You’ve Heard All About Our Whisky, Now It’s Time to Try Our Gin. Here in Scotland, it’s no secret that we’re loud and proud about our love of whisky.
But, did you know that gin also has a long and impressive past in Scotland spanning from the present day all the way back to the 1700s?
Today, there are around 300 Scottish gins made by over 100 different brands. In fact, the Scottish gin industry is so large that 70% of all gin produced in the UK is actually made here in Scotland.
With gin available in a wide variety of tastes and flavours, it’s fast becoming the drink of choice for many. If you’re a lover of all kinds of gin, or you’re just keen to try something new, then Scotland is the destination for you.
Join us as we explore some of Scotland’s must-try brands of gin, along with some of the best gin distilleries that offer unforgettable tours all across our spectacular country.
A Brief History of Gin in Scotland
Gin first became popular in the 1600s when the Dutch used it as a form of medicine to treat kidney and stomach problems. It arrived in Scotland in the 18th century when it was traded at the Port of Leith in Edinburgh.
Leith was already home to a booming whisky industry, and having a large number of skilled tradesmen in glass-making, coopering and warehousing in the area meant that gin had the perfect conditions to flourish from the get-go.
Fast forward to the 21st century and the Scottish gin industry continues to thrive.
After a legal case was won against HMRC in 2009, independent companies won the right to distil gin on a smaller scale rather than only being able to on an industrial scale. This is the main reason why you’ll find small craft gin distilleries dotted all over Scotland today.
Specialist Gin Bars have been established throughout the country. The expert bar staff will be happy to guide you, whether you're looking for a simple Gin and Tonic or a fancy cocktail.
Popular Scottish Gin Brands
Scotland is home to a number of iconic brands of gin and distilleries. Before you visit, it’s important to know that not all gin distilleries in Scotland offer guided tours around their premises.
But, don’t let that stop you from heading to one of Scotland’s many lively bars and trying out some different varieties of gin for yourself!
Looking for some recommendations? Here are a few of our top picks:
- NB Gin, North Berwick
- Crossbill Small Batch Highland Dry Gin, Glasgow
- Hendrick’s Gin, Ayrshire
- Misty Isle Gin, Isle of Skye
- Mikkelmas Gin, Orkney
- Gordon’s Gin, London (Distilled in Fife)
Best Gin Distilleries in Scotland (with Tours Available)
While you won’t be stuck for opportunities to taste some of Scotland’s most delicious drinks at bars and restaurants, nothing quite beats being able to immerse yourself in a distillery tour where you’ll be up close and personal with the production process.
Here are a handful of the top gin distilleries that you can visit on your next trip to Scotland:
Isle of Harris Distillery, Harris
Described as smooth, complex and refreshing, the Isle of Harris Distillery produces unique gin infused with sugar kelp.
The gin produced is luxuriously smooth and high-quality - perfect to either to sip on its own or in a classic Martini. Every drop of Isle of Harris gin is made in the small village of Tarbert on the inlet of Loch Fyne.
A tour of the Isle of Harris Distillery is guided by expert local staff, who are equipped to bring you closer to island life and deepen your appreciation of fine gin-making on the island.
You’re guaranteed to love this truly Outer Hebridean gin experience.
The Glasgow Distillery Co, Glasgow
Found in Glasgow’s metropolitan area, The Glasgow Distillery Co are producers of whisky, beer and gin. They’re one of Scotland's first licensed distillers and provide guided tours and gin tastings for the public.
The Glasgow Distillery Co are famed for their Makar gin, which is the first gin ever to be distilled in the City of Glasgow. Aiming to reflect their gin's craft and creativity, the name ‘Makar’ in Gaelic means poet or bard.
The four varieties of gin available include their award winning Makar Original Dry Gin, cask matured Makar Oak Aged Gin, cask matured Makar Mulberry Aged Gin and their traditional Makar Old Tom Gin.
Bruichladdich Distillery, Isle of Islay
Located on the southwestern tip of the remote Hebridean island of Islay, the Bruichladdich Distillery is home to four unique spirits, including single malt whiskies and gin.
Botanist Gin is created using 22 hand-collected botanicals and distilled in a traditional Lomond whisky still called "Ugly Betty".
During a tour of this magnificent Victorian distillery, you’ll learn all about the history, philosophy and how the famous Islay Botanist Gin is made. Of course, every tour ends with a gin (and single malt whisky) tasting session.
Strathearn Distillery, Perth
The Strathearn Distillery is described as Scotland’s Original Craft Spirits Distillery. Located in the heart of rural Perthshire, the distillery offers a variety of Scottish Gin experiences including gin making lessons and distillery tours.
Strathearn Distillery’s gin is handcrafted and produced only in small batches. This distillation and bottling process ensures the gin is very full bodied and balanced juniper led. The taste is described as smooth and sweet and then switches to a light peppery flavour.
Without a doubt, Strathearn’s gin is full of character!
Summerhall Distillery, Edinburgh
The famous Pickering’s Gin is distilled and produced in Summerhall Distillery near Edinburgh. Based on an original Bombay recipe from India, Pickering’s Gin has a proud history that dates back to 1947.
The gin's unique flavour comes from a combination of 9 different botanicals including Juniper, coriander, lemon, anise, cardamom and cloves.
From Summerhall Distillery you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. All year round Summerhall Distillery delivers gin tours where visitors are shown where the gin is distilled, filled, labelled, waxed, and shipped.
Eden Mill, St. Andrews
Based in Guardbridge about 3 miles northwest of St Andrews, Eden Mill is a specialist independent microbrewery and distillery.
Eden Mill Original Gin is St Andrews’ take on a classic London dry gin. Traditionally created by hand using copper pot stills, the gin at Eden Mill is produced by distillers with a desire to innovate and tingle the taste buds.
A unique tart berry taste coupled with citrus flavours that have been drawn from botanicals like lemon balm and citrus peel puts this gin on a very different level to most others. Eden Mill Distillery isn’t shy about delivering flavours that are guaranteed to dance on your tongue.
Explore Scotland’s Gin Map
To discover more Scottish gin distilleries and where you can find them, be sure to check out Scotland’s Gin Map from VisitScotland.
Before Your Visit
While you might not be able to travel to Scotland at the moment, you can still sample some of the best Scottish gin from the comfort of your own home!
Better yet, why not make a night of it by hosting a gin sampling evening on an online video call with a few friends? Once life returns to normal, you’ll be in a great spot to come and experience the real thing for yourself.
Most Scottish gins are available from your local supermarket or directly from the distillery’s website.
Take a Taste Test For Yourself
On your next visit to Scotland, you won’t be stuck for opportunities to taste some of the finest and most flavoursome Scottish gins around.
At Scottish Tours, it’s our job to showcase the very best of Scotland, and we’re proud to offer award-winning tours led by expert local tour guides.
Discover Scottish Tours today.