A gin lover's guide to Edinburgh
Edinburgh has played a large part in the history of British gin distilling over the years. The port of Leith, north of the city, had strong trading links with the Netherlands who would trade genever (an early form of gin) along with exotic spices for wool, coal and other Scottish produce.
Gin distilleries emerged around Leith docks, and by 1777 there were eight licensed distilleries in Edinburgh (and nearly 400 unlicensed stills). As time went on the equipment and techniques used to make gin developed and by the early 19th Century gin was incredibly popular. However, due to an issue with crop supply, Scottish distillers turned their attentions to whisky.
Gin fell out of favour with the public in the 20th Century and by the mid-1970s there were no gin distilleries left in Edinburgh. Fast forward a few decades and the gin industry is booming once again. From distillery tours to gin bars, here is a ‘gin-lover’s’ guide to Edinburgh.
One of the distillers leading the way in the gin revival is Edinburgh Gin who run two distilleries in the city. They run tours of their city centre distillery every day of the week. You will see the two working stills and hear about how they experiment with new recipes. With the option of adding a tutored-tasting, this is a great insight into Edinburgh’s leading gin distillery.
They even offer a gin making tour where you can make your very own gin, unique to you.
Summerhall Distillery at the Meadows lets you see how handcrafted gin is really made. While a smaller distillery, the Pickering’s tour is well worth a visit. A multi-award winning distiller, they have even specifically engineered a gin that tastes great at 30,000 feet (exclusively distilled for British Airways). This hour long tour includes some secrets to Pickering’s success as well as a sampling of the goods!
Old Curiosity Distillery
A twenty-minute drive from our Salisbury Green Hotel & Bistro, nestled at the foot of the Pentland Hills, lies the Secret Herb Garden, home to The Old Curiosity Distillery. All botanicals used in their gins are grown naturally, hand-picked, dried and added to the distilling process. The tour shows every single element of their process from plant to bottle. The range of unusual flavours (‘geranium and mallow’, ‘chamomile and cornflower’) and stunning setting should be enough to tempt you to add this to your list of distillery tours, this one is also family friendly and boasts a nice café.
One to watch out for
On the edge of Holyrood Park, this distillery is yet to open to the public (due to open summer 2019). Set up by a Canadian husband and wife team, the distillery will produce gin, liqueurs and whisky. The distillery will include a shop and a visitor centre where you can find out more about how their gin and whisky is distilled. This is sure to be a popular stop for gin and whisky lovers alike when it opens.
Fancy a tipple?
With the increase in gin distilleries across the city, there are now more bars in Edinburgh that offer a vast array of your favourite spirit! As well as bars being attached to the Edinburgh Gin (Heads and Tales) and Pickering’s (The Royal Dick, where gin is literally on tap) distilleries, we wanted to let you know about a few other watering holes where gin is a speciality.
This is a bar that knows its gin. They built their own micro distillery in early 2018 and now produce their own gins, liqueurs and other spirits on site. With one of the most comprehensive gin menus in Edinburgh, this is a good place to start. They offer gin masterclasses and can even make a bespoke batch of gin just for you. If you are visiting in August, they open up a Secret Gin Garden for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where they host events and tastings.
The Jolly Botanist
Located at Haymarket, this quirky bar and restaurant is certainly worth a visit with its seemingly endless list of gins and gin-based cocktails. The gin menu alone is seven pages long, you might want to give yourself some time to sample a few. The Jolly Botanist also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, so you can grab a bite to compliment your gin no matter what time of the day you visit.
With a name like Juniper, no gin lover will be disappointed to visit this modern and stylish bar in the heart of Edinburgh. With a wide range of gins, as well as other spirits and comprehensive cocktails, this bar is a gin lover’s dream. Juniper also boasts stunning views of Princes Street and the Gardens, ideal if you manage to grab a window seat.
Rest and relaxation
While on your quest for gin, you will want somewhere to kick back and relax during your visit which is why we would recommend the great value, 4-star Salisbury Green Hotel and Bistro. Located in peaceful landscaped grounds adjoining Holyrood Park (the home of Arthur’s Seat), it is in an ideal location for anyone with an interest in gin. You can continue sipping in the relaxed, well-stocked, hotel lounge which offers an array of gins including a selection from Edinburgh Gin and Pickering’s. Only a ten-minute walk to the Pickering’s Gin distillery and 15 minutes to 56 North, the hotel is well connected to the rest of the city via regular buses. For other non-gin related activities, the Royal Mile at the city centre is only a 20-minute walk.
Alternatively, KM Central is a city centre hotel that boasts modern and stylish rooms, perfect for relaxing after a day of sampling gin. With Princes Street and the Royal Mile a short walk away, this hotel is also in the perfect location for reaching our gin hotspots.
For more information on these hotels, and to book, click here.
As you can see, Edinburgh is certainly geared up for any gin enthusiast and along with our great-value accommodation in great locations, what are you waiting for?