Andy Gemmell’s Drinks Cabinet
History: Inspired by the city’s gin making heritage, the Edinburgh Gin brand was launched back in 2010 by the Spencerfield Spirit Company. As the brand grew, the company wanted to give its loyal followers and the general public a more interactive way of understanding how their gin is created. In 2014 they opened a venue in the basement of what was formerly occupied by nightclub The One Below, at The Rutland Hotel. It combined a distillery, gin bar and a visitor centre. During the day the space is used as the gin experience and at night you can pop back in and enjoy a cocktail or two. The gin: As well as their main brand, Edinburgh Gin, the company also have different variations such as the Seaside Gin, Christmas Gin and Cannonball Gin, which was inspired by Edinburgh’s rich naval heritage of cannons and the famous one o’clock gun. There is also a range of gin liqueurs, which have been hugely popular additions to their range.
Favourite tipple: I like to taste my gin when I mix it, so the Cannonball Gin is my choice with its spicy notes and strong citrus profile; not to mention its strength of 57.2 per cent ABV, which makes sure it packs a punch. The high strength comes from the fact this is a “navy-strength gin”, which got its name from when sailors would test the alcohol strength by creating a mixture of gunpowder and spirit and lighting it. If it burned with a clear flame this was “proof” that the spirit was of the right strength. If it didn’t light it was below the required strength and would be rejected. To be classed as a navy gin, the strength must be 57 per cent ABV or higher.
Why visit? The fact that this is slap bang in the city centre is a massive plus to get more people to experience how gin is made. Combine that with its location in a working bar, and it’s even better. A wide range of services is on offer, including tours of the distillery, tastings and even getting to create your own gin.
They are open seven days a week, from 9.45am to 4.45pm, though I’m told it’s worth booking ahead to ensure availability. As well as this micro-distillery, the company also make their gin in a new distillery at a former biscuit factory in Leith. Built to increase the production of the gin, it is unfortunately not yet open to the public.
Interesting fact: The Spencerfield Spirit Company was set up by former marketing director of Glenmorangie, and whisky aficionado, Alex Nicol. He and his wife Jane have been dedicated to providing a quality niche alternative to the more conventional mainstream brands. While launching whiskies such as Pig Nose and Sheep Dip brands, they had also wanted to create a gin for Scotland’s capital. In 2010 this became a reality and Edinburgh Gin quickly became the gin of choice not only in Edinburgh but across the world. In 2016 the brand was sold to Ian Macleod Distillers, another Scottish-based whisky company. Follow me on Twitter @andydrink or on Facebook