Fidra Gin Review

I was very kindly sent a bottle of Fidra Gin to review. After following their progress online for some time I was delighted to have the opportunity to test it out and also speak to the creators Jo and Emma.

Fidra Gin is made in small batches using 6 botanicals. The sea buckthorn and rosehip they forage themselves. The lemon thyme is grown locally at Archerfield Walled Garden and they are hoping to get their thyme from there shortly. They are continuing their search for Scottish juniper and hope to use locally foraged elderflower soon too.

Fidra is a small ialand off the Lothian coast that inspired the creators with the tales of smuggling and treasure. The artwork on the bottle is beautiful and the bottle itself was a real draw for me. Slim and elegant with beautiful lettering and that map!

With provenance being so important it may surprise you to know that they don’t actually own their own distillery. They do something known in the industry as contract distilling. This is where they take their ingredients and use the expertise as well as equipment at another distillery to produce their gin for them. This is a whole lot more common than you may think but what is realy unusual is the fact that Fidra don’t hide it.
1. Can you tell me a bit about the women behind the gin? How did you get into the industry? Why gin? Past experience? Are you the only owners?

We are Jo Brydie and myself, Emma Bouglet. Jo is a podiatrist and I am an ex investment banker and now own a small childcare business. Jo and I are passionate about gin and wanted a project we would work together on. We started researching gin making and attended the Gin awards in 2017 where we ended up sitting next to Walter of Inshriach. We got talking and he wanted to help us start out our dream by letting us use his still and of course his expertise. Before our gin journey began we had no experience in the gin industry. Fidra gin is owned by just Jo and myself.
2. How did you settle on your recipe for Fidra Gin? Did you start out with other botanicals or did you have a clear vision of what you wanted to include?

We purchased a 5 litre still called Sadie and started trying out different combinations of botancials. Doing this made us realise we only wanted to use botancials we could pick or grow ourselves, hence the final recipe.

3. You are very open on your website that your gin is distilled at Inshriach Distillery which is great in today’s climate – honesty and provenance are becoming increasingly important. Why did you decide to use an external distiller? Do you believe your gin can still be classed as “a gin from East Lothian”?

We met Walter by chance at the gin awards and Jo and I didn’t want to take any loans or get ourselves into debt by buying stills and kit as we didn’t know if people would actually like our gin! Walter suggested contract distilling to start with to see how we got on. We class ourselves at the moment as a Scottish coastal gin using East Lothian botanicals.

4. How many bottles are you producing?

We produce 250 approx bottles per batch and we are now on batch 9 – we launched September 2018.
5. Do you have any tastings, festivals or events lined up?

We took part in International Scottish Gin Day this year which was a great showcase of Scottish gin at Mansfield Traquair. Going forward, we have a few events in the lead up to Christmas. One being the Nether Abbey gin festival in November 8/9th.

6. Future plans for Fidra?

We got the keys to our future distillery in Kilduff farm back in May and we are gradually buying our kit. So far we are the proud owners of a labelling machine! We will be up and running and making an East Lothian Gin by the end of this year/ beginning of 2020.

So here you can really get a glimpse of a gin company from the ground up. You can follow their journey over on Instagram @fidragin and also on their website https://fidragin.com

Thanks so much to Jo and Emma for their time and for being so open and honest.

The Gin

On the nose this gin gives away it’s coastal roots with a salty tang that is mellowed by a herbyness from the rosehip. You do get the juniper but not as much as I expected.

The initial flavour is quite restrained, you pick up a citrus note from the lemon thyme and a beautiful sweetness comes through from the elderflower. When mixed with a tonic the juniper starts to build.

Left with a really nice aftertaste it is fresh but I wouldn’t say crisp. Definitely one of the more mellow gins I have had in a while. If you take time to work with a few tonics you can find they bring out different flavours in this gin.

I prefered it neat with ice, it is a great sipping gin, or just a splash of light Merchants Heart tonic.

This gin isn’t quite punchy enough to become one of my favourites, I like my gins a bit drier with lot more junper bite. But this is a delicate and very well crafted gin. I think if you enjoy the finish of Caorunn this will appeal. Layered flavours and a subtle sweet tongue.

I was gifted a bottle of Fidra Gin in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own.

Again many thanks to Fidra Gin for the opportunity to test out their product. I wish them lots of luck for the exciting times they have ahead as as they forge on with their own distillery.

Pam xxx

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