made is based in the unusual setting of the old Dick Vet Small Animal Hospital.
The folk at Pickering’s invite you to join them on a ‘gin jolly’, where you can tour the unique distillery and sample their range of gins in the on-site bar.
In the heart of Edinburgh’s west end, you’ll find the home of Edinburgh Gin and the West End Distillery and Visitor Centre. Here you can meet Flora and Caledonia, the copper stills that are used to experiment with the Edinburgh Gin recipes. Along with the tour, you get an insight into the wonderful history of gin and, of course, taste the various expressions they produce.
Leaving the cities behind and heading way out west, in Tarbert on the Isle of Harris you can visit the distillery where the now-famous Isle of Harris Gin is made and bottled. The ‘social distillery’ is open year-round (closed Sundays) and besides the breathtaking scenery surrounding it, the main treats of the visit are the warm, personal welcome, home baking and the award-winning gin.
Heading north again, if you’re near Inverness, make sure you schedule in a visit to Balmenach Distillery, where you can discover the craft behind Caorunn Gin. The distillery tour is topped off with a “tutored deconstructed nosing and tasting session”. Make sure you though, to avoid disappointment!
Paying a visit to St Andrews “The home of golf”, it is also the home of Eden Mill. Your tour of the historic distillery building in Guardbridge starts off with a G&T and ends with the tasting of 3 of their expressions. The 60-minute experience will ensure you leave with an in-depth knowledge of the production process.
Our final stop is on the famous North Cost 500, in Caithness, you’ll find the “wee distillery” that’s home to the Rock Rose Gin range. The tours take in the home-grown botanicals that give the gins their unique flavour, the production process and the all-important tasting. Thanks to The Auld Post Office B&B for this great picture.
There are many more distilleries you can visit all around Scotland, so if you’re day-tripping or touring around this beautiful country, make sure you check out our to see if you’ll be near any of the gin distilleries that open their doors. Enjoy immersing yourself in the gin production process – oh, and don’t forget to buy a bottle to take home!