Drink Aberdeen 2017 Opening Dinner with Isle of Harris Gin
Thursday 1st June 2017
Now into its third year, Drink Aberdeen is the creation of our good friends and cocktail legends, 10 Dollar Shake. It is a week-long programme of seminars, workshops, dinners, and tastings; and the events are open to both consumers and trade.
This year the line-up was looking pretty epic and was perfectly timed as our Festival Director Michelle was on tour in Aberdeen and Glasgow that week, so Aberdeen-based Digital Marketing Manager, Suz mentioned the opening dinner with the awesome Isle of Harris Gin it was impossible to resist!
The Isle of Harris Gin Dinner was the official opening of Drink Aberdeen and took place at one of 10 Dollar Shake's venues, Rye & Soda, with a 5 course menu paired with Harris Gin and gin cocktails.
On arrival at Rye & Soda we ordered a couple of gin and tonic’s, Michelle going for a Brockman’s and Suz going for a Persie Zesty Citrus Gin. Just as we were finishing off our manic Monday G&T’s the bartenders came around with a lovely welcome gin and tonic featuring the gin of the night, Isle of Harris Gin and a nice slice of pink grapefruit, Fevertree tonic and Harris Gin’s signature piece de resistance, a drop of their Sugar Kelp Aromatic Water, lush!
Not far behind followed the first course of the night (and possibly our favourite), the canapés! Head Chef Chris Tonner had created Little Crab Cakes and Oyster Rockefeller Toasties, served on a rustic wooden board, the perfect seafaring opening to accompany Isle of Harris Distillers Director, Simon Erlanger’s introduction to the distillery.
Simon began by telling everyone how the distillery began and how it became known as ‘The Social Distillery’. All staff members at the distillery are local, something they take much pride in, and the distillery are keen to keep it that way, training local people to take on upcoming positions. This is something our Festival Director Michelle respects and appreciates having grown up in a small village on the West coast of Scotland where there is now a distinct lack of local ‘community spirit’. Even the distilleries ‘nosing panel’ is made up of community volunteers, a job many of us would enjoy if we lived closer I’m sure!
Harris Distillery employed an Ethnobotanist (who also had a hobby as a wild swimmer) back in the initial stages of the the gin development who suggested they should take the key botanical for the gin from below the sea instead of above, and so the Sugar Kelp story began, giving the gin a rather special and unique ‘taste of the sea’.
Which brought us on rather nicely to the next course of the meal, a starter of Lobster Ravioli with Langoustine Tempura and Barra Asparagus paired with a Hebridean Fashioned cocktail (Suz’s favourite one of the night) combining Harris Gin with Chai Falernum and Ginger & Cinnamon Bitters.
The next course was a refreshing intermediate of Harris Gin Sorbet paired with a straight tasting of Isle of Harris Gin (if you haven’t already tried it straight do it next time you open a bottle to appreciate all the botanicals and smoothness) accompanied with some more gin chat from Simon and the discovery of the text embossed into the bottom of the bottle (bet you hadn’t noticed it before either!?) which reads ‘Esse Quam Videri’, the distilleries Chairman’s family motto meaning ‘To be, rather than to seem’ - something that Isle of Harris Distillers strive to remain true to.
The gin bottle itself is quite something and has certainly proven quite popular with all the up-cyclers out there turning them into lamps, vases, and like the one on our table at dinner, a water bottle. Real copper and sugar kelp was used in the original label which was then photographed and reproduced for the final labels. The bottle has won 8 design awards so far and we are pretty sure that award collection will only continue to grow!
Next up was the main, Island Lamb 3 Ways (rack, flank, sweetbread) with Jersey Royal Gratin and Burnt Onion, paired with a lovely fresh Tarbert Cooler cocktail (Harris Gin, Fino Sherry, Lemon Juice, Soda Water), Michelle’s favourite cocktail of the night! The main went down rather well at our table minus the sweetbreads which are certainly an acquired taste!
To round off the evening, we were treated to a dessert of Tonka Bean & Juniper Panna Cotta with Meringue and Summer Berries paired with a delicious Clover Redux cocktail (Harris Gin, Kamm & Sons, Lemon Juice, Raspberry Syrup, Egg White), the perfect finish to a pretty awesome night!
Massive thanks to Gomes and the team at 10 Dollar Shake for organising the event, the team at Rye & Soda for the amazing food and drinks and Simon from Isle of Harris Distillers for his fascinating chat! If you haven’t already got a bottle of Isle of Harris Gin in your gin collection then make sure you get one now, and don’t forget you can now ‘click & collect’ with their network of collection points across Scotland including Rye & Soda…