The city of Edinburgh and port of Leith have had an illustrious history of producing, importing and exporting gin that dates back to the first gin ‘craze’ of the 1700s. Dutch Genever flowed through Leith via The Netherlands, as did luxury spices and ingredients, so it’s no surprise that Edinburgh soon had a taste for juniper-based spirit. By 1777, alongside eight legitimate distilleries, there were almost 400 unregistered stills across the capital as the ‘gin craze’ took off. In the early 1800s, Scotsman Robert Stein developed the forerunner to Coffey’s now-famed column stills, allowing continuous production. This allowed distillers to move away from traditional pot stills and produce spirit more efficiently. Scottish distillers were soon exporting neutral grain spirit to London via Leith – and the modern London Dry style gin as we know it today was born.
The Spencerfield Spirit Company (the folks behind Sheep Dip and Pig’s Nose whiskies) introduced Edinburgh Gin in 2010. For the first few years they sourced gin made with Scottish grain and macerated their selection of Scottish botanicals in it. In 2014, they opened their own craft distillery in Edinburgh, allowing them to produce Edinburgh Gin under one roof. Following that, in 2016 they expanded their operations building a second distillery in a disused biscuit factory in Leith.
Head Distiller, David Wilkinson, leads the team in developing Edinburg’s family of contemporary gins. David progressed from whisky connoisseur, to achieving an MSc in Brewing and Distilling from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University. With his scientific background, David is an expert in modern gin distillation processes. He works closely with Finlay Nicol, fellow distiller and the Distillery Manager. In his earlier career as a professional chef, Finlay honed his skills in understanding the influence and importance of developing flavor. David and Finlay are supported by distillers Ruairidh Kemmett and Andy Colman, both seeking their specialist degree at Heriot-Watt.
Edinburgh’s Seaside Gin encapsulates a unique flavor profile of foraged ingredients from Scotland’s east coast. Seaside Gin was the first of the distillery’s collaborations with Heriot-Watt University’s Brewing & Distilling MSC. Together with David Wilkinson, four students from the program were selected to work on the project. They scoured an east coast shore near Edinburgh to select botanicals and, making use of some intriguing ingredients from the coast – seaweed, ground ivy, gorse flowers and scurvy grass (which sailors used to eat when suffering from scurvy for its precious Vitamin C) - they've created a superb gin capturing the essence of the seaside. The ingredients used in Edinburgh Seaside Gin differ quite a bit from their Classic Gin. For starters there are 9 botanicals in the Seaside recipe as opposed to 14. As well as the signature botanicals mentioned earlier (bladderwrack seaweed, scurvy grass and ground ivy), there are also the more traditional gin botanicals of juniper, coriander seeds, angelica root, orris root, cardamom and grains of paradise. David chose Italian juniper for the Seaside Gin, due to its piney and spicy character, as opposed to North Macedonian found in the Classic, which is sweeter in nature.
While the botanicals differ, Edinburgh Seaside follows a similar process to its Classic Gin. The distiller uses a mixture of maceration and vapor infusion. The six traditional botanicals are macerated in grain neutral spirit. The liquid is slowly heated and begins to evaporate, rising up through the still and passing through a botanical basket containing the foraged ‘seaside’ ingredients. As it travels through the botanical mix in the basket, it gently picks up the flavor before condensing back to liquid. The gin is cut back with water to bottling strength of 43%, the same as ABV as the Classic. Edinburgh Seaside Gin has a delightful floral aroma. This is a finely balanced gin with a fresh sweetness on the nose, soft salinity and herbaceous notes on the palate, and a clean finish.
SEASIDE GIN & TONIC
2oz Seaside Edinburgh Gin
4oz good quality tonic water
Add ice to a glass.
Pour the gin over ice and add tonic.
Garnish with thyme and a grapefruit twist (or lemon twist).
1oz Seaside Gin
2oz Watermelon Juice
1 Sprig Fresh Mint
1/3oz Lychee Liqueur or St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
2oz Cucumber Soda
Build in ice filled Collins glass. Combine all ingredients. Stir. Garnish with Fresh Mint.
1½ oz. Seaside Gin
½oz. Crème de Cassis
¾oz. fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1 each Lime Twist
Fill a rocks glass with ice. First add Crème de Cassis and fresh lime juice. Top with Simple Syrup, Gin and Club Soda. Garnish with Lime Twist.
COASTAL ORANGE BLOSSOM GIN COCKTAIL
2 oz gin
1 oz orange blossom water
2 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
4 oz unsweetened coconut water
Edible flowers or flower petals
Fill your cocktail shaker with ice.
Add the gin, orange blossom water, orange juice and coconut water. Give it a thorough shake and strain into an ice filled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wedge and/or edible flowers.