Height of Arrows Gin range reviewed
The bottles of Height of Arrows Bright & Heavy provided by the brand for review. Original was purchased by From the Gin Shelf. All opinions are that of the author.
The Height of Arrows Range.
Founded in 2019, Holyrood Distillery is a modern distillery situated in the heart of Edinburgh. Taking inspiration from the brewing heritage of Scotland’s capital, the distillery base all their spirits around their ‘whisky mindset’. And in 2021 Holyrood Distillery launched Height of Arrows Gin, mirroring the simplicity of whisky and just three ingredients – juniper, beeswax and sea salt.
Inspired by whisky
Primarily whisky makers, Holyrood Distillery created Height of Arrows Gin with the simplicity of whisky in mind, where they work with just barley, water and yeast.
Mirroring this approach, the aim was to create a gin with a complex array of flavours by utlising a minimal number of ingredients. As a result, Height of Arrows was designed to celebrate gin’s ‘hero’ botanical – juniper.
Throughout the gin boom, I’ve observed brands trying to stand out by using unusual botanicals or creating flavoured expressions. While many of these were great additions to the category, it got to a point where many (including me) felt like the gin’s roots had been forgotten, and indeed, the requirement for the spirit to taste predominantly of juniper.
Height of Arrows is very much a stripped-back celebration of juniper. And their core expressions all use the same three ingredients, but in different ways, to create distinctly different juniper-forward gins.
The original expression was launched in 2021, followed by “Bright” and “Heavy” in 2022, with the latter being an Old Tom style.
Holyrood Distillery sits in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat. The ancient volcano provides breathtaking views of Edinburgh and it’s from here that Height of Arrows takes its name.
It’s been suggested that the name “Arthur’s Seat” is derived from the Gaelic “Àrd-Na-Said.” This translates to “height of arrows” as it was believed this was as high an archer could shoot an arrow.
The three flagship Height of Arrows expressions are all designed to showcase the complex flavour that juniper can bring. All are Distilled gins and have juniper, beeswax and sea salt as the botanicals. The only differences are the ratios of botanicals and for Heavy, the addition of sugar after distillation to create an Old Tom style gin.
Bright differs from Original by dialling up the botanical mass by using three times more juniper. It also has a punchier ABV, being bottled at 48% as opposed to the 43% of Original.
Either the day before or morning of the distillation, the three botanicals are added to the pot and macerated in 60% GNS. A multi-shot gin, the subsequent distillate is blended with GNS before being cut back to bottling strength.
Bright differs from Original by dialling up the botanical mass by using three times more juniper.
As was the aim, Height of Arrows Original is a delightful contemporary celebration of juniper.
Nose: there’s a big waft of the resinous pine, setting the tone for what’s to come.
Neat: smooth, piney juniper coasts the tongue with a hint of lemony citrus. A lingering peppery spice endures on the finish.
With tonic: Original makes for a lovely classic G&T, with a modern twist. Juniper is still undoubtedly the star of the show, but as you add more tonic, it opens up those zesty notes of lemon peel and grapefruit.
Height of Arrows Bright is very much the ‘big sister’ to Original. It has similar tasting notes but much more vibrant and… well… bright!
Nose: The higher ABV and increased botanical mass really jump out the glass, with big aromas of piney juniper and zesty citrus, the latter of which are more prominent than in Original.
Neat: lovely texture, clean and smooth. Juniper leads the race, but is closely joined by a rush of lemon zest, which lingers on the finish.
With tonic: Bright is a sensational Gin & Tonic. Much more citrus-forward than Original, but still with juniper very much at the party. Lovely fresh notes of grapefruit and lemon zest, which can be enhanced with a garnish of lemon peel, or complemented with a sprig or rosemary.
Height of Arrows Heavy is an Old Tom style, so has a touch of sweetener added, post-distillation – in this case sugar. It’s therefore a sweeter gin, but there are floral notes present here and a lot more spice.
Nose: Heavy has a warmer feel to it, with more spice notes and subtle florals, supporting the juniper.
Neat: as expected, it’s a sweeter gin. The florals on the nose carry through to the palate, with herbaceous notes on the finish and an enduring spice.
With tonic: with tonic, while still centred around juniper, the florals really open up while the spices die away to the background.
As a gin fanatic, it’s a pleasure to sit and taste a brand’s range side-by-side – and Height of Arrows is no exception. It was fascinating to taste blind, knowing that the botanical lineup in each of the gins was the same, but experiencing how different the three gins could be.
All three stand up on their own as good gins, with Bright being my favourite, followed by Heavy. The former really is exceptional and a much more rounded gin than the others in my opinion. Full of flavour, it’s punchy enough to work in a range of cocktails, while it passes the ‘G&T test’ with flying colours.
If you were to pick just one of these gins, I’d recommend Bright by some distance.