On a sunny day, with the sound of bagpipes floating on the air and the majestic castle towering above us, I only had to close my eyes to imagine the exciting and vibrant visitors centre that Lara Williams described to me as we stood in the bright and airy building.
After launching the Stirling Gin Festival in 2014 to critical acclaim, Cameron and June decided to have a go themselves. Like many gins founded by husband and wife teams, the McCanns disagree as to how their Stirling Gin journey began. June insists it was to create a gin to share with friends whilst Cameron firmly believes it was always going to change their lives.
Regardless, the Stirling Spirits Co has gone from strength to strength, and their classic Stirling Gin is a finalist for London Dry Gin of the year for the second year in a row at the Scottish Gin Awards. It’s clear that such accolades haven’t gone to their heads – their key ingredient, wild Stirlingshire nettles, is still collected by hand.
The new visitor’s centre celebrates the first gin distilled in the City of Stirling and will allow for Stirling Gin and other new products will be distilled on-site in the original copper still (Wee Jinty) and her big sister (Big Jinty). It’s particularly exciting to hear that Lisa Matthews will begin working as Master Distiller full-time on completion of her MSc in Brewing and Distilling at Herriot-Watt University. The centre is expected to open to the public in Autumn of this year.
I was lucky enough to be shown around the new home of Stirling Spirits Co by Lara Williams, Marketing and Events Manager. Her passion and expertise brought to life the vision for the “Old Smiddy” that she painted for me. To be clear, the building is currently an empty shell, having served the community as a schoolhouse, temperance house and blacksmiths over the years.
The visitor’s centre is ideally located, just a 10 minute walk from the train station and a 5-minute walk from Stirling Castle. The centre will provide visitors with an immersive experience, from tours and tastings to making their own gins. The most exciting part of the venture is the wonderful garden that will be planted with herbs, citrus plants and wildflowers. This will allow visitors to interact with the botanicals as they enjoy their perfect serves in the sunshine and will also help support the local honey bees.
June and Cameron are keen to stress the benefits that the centre will bring to the city. Stirling has a booming tourism industry, welcoming over 4 million visitors to the city each year who spend an average of £55 per day. By providing a new and exciting attraction for visitors, it is hoped they can encourage more tourists to spend longer in Stirling, where only 54% of tourists stay overnight. The McCanns also expect to employ at least eight people.
Stirling Spirits Co is finalising three new spirits that will launch their “Folklore Collection”. This will include two liqueurs and a Battle Strength Gin celebrating Stirling’s rich history of Kings and Queens, legends and fairytales. I was lucky enough to sample the Green Lady Liqueurs, a berry and mint expression that was simultaneously indulgent and refreshing – we’re really looking forward to seeing the final products launch.
Stirling Gin Tasting Notes
They say: “a richly intoxicating blend of juniper, basil, angelica, orange, lemon and of course its key ingredient the wild Stirlingshire nettle, Stirling Gin provides a sensory experience that is like no other on the burgeoning gin scene”
We say: “a classic London Dry Gin with a fabulous twist. The addition of nettles, growing wild and plucked by hand, produces a smooth and herbaceous finish to balance the spicy notes of this gin. We’d happily drink it on the rocks!”
Perfect Serve: A measure of Stirling Gin in a hi-ball over ice, topped with premium Mediterranean tonic and garnished with orange zest and a fresh basil leaf.
Stirling Gin is available to purchase directly from their website, whilst also lists local stockists: https://stirlinggin.co.uk/shop/