Scotland may be most famous for whisky but Edinburgh has had a very long love affair with gin. Did you know that in the 1700s there were over 400 illegal stills in the city? Mother’s ruin indeed. Edinburgh’s love affair with gin runs right up to the present day; we now drink more gin in Edinburgh than anywhere else in the UK. With three home-grown gins made in the city and a plethora of specialist bars serving gin from across Scotland, Edinburgh is your perfect destination if you love gin as much as me!
Edinburgh Gin Bars
One Square at The Sheraton Hotel. Settle down for a G&T in the opulent surroundings of the One Square at the Sheraton Hotel. Try the house gin, it is especially made for One Square by Pickering’s distillery. Old Town/Lothian Road.
Heads & Tales. Located under the Rutland Hotel is a warren of a gin bar. Heads & Tales is also Home of Edinburgh Gin distillery, so you can’t not try their signature blend. The cocktails are pretty good too, Thyme for a Bru, made with Portobello Road gin is served in an Irn Bru can! Shandwick Place.
The Jolly Botanist. With over 70 gins to try and with a name like The Jolly Botanist, this a quintessential Edinburgh gin bar. Located handily close to Haymarket Station, they also serve up good food and a lively atmosphere, it gets especially busy on the weekends! Morrison Street.
Mothers. In the New Town is Mother’s Gin & Draft bar. With over 60 gins to try it might be hard to know where to start, luckily Mother’s do a gin tasting menu complete with nibbles. Gin & cheese? Heaven. Howe Street.
Bramble. Named after the most famous of all the gin cocktails, Bramble is a great place to hide away with a cocktail. With a speakeasy vibe, beds to lie on, DJs on the weekend, and knowledgeable bar staff, this is one of my favourite places to enjoy a gin in Edinburgh. Queen Street.
56 North. The prize for the biggest gin selection in Edinburgh must go to 56 North on Edinburgh’s Southside with over 180(!) gins. If you are complete gin beginner take a 56 North Gin Journey through 8 gins with premium mixers or try Gin & Cheese with 8 world cheeses matched to the gins. Both classes last up to 2 hours and cost £25. W Crosscauseway.
Finally, whilst not specialising in gin, my favourite bars which do a great G&T are the very cool Devil’s Advocate (Old Town), the quirky Roseleaf (Leith) and the cosy Bon Vivant (New Town & Stockbridge).
Gin made in Edinburgh
The P&T: Small batch, based on a long-held family secret recipe from 17th July 1947. Botanical flavours include liquorice, cinnamon, and sweet lavender.
Pickering’s gin is distilled in Edinburgh University’s old Vet School, now the multi-use arts venue Summerhall, located in Edinburgh’s southside. The distillery is actually tiny, fitting into the Old Animal Hospital dog kennels, hidden behind cages of gin. If you have toured a beer brewery before, you’d be surprised at how sleek and (to the uneducated viewer) simple gin production seems. Pickering’s have one 500 litre copper still called Gert and every Pickering’s is bottled and decorated by hand.
Visit Pickering’s Gin Distillery: By appointment, Monday-Friday at 2 & 4 pm and there are 3 tours on a Saturday afternoon. Tours last 45-50 minutes and cost £10 with gin samples. Book online. Try a P&T in the adjoining Royal Dick bar.
Try a EG&T: Small batch and one off experimental blends. Botanical flavours of Edinburgh Gin include coriander, oris root, heather & milk thistle. Try the rather fabulous navy proof Cannonball Gin which is potent at 57% ABV and made with szechuan pepper.
Edinburgh Gin Distillery is located underneath the Rutland Hotel at the West End and is joined in the evening by popular bar Heads & Tails (distillery in the day, gin bar at night). The distillery is home to two copper stills called Flora and Caledonia and tells the story of gin in Edinburgh, from the 1700s to the present day.
Visit: If you fancy a lesson in gin, tours of the distillery start at £10 per person (sample included) Why not become a gin distiller by making and bottling your own one off custom gin in a baby still? Book online.
Try a D&T: using premium spirit from northern France, Daffy’s instils botanical flavours of lebanese mint, angelica root, and lemon peel to make a 43.4% gin. Winner of the World’s Best London Dry Gin at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2015, this is an Edinburgh gin to watch out for!
Sadly you can’t tour their distillery (yet?) but there is a Daffy’s Gin website and watch out for Daffy’s bottles as they are especially lovely, being designed by Robert McGinnis; famous for his James Bond, Barbarella and Breakfast at Tiffanys film posters!
How many of these gins have you tried and which is your favourite?
Love From, Scotland x
Love From Scotland does not condone heavy gin drinking AT ALL. Drink plenty of water and remember TO EAT. If you have any suggestions to be included in this guide, give me a shout. Photo of Pickering’s Gin by Shutters and Letters. Photo of Edinburgh Gin courtesy of the distillery which I was invited to visit.