Hamish Martin spent many years working successfully as a wine merchant, but following his heart, he began to pursue his lifelong passion for plants by returning to study and gaining a Herbology Diploma. In 2012, Hamish and his wife, Liberty took a big gamble and bought a derelict plot of land outside Edinburgh. With Hamish’s love of things that grow and Liberty’s passion for all things vintage, the overgrown lowlands have since become an award-winning herb nursery, local arts centre, shop and café. The Secret Herb Garden has over 600 naturally-grown and tendered varieties of herbs that have been used in the production of many wonderful natural products: candles, beer, wine, and herbal salts among them, as well as providing top Edinburgh restaurants with unique natural ingredients. So, with over 30 years experience in the drinks trade and a passion for creating unique tipples from glorious natural ingredients, it was only natural that Hamish began experimenting in distilling spirits. Beginning by using Apothecary Rose, an ancient ingredient in tinctures and tonics, he discovered a natural reaction that can only be explained by the magic of nature: a natural colour change and this was the magical beginning of Secret Garden Gin. Over time Hamish has developed many more concoctions of fine gin using hand-grown herbs. He then took to exploring a barn full of curious things. Among the odds and sods, and the bits and bobs, Old Curiosity Distillery was founded in 2017.
Their Apocathery Rose Gin is not only 100% natural, made using botanicals grown in their very own garden, but it also contains a chemical component that reacts with citric acid in tonic water to magically change colour.
The backbone for this gin is Juniper and Coriander where the seeds and berries are lightly crushed, Angelica root and also the more subtle flavours of the Angelica leaf are used in conjunction with Winter Savory, a plant not dissimilar to Rosemary but with more subtle notes.
These four botanicals offer a smooth, elegant and light base gin, to which is added freshly distilled Apothecary Rose. This is one of the most celebrated of all ancient roses and was believed to have been introduced to these shores by knights returning from the Crusades in the 12th or 13th Century. It has long been prized for its restorative powers and beautiful, bright pink petals.
With hints of Turkish delight and brown sugar on the palate and potpourri on the nose this is a gorgeous, smooth gin that is as refreshing as it is beautiful; just add tonic and watch it transform from shimmering gold to bright pink in honour of this noble rose’s petals.
Try it with fever tree light tonic water and a sprinkle of rose petals!
There is something very satisfying about the Secret Garden Gin bottles to hold, you feel transported back in time, they are a beautiful addition to the gin shelf too. But this about the gin. On the nose, it is unmistakably juniper, with floral hints. Sipped neat and you immediately experience the taste of Turkish delight, and not the Fry’s variety. The rose isn’t overly powerful, just simply delicious and expertly balanced, then on the addition of tonic, the magic happens. The peachy golden hue turns to a beautiful pink. This is just one of the amazing gins produced by the team at The Old Curiosity Distillery – if you get the opportunity, we urge you to go and visit the Distillery to experience the sights and smells of the flowers and botanicals they use in the garden, it is a true sensory adventure!