Arbikie Distillery Visit
Monday 15th July 2019
As we approach our Exploring Angus event at House of Dun (27/28 July) we were invited down to the family run Arbikie Distillery (only 7 miles away...doesn't get much more local than that!) for a tour around their farm, fields and distillery...
Their tagline is 'Field to Bottle' and that is exactly what they do! On arrival we were met by their East Coast Brand Ambassador Steven who had travelled up from Edinburgh to show us around. Having known some of the Arbikie team and owners for a few years now I can honestly that each and every one of them is so knowledgeable and passionate about the brand and what it stands for!
First stop on the tour was the distillery bar (where else!) for a wee G&T made with Kirsty's Gin to take around with us. Kirsty's Gin (named after their first Master Distiller) has been a firm favourite of mine for a while now, it's a very smooth gin made using kelp, carline thistle and blueberries which represent the elements of ocean, rock and land that surround their farmland.
With gin in hand we headed out to the farm sheds where we got an insight into the equipment used for the very important part of their spirit making process, the potatoes. The use of potatoes (which would otherwise normally be wasted) in their base spirits makes them unique to most other distilleries who make their own base spirit. The potatoes are grown, harvested and processed onsite, with the good part of the crop going off to shops and supermarkets and the remainder used in their distilling process.
Next we moved on to a sneak peek of their brand new polytunnel which is being used to grow botanicals that can't normally be grown in Scotland due to climate, continuing the theme of them growing everything on site!
And talking of growing everything on site next stop was their field of juniper, again a botanical (and core element of gin) that is, believe it or not quite to source and grow in Scotland! These bushes take around about 6 years to produce a crop so they should be using their own juniper within the next few years or so.
At the moment there is no visitor centre/public tours as such of the distillery, however this is being worked on and they are planning to have it up and running for some point in 2020, so watch this space! It was however fascinating to learn of the plans from Steven and see just what was in the pipeline!
The one thing I should also mention is that every which way you look from the distillery and farm, the views are breathtaking. And on the next stage of the tour we were greeted by a spectacular view of Lunan Bay through a sea of casks. The weather at this point was glorious but within minutes the most almighty downpour hit so it was time to head on in and visit the grain stores and then onto the cask warehouse to get up close and personal with cask number 1, something you aren't able to do at many distilleries!
The casks in the warehouse are filled with whisky which have been filled and stored since 2015 onwards. At the moment they have a very special Highland Rye Single Grain Scotch Whisky on the market with more to come over the coming years...
In the warehouse we also got to see/smell the smoked chipotle chillies that go into their smoky Chilli Vodka, what an amazing smell!
Back in the distillery (housed within a renovated cattle barn) Steven talked us through the full distilling process. All their spirits are distilled in the same copper pot stills, with the vodka and gin continuing their journey onto their 40 plate distillation column, an impressive sight in itself! Each of their spirits are distilled differently with the vodka being triple-distilled and the whisky twice-distilled. And following that all bottles are bottled, labelled and sealed on site.
The end of the tour was back at the start point, the distillery bar for a taster of some of their spirit range, including Haar Vodka, AK's Gin and their delicious limited edition Strawberry Vodka, all of which were super smooth, and could be easily drunk straight over ice or with a small amount of mixer.
So, hopefully that's give you a bit of a taster into Arbikie Distillery and hope you will be joining us at House of Dun, 27/28 July to meet some of the Arbikie team and try their tasty spirits in serves and cocktails to enjoy in the courtyard!
North Hop Director