Disclosure: the bottle for this review of Mackintosh Gin gifted by the brand. Opinions entirely that of the author.

Mackintosh Gin

Launched in last 2018, I’ve followed the Mackintosh Gin story for the last 18 months or so. I was contacted by co-owner James prior to launch and kindly sent a lovely sample of their gin, complete with tonic and a packet of Haribo sweets!

That personal touch was a sign of things to come and the family-run business is one I can’t but wish every success to. It helps that their gin is absolutely beautiful! Read my review to learn all about this Scottish gin.

Story.

Community Spirit

Having followed Mackintosh Gin since their launch in 2018, there’s been a consistent theme around their brand – a sense of community. They’re a vibrant part of social media gin ‘scene’ and I’ve enjoyed engaging with them online, as well as at events. And their love of the community really shines through.

Like almost all gin brands, Mackintosh Gin was conceived because of owners James and Deborah’s love of gin. With 50 bottles and counting on their shelf, they embarked on their own journey to produce a gin that would rival their favourite brands.

Mackintosh Gin is very much a family affair. James and Deborah’s three daughters, Steph, Charlotte and Alexandra are a key part of the operation, having all been involved in the development of brand and ongoing business development. And you can really sense the pride in what they’ve built.

The logo takes inspiration from a Pictish love knot, found carved on a 9th century stone near the Angus home of owners James and Deborah, symbolising their love for each other.

Starting out, the family had had simple ambitions for Mackintosh Gin – to secure some listings in independent retailers, get stocked in some cocktail bars and exhibit at some of the well-known gin events. Having achieved these goals early on, they’re now looking at the medium to long-term goals of distribution to North America and having their own distillery and visitor experience. Adding to their range with the launch of a navy strength and Old Tom in 2020, they’re also expanding their product offering to appeal to new audiences as well as their growing tribe of fans.

Perhaps their biggest achievement to date was at the 2019 Scottish Gin Awards, where they finished runner-up in the London Dry category.

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Perfecting the recipe

To bring their dream to life, Mackintosh Gin chose to work with local Arbroath contract distiller, Distillutions. With an idea of the botanical mix they were looking for, Jim and Deborah used cold compounding to prototype their recipe – trialing the use of different variations over a few months, such as lime peel vs lime leaf, etc.

With a feeling that it was too earthy, they turned to Lewis at Distillutions who advised that there was a bit much angelica in the mix. After a trial run on a 10 litre still and a further tweak the Mackintosh London Dry Gin recipe as we now know it was perfected.

Mackintosh Gin bottle, Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water, and a gin and tonic.

The Process.

Botanicals

Mackintosh Gin uses a relatively traditional botanical mix, with a contemporary twist. Nine botanicals are used in total. The use of fresh grapefruit and elderflower offers a deviation from the standard botanicals you’d expect in a London Dry, and these are the ‘local’ ingredients in the gin.

The fresh grapefruit is bought locally on the morning of each distillation, while they forage the elderflower from just a couple of minutes’ walk from their home! These signature botanicals are joined by the more usual suspects of juniper, coriander seed, angelica, orris root, orange peel, lemon peel and lime peel.

Distillation

While the distillation is carried out at Ditillutions, James tells me they like to be closely involved in each batch, treating it “like a training session.” Distiller, Lewis Scothern, controls the process and the entire production from bottling and labelling is carried out on-site.

The gin is distilled in a 200 litre pot/column hybrid. Wheat spirit is bought in at 96.3%, before being reduced to 60%. The botanicals are all then added to the spirit for distillation and the entire process takes about 8 hours. Cut points are done entirely by aroma and taste, with the first cut for the hearts taking place at 85% and the second at 81%. The spirit is then rested for five days before diluting to a bottling strength of 42%

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BOTANICALS

Juniper, coriander seed, angelica, orris root, orange peel, lemon peel, lime peel, fresh grapefruit and elderflower.

RECOMMENDED SERVE

How to serve Mackintosh Gin

  1. Add plenty of ice to a glass
  2. Add 50ml of Mackintosh Gin
  3. Pour 100ml of Fever-Tree Mediterranian Refreshingly Light tonic water
  4. Garnish with a wedge of citrus fruit
  5. Stir gently and serve
Mackintosh Gin bottle, Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water, and a gin and tonic.
Mackintosh Gin perfect serve - gin and tonic, garnished with grapefruit wedge.

Tasting notes.

Neat

On the nose Mackintosh Gin is juniper-forward with subtle citrus and spice. There’s also a hint of that lovely locally-foraged elderflower too.

Juniper leads the way on the palate and is followed by a lovely balance of sweet citrus peels and floral notes from the elderflower. There’s an enduring warming spice on the finish with subtle notes of coriander seed and earthiness from the angelica.

Mackintosh Gin is extremely smooth and can easily be enjoyed neat over ice. As expected, it’s a very classic flavour profile, but takes on a contemporary twist with the subtle florals.

With tonic

Gin and tonic is my favourite way to enjoy gin and Mackintosh really doesn’t disappoint! While the main elements are all there from the neat tasting, the citrus is the star here – and you can almost taste the juice of the fresh grapefruit. Floral elderflower follows, with juniper singing out its piney harmonies in the background. 

It’s such an incredible gin and tonic and I found the sweet spot to be about 2:1 tonic to gin, with Fever-Tree Mediterranian Tonic my preference. A wedge of grapefruit or orange also works perfectly with the citrus flavours already present.

Mackintosh Gin is extremely smooth and can easily be enjoyed neat over ice. As expected, it’s a very classic flavour profile, but takes on a contemporary twist with the subtle florals.

Mackintosh Gin bottle, turned 45 degree to show logo appearing as a heart-shape.

Branding.

The Lover’s Knot

Central to the Mackintosh Gin brand is their logo which takes inspiration from a Pictish love knot, found carved on a 9th century stone near the Angus home of James and Deborah. Turn it 45° on its side and it resembles a heart. As well as being significant in its provenance of this Scottish gin, the logo symbolises James and Deborah’s love for each other.

It’s a simple design, but one that embodies the brand – a seemingly close-knit family who are passionate about what they do, and love working together.

REVIEW VERDICT.

A contemporary twist on a classic flavour profile, Mackintosh Gin is a delightful juniper-forward gin. The beautiful citrus and subtle florals in the background leans me towards thinking it would be a good starting point for those looking to enter the category, while still being hugely appealing to gin fanatics.

As a relatively new DIY brand, it’s never been harder to make cut-through in the category. But through their engaging use of social media, Mackintosh Gin has really connected with consumers, bloggers and critics alike. That’s no mean feat and it’s testament to their quality of the gin. And undoubtedly the people behind the brand. I can see Mackintosh Gin being a staple on my shelf for many years to come.

Mackintosh Gin retails at around £37 and can be purchased direct via Mackintosh Gin.

FAQs

Where is Mackintosh Gin made?
Mackintosh Gin is made at Distillutions in Angus, Scotland.

What is the best way to serve Mackintosh Gin?
Mackintosh Gin is best served with ice, Fever-Tree Mediterranian tonic water and a wedge of grapefruit.

How much does Mackintosh Gin Cost?
Mackintosh Gin costs around about £37, RRP.

What are the botanicals Mackintosh Gin?
Mackintosh Gin uses 9 botanicals. These are juniper, coriander seed, angelica, orris root, orange peel, lemon peel, lime peel, fresh grapefruit and elderflower.