Back in August 2014, husband and wife team, Martin and Claire Murray, founded Dunnet Bay Distillery at the spectacular bay of Dunnet in the far North of Scotland. The couple are passionate about handcrafting spirits that celebrate the heritage and provenance of their home county of Caithness and pride themselves on using local hand-foraged botanicals alongside exotic botanicals from around the world.
This was the inspiration behind their first product – Rock Rose Gin and to say it was an immediate success is something of an understatement. The first batch sold out in under 40 hours. The second batch sold out in under 24 hours on a waiting list. And over the months of September to November, the distillery sold all the gin it had forecasted for the entire year!
Rock Rose Gin continues to receive excellent reviews and numerous taste, business and design awards, with the distillery adding seasonal editions as well as Navy Strength and a Sloe Gin to their range.
And the popularity of the gins they produce grows year on year. In 2017, they moved into extended premises to double production and move to full-time bottling, along with the addition of a gift shop and visitor centre.
The visitor centre will be a popular attraction for tourists along the North Coast 500 and the company has signed international export agreements, so it looks like this business is set to continue to grow.
So, what is so special about Rock Rose Gin? They were the first gin to use Rhodiola rosea in gin. This wonderful botanical grows on the local cliffs, and it gives the gin a lovely earthy, Turkish delight flavour to build the unique taste profile on. On this, they layer citrus, spice, floral notes and sweetness from local berries to create a wonderfully balanced gin.
A proper gin with lots of juniper on the first sip. This gives way to the lovely floral notes of the rose root and the sweetness of the bilberries. The combination of lemon verbena and Bulgarian juniper give it a lemon sherbet-like finish.
The perfect serve for Rock Rose Gin has always been a source of great debate. Both Martin and Claire have their own opinion:
Rock Rose has a heady, floral aroma that leaves you longing for a taste. And when you taste it, you are hit by the complexity of the flavour: a perfect blend of sweetness, fruity-ness, floral notes and nice, gin-ny earthiness. Complex, yes, but wonderfully balanced. We love it with the ‘best of both’ perfect serve, the orange adds to the sweetness and toasted rosemary heightens the wonderful aroma. We’ve tasted this gin many times and are never surprised at its success – it’s a very, very pleasing Scottish Gin with a distinctive flavour that sets it apart.