Can you remember a time when gin was a clear spirit? No longer. With the recent explosion of production on the craft gin scene, we’ve seen a big boom in creativity too.
The Scottish Gin Society have been looking at some of the Scottish Gin makers who are complementing their range of traditional gins with new expressions that look and taste subtly different.
Pink for the ladies?
Firstly, let’s look at the new Scottish pink gins. One for the ladies? Maybe. But with recent figures revealing that Pink Gin now accounts for 6% of all UK gin sales, it’s a popular craze that can’t be ignored. Take a look at our selection:
One of the original pink gins on the market, Gordon’s pink gin, made in Leven, Fife, launched last year and has been incredibly successful, no doubt inspiring many of the other gin producers to follow suit. It’s a simple concept: the original flavours of Gordon’s Gin are subtly enhanced with the addition of red fruits and this gives the spirit the pink hue. Sweeter than the original, the Gordon’s Pink looks like it’s here to stay.
Created at Strathleven Distillery in Dumbarton for the Square Peg Spirits Company, Square Peg Gin’s colour is completely natural and there are no artificial flavours. This small-batch Scottish Gin is infused with a selection of Scottish berries, predominantly Raspberries from Perthshire and Angus farms as well as more traditional botanicals such as juniper and orris root. The result is a more traditional juniper-led gin that is gently sweetened with the touch of natural berry flavour.
Another distillery disproving the doubters’ claims that pink gin is a flavoured spirit, and thus not a true gin is Beinn an Tuirc, where they are
creating the limited edition Kintyre Pink Gin. This expression will be 40% ABV, so clearly not a weaker alternative to gin! We can’t wait to try it and bring you our review.
Quick to jump on the pink gin craze, The Old Poison Distillery in Edinburgh produced their Selkie Blush Gin. Again, this is not a flavoured spirit, rather a variation on the original Selkie Gin, balanced with the sweetness of raspberries, cherries and strawberries and a tang of redcurrant. The blush and sweetness are all natural too – coming directly from the addition of the red fruit.
The team at Kinrara Distillery also produced a pink gin with a difference. Rather than using fruit for the colour and flavour, the juniper-led dry gin was infused with rosehip, rowan berries and hibiscus to create a lightly sweet, floral expression. Unfortunately, this limited edition was extremely popular and sold out, but we’re very much hoping they produce another batch next summer!
Launched in the summer and with a distinctly feminine look, the latest member of the Firkin Gin family, Firkin Rosie is made using 100% grain spirit combined with Strawberry, Rose Petals and Sweet Almond then blended with a selection of botanicals. Again, definitely a Firkin gin, albeit a much sweeter and pinker one.
Beyond the pink
Fact: not all coloured gins are even coloured. Well, at least they don’t start that way. The range of colour-changing gins from Old Curiosity Distillery start out as almost clear spirits, but with the addition of tonic, they ‘magically’ transform to pink, blue and violet.
This alchemy is the work of the distilling team, based at The Secret Herb Garden, where the founder, Hamish Martin’s love of herbs led to experimentation into flavours and colours and the birth of the range (currently 5 available) of naturally colour-changing gins. We love the limited edition geranium and mallow.
No strangers to experiments in flavours, McQueen Gin launched a limited edition product with Aldi, that started off blue but turned pink with the addition of tonic. Founder, Dale McQueen said their Forest Fruits expression added “a bit of theatre to gin o’clock” and the Aldi shoppers seemed to agree – the product didn’t stay long on the shelves.
Always distinctive, Boe Scottish Gin produce a colourful range of gin liqueurs, but Boe Violet Gin is definitely a gin. Their award-winning
London Dry gin is infused with violets to give it a delicate twist on the juniper flavour and a stunning violet colour. Excellent in a G&T or cocktail.
The latest release from the ever-experimental Glasgow Distillery is a cherry version of their multi-award winning Makar Gin. Made by soaking ripe cherries and a few pink peppercorns in a large vat of Makar Original Dry Gin, before pressing to release maximum flavour, this addition to the Makar family looks as good as it tastes.
For some, the newly-found experimental nature of gin-making is a distraction from traditional gin production methods. However, there can be no doubt that the new and ever-changing flavours, colours and serves we are seeing are making the world of gin a more lively and innovative place to be than ever before!
There are plenty more coloured variants on our favourite gins, and we’re pretty certain this market is going to grow and grow. But what’s the official stance on coloured, flavoured gins?
We think it’s very much up to the drinker. As long as the gin is still a gin (i.e. leading with juniper), then the intricacies of the flavour profile can always vary and if this produces a natural variation in the colour of the spirit, who can argue?
The Scottish Gin industry is flourishing and growing and there must be room for innovation and diversity to allow this to continue. But when is a gin not a gin? Well, that’s a debate we fully intend to conduct over the coming months…