I recently discovered that my old home town of Stirling was finally getting it’s very first Gin Distillery. Of course, I immediately reached out and went along to see the distillery and meet the team.
Just to confirm that I received no payment, incentives or freebies in exchange for this review. All thoughts and expressions are my own. Photo credit to Emily Hutton and Stirling Gin for my featured images of their new bottles. Other images are my own.
I first discovered Stirling Gin in 2017 when I tasted it at a gin festival. Having lived in Stirling for over a decade and having family ties to the area I was delighted to see a new gin evolve with such clear ambition to keep a link to the city with its branding and story.
Stirling Gin is the invention of June and Cameron McCann, who having run the Stirling Whisky Festival had an epiphany when they realised that Stirling didn’t have it’s own gin! They distilled their first gin in late 2015 and since then have set a light under the gin industry, winning awards and fulfilling their ambition to have their own distillery in Stirling.
Stirling Gin is pretty innovative and ties itself to it’s location with the addition of handpicked (and I checked and was shown the nettle stings!) Stirlinghshire nettles. Along with basil, lemon peel, orange peel, angelica root and of course juniper.
The original bottle label was a bit rustic. The new bottles have been designed with a new focus on style. Sealed with hand dipped wax seals and unique illustrations by Richie Collins. These new bottles will be available as soon as the distillery is operational.
On the nose you get a fresh and herbal scent. It had me smiling as I was immediately filled with a juniper hit that always makes me happy. Too many gins currently forget that juniper is supposed to be the main component! Being able to smell it straight away reassured me that this was going to be a good spirit.
It has quite a dry immediate mouth feel that quickly turns herbaceous. I like the savoury note and it is complimented by a lighter citrus note. Smooth and fresh. A peppery finish makes you realise where those nettles come in. It is an interesting flavour profile and pretty distinctive.
At 43% it packs a nice punch but wasn’t too hard, still not one I could see me drinking straight up though – I will need to try their Battle Strength as often the higher the percentage the smoother and easier drinking alone the spirit becomes! I really enjoyed their gin with my favourite 1724 tonic and an orange wedge but I also tried it as their perfect serve with a Mediterranean Fever tree, orange and some basil leaves. I really enjoyed the mix or floral and herbal notes in this. I also made up this cocktail below which showed me how great the flavour of the gin was as it was pretty versatile and managed to fight against some bold flavours to shine through.
• 25ml Stirling Gin
• 25ml Grapefruit Juice
• 75ml Prosecco
• Dash Orange Bitters
• sprig thyme
– Shake gin, grapefruit juice and bitters with ice. Pour into a champagne flute
– Top with Prosecco and garnish with thyme.
As well as their Classic and Battle Strength distillations they have a Folklore Collection which are gin liqueurs. Sourcing local fruits and herbs they have a “Green Lady” and a “Red Cap”. Both using all that Stirling history and mythology. My mum was delighted to hear about the Green Lady liqueur, having grown up in nearby Fallin she heard tales of the green ghost in Stirling Castle throughout her childhood. I think having such a selection of products already under their belt is a massive achievement and testiment to their dedication and experience. Including and in fact promoting their regions history in their branding and production is a great move.
The distillery sits in the shadow of Stirling Castle and the Old Smiddy building itself dates from 1888 – having been opened as a church temperance hall – I wonder what they would make of it now! There is thought to have been building on the site from the 1500’s however, and the place is steeped in history. I arrived to a flurry of activity as the final touches were being put to the now unrecognisable building. Rustic beams and exposed brickwork help make the space atmospheric and the Distillery Manager Lara was keen to explain their plans. They are going to offer ‘make your own gin’ sessions, having invested in some mini stills. This will give customers an opportunity to see how botanicals come together in the end product as well as being able to take away a very personal spirit. They also hope to have a flourishing garden complete with many flora commonly found in gins and used as garnishes.
With a visitor centre, shop, wild flower garden, tastings, tours and events are all in the pipeline it is a good job these guys have enthusiasm by the bucket load and you can see their passion for the product and the business. They are keen to put Stirling on the map as a stopover destination, and not just as a hop off on a tour spot. And I must say, having visited on the sunniest of Friday afternoons I could not think of a better spot to stop in and gain some gin knowledge.
Lara, the Distillery Manager hails from Australia. With a Creative Writing Degree from Edinburgh she gained experience in the whisky industry before moving over to gin. She exudes a love for the industry as she talked through companys progress. While Jordan is one of the youngest Head Distillery’s I have met he has a quiet confidence and with an Honours Degree in Distilling from Herriot Watt he knows his stuff. I have no doubt that the Stirling Gin Distillery has some exciting times ahead and I can’t wait to see it when it opens – which is any minute! If you want to check it out then you can find them here – Stirling Gin. They are prominent on social media too so you can find their latest news by looking them up on Instagram and Facebook.
Thanks again to the team at Stirling Gin for the warm welcome. Please check them out and let me know what you think.