North Hop

Distil Your Own at Darnley's Gin School

Thursday 13th September 2018

Michelle (Festival Director) and Susan (Highland Ambassador) were delighted to take part in a unique hands-on distilling experience last week, as guests of Darnley’s Gin

The gorgeous Darnley’s distillery cottage is part of the Kingsbarns Distillery & Visitor Centre in Fife, and hosts daily tours and tastings. However, as well as a tasting and tour, Michelle and Susan were on a mission – to distil their own gin!

Distillery staff member Andrea and Distiller Scott were on hand to advise as Michelle and Susan thought about their chosen flavour profile. Despite the urge to add in lots of botanicals, they followed guidance to be selective, choosing around 6 or 7 complementary spices, fruits, seeds or herbs, including the juniper (if there’s no juniper, it isn’t gin!). Michelle went down the mint (freshly dried) route, whilst Susan opted for sweet orange...

Once the botanicals were chosen, they were weighed with precision and added to a mini-still with the base spirit and water, then heated to exactly 80 degrees. At this point, the temperature in each still was kept constant by Andrea, while Scott took Michelle, Susan and some of the Darnley's team (who were also experiencing the 'gin school experience' for the first time) for a classic Darnley’s G&T whilst showing the unique local history of the gin, their chosen botanicals, and of course the beautiful copper still in which Darnley’s gin is made, which includes a unique (almost disco like) lighting set up.

The tour finished with a tasting of all four Darnley’s gin varieties, which included the first in the new limited edition Cottage Series – ‘Very Berry’, made using botanicals all sourced from around the distillery cottage – elderberry, sugar kelp, sloe berry and rosehip. A very refreshing gin, the suggested perfect serve is with a grapefruit soda. 

The Gin School experience ended with bottling and labelling the gins, once the alcohol content was calculated, and after the tough task of deciding on the edition names for the 70cl bottles of gin...naturally the end results were 'Spirit of North Hop' and 'A Highland Blend'!

We can’t think of a better present for a gin fan, it was a brilliant way to spend a few hours, and this has only whetted our appetites for the serves they will be presenting at Spirit of North Hop Dundee in November! Big thanks to Darnley’s for hosting Susan and Michelle and providing such an excellent experience. 

Distil Your Own is held weekly at Darnley’s Distillery on Fridays at 3pm & Saturdays at 11am, and costs £100. The Gin School can accommodate 6 people and private group bookings are available. Call Darnley’s distillery on 01333 451300 to book your space.