Edinburgh Gin Classic Review

Euan Harris | 22 Jan 2019

The bottle for this Edinburgh Gin review was purchased by From the Gin Shelf

Scotland produces around 70% of the UK’s gin and there’s now an array of premium craft gins from all over the country. While those from the Highlands and Islands are particularly in vogue (with good reason), one of the most popular Scottish gins of the revival is distilled in its capital city.
A long history with gin
In the 1700s, Edinburgh started its long association with gin. The Netherlands was a key trading partner for Scotland and as a result genever, was imported in vast quantities into the city’s port of Leith. It’s during this period that our love of gin began, with a ready supply of spices imported via the dock.

In the early 1800s, a new type of still was created by Edinburgh’s Robert Stein. His method of continuous distillation improved the quality greatly from the usual pot still method. (Stein’s still was improved upon by Coffey, allowing for even more eventually efficient production.)

In the early 1800s, a new type of still was created by Edinburgh’s Robert Stein. His method of continuous distillation improved the quality greatly from the usual pot still method.

Scottish distilleries were soon shipping large quantities of grain spirit to London via Leith, giving rise to the traditional London Dry, we now know and love. The decline in popularity of gin meant that there were no gin distilleries in Edinburgh by the 1970s.

But with gin’s resurgence, the city is now bustling with many great brands including Pickering’s, Electric Spirits Co., the recently launched Lind & Lime, and of course, Edinburgh Gin.

Read more:

The story of Edinburgh Gin
Spencerfield Spirit Co. was founded by Alex and Jane Nicol in 2005. The husband and wife team initially focussed on whisky, using Alex’s knowledge of the market from his time at Beefeater and Glenmorangie to build the brand.

While working for the latter, Alex discovered a gin recipe in Leith. It had always been his plan to create a gin made to the recipe, and in 2010 Edinburgh Gin was launched.

Inspired by its city’s gin-making heritage, Edinburgh Gin has been a huge player in the Scottish capital’s own gin renaissance. With the gin originally created at Langley Distillery, they launched their own distillery and visitor centre in 2014. (As a side note, it’s a great distillery to visit, with a range of tour options. There are two custom bottles proudly on display at From the Gin Shelf HQ from our own ‘Gin Making Tour’. Highly recommended!)

Edinburgh Gin Classic (as it’s now known) is where the Edinburgh Gin story began. The brand now has an extensive portfolio of gins, liqueuers and seasonal recipes with a view to continuous innovation.

Partnering with the city’s Heriot-Watt University, who run the world-renowned Master’s in Brewing and Distilling, Edinburgh Gin have a well established link with the local university. Indeed, many of their distillers were educated there, including head distiller David Wilkinson.

Following their flagship Classic gin (which is the subject of this review), several other products have followed, including a range of liqueurs, seasonal gins and their Cannonball and Seaside Gins. The latter was also made in conjunction with students from the Heriot-Watt degree.

Largely as a result of Edinburgh Gin’s incredible success, Spencerfield Spirit Company was sold to Ian Macleod Distillers in 2016.

BOTANICALS

juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, orange peel, lavender, mulberries, pine buds, lemongrass, cobnuts, lime peel, cassia bark, milk thistle, liquorice root

Edinburgh GIN RECOMMENDED SERVE

  1. Add plenty of ice to a wide-rimmed glass
  2. Pour 50ml (5cl) of Edinburgh Gin
  3. Top up with 50ml (5cl) of premium tonic water
  4. Twist the orange peel over the glass rim and mixture to release essence
  5. Garnish with the orange peel.

Edinburgh Gin is a stunning modern London Dry. Inspired by its city’s gin heritage it uses native botanicals as well as others from around the world.

How it’s made
Edinburgh Gin have two distilleries – the original west end location, which is also their visitor centre, and the Biscuit Factory in Leith, Edinburgh’s spiritual home of gin.

A mixture of maceration and vapour infusion techniques are utilised to create the delightful flavour profile of Edinburgh Gin. The process used depends on the suitability for each botanical.

With no single source we came across agreeing on the botanicals used, we double checked with head distiller David Wilkinson. He confirmed there are 14 botanicals used in Edinburgh Gin. These are juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, orange peel, lavender, mulberries, pine buds, lemongrass, cobnuts, lime peel, cassia bark, milk thistle, liquorice root. An intriguing mix of traditional and contemporary.

It’s well known it takes at least three years to create a legal Scotch whisky. But this Scottish spirit takes just three days!

On the first day the still is filled with grain neutral spirit. As with most Scottish gins, and indeed those from throughout the UK, Edinburgh Gin buy this in. Botanicals such as juniper, citrus peels and coriander seeds are then added and macerated overnight.

The following day the still is turned on. It’s at this point that vapour infusion is used on the lavender, pine buds and lemongrass, hanging these botanicals above the grain spirit to allow its vapours to pass over. The heads and tails of the distillate are then recycled.

On the final day, the gin is diluted to bottling strength, from around 80% ABV to 43%.

Edinburgh Gin to taste
To taste, Edinburgh Gin is a triumph! At 43% ABV, it’s certainly not the strongest London Dry you’ll find in today’s market, but on nosing the gin it’s surprising the intensity of the aromas.

With its signature botanicals listed as orange peel, mulberries, pine buds, lavender and lemongrass, the tasting notes aren’t too surprising – but sometimes surprises aren’t always best!

There’s a big juniper hit up front on the nose, with citrus not far behind. Subtle spice and soft floral notes lurk in the background.

On the palate, piney juniper gives way to the citrus of the orange peel and coriander, with subtle floral lavender complimenting the piney notes. The finish provides an extremely smooth and creamy mouthfeel. The citrus dies down to leave a warm finish with floral notes lingering delicately.

With tonic
With tonic we’d pair it with either Fever Tree Mediterranean or a classic Indian such as Franklin & Sons or Fever Tree. The distiller’s recommended garnish of orange peel is where we’d go too, enhancing the citrus in the gin. If you want something a little sweeter, a wedge works well too.

As a G&T, Edinburgh Gin is a seriously refreshing drink. Juniper and citrus remain the dominant flavours but the floral notes open up a bit with less of a pepperiness and heat, as you’d expect.