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11 of the best Scottish gin distillery day trips

Gin expert and creator of the Gin Room Scotland Jayne Carmichael Norrie picks out her favourite Scottish gin distillery day outs.

Published: May 3, 2017
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This is a great time of year; when the days are getting lighter and you start to plan what's ahead for your Summer adventures.

With things being the way they are, a foreign holiday may be outwith the budget for a lot of people this year.

But don't fret. Scottish gin is having a moment right now, with a 50 per cent increase in the number of Scottish gin producers in the last year alone.

There are a plethora of Scottish gin producers that have thrown open their doors to welcome the general public.

Those gin makers really love what they do, and it shows.

Their tours are a hub of enthusiasm and appreciation of Gin.  You'll stand in awe of the towering Copper stills, get to feel and smell the fruits and botanicals.

You'll get to have a sample or two of their freshest batches of craft Gin, and chat with the distillers about provenance and craftsmanship.

These wonderful places are dotted all around Scotland.

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For those of you who are planning a stay-cation, make this summer the summer of Scottish Gin Adventures!

You and your friends can bundle into a car and head off for a wee tasting.

Take this opportunity to go a bit off the beaten track; find yourself meandering down country roads in amongst fields of sheep, where hardly anyone knows of the bounteous treasures found in the local gin distillery.

Shetland Reel

(Anderbrae, Shetland ZE2 9EF)

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Right up there in the most Northerly part of the UK, Shetland Reel is way up in Unst in the Shetland Isles.

For some, you might have to take a ferry, or you can catch a direct flight from Aberdeen, Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Shetland Reel has won several awards for their Gins, including the Silver San Fransisco World Sprits Award for both their Original and Ocean Sent Gins.

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They are one of the few Scottish Gin Producers that forage for their botanicals in the local area.

They use locally-grown Applemint from the Unst market for their Original Gin, and have trained themselves to find coastal bladderwrack seaweed for their Ocean Sent Gin.

Guided tastings run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 12 noon.

For £10 you get a Tasting Session with Shetland Reel experts and a discount voucher for on-site purchases.

Advance booking for your tour is essential: contact Shetland Reel on 01957 711 217 for your session.

Isle of Harris

(Tarbert, Isle of Harris HS3 3DJ)

Picture: Isle of Harris Facebook

Take a quick flight from the Central Belt and you will be in Stornoway in just over an hour.

This Distillery has the future of Harris at the heart of everything it does; it wants to create jobs for the people of Harris to stop its decline in population.

The only place you can buy a bottle of Isle of Harris is directly from their Distillery, or from their network of depositories across Scotland.

Their Cafe and gift shops offers some great treats made on the premises, and is a platform for other craft makers on Harris such as AS Apothecary beauty products.

Isle of Harris also celebrate the provenance of their locale; Sugar Kelp seaweed is dived for the distillery.  The aromatic water is brilliant with the Isle of Harris Serve with Walter Gregor Tonic and a slice of Grapefruit.

The Distillery Tours take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10am, 12pm and 2pm.

Booking for the tours is essential, call directly on 01859 502212.

Eden Mill

(Main St, Guardbridge, St Andrews KY16 0UU)

Picture: Eden Mill Facebook

Jump on a train to Leuchars and you are almost at Eden Mill, Scotland's only Distillery that is a triple threat; beer, whisky and gin.

So it doesn't matter who your Day Trip buddies are, you can keep everyone happy!

£10 for a one-hour tour is a great bargain; you get a guided tour of the distillery and at the end a choice of three Eden Mill Gins to try from, with mixers and a bit of recommended garnish.

Love Gin is my favourite, so fruity! Their distillery shop is full of great gin miniatures that you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else, great for a wee present to yourself, or one for the designated driver.  I also loved the Blueberry and Vanilla Gin.

Make a day of it; after you have built up that Dutch Courage head into central St. Andrews for a historical Ghost Tour.

You can book your Gin tour online at

Edinburgh Gin

(1a Rutland Place, Edinburgh EH1 2AD)

Take a quick train down to Edinburgh, if you're lucky you might be able to get a cheap 1st class split ticket on Virgin Trains to make the trip a bit more swanky.

Not far from the bustle of Princes Street you can get a £25 Gin Tour in front of Edinburgh Gin stills, Flora and Caledonia.

The tour includes 4 gin samples paired with tonics and garnishes, with another G & T at the end.

The advice from fellow gin fans on Trip Advisor is to make sure you have some food beforehand, you get a lot of Gin for your money!

You can also upgrade to an Edinburgh Gin Making Experience; 3 hours where you bottle and label your own custom Gin.

The Tours are at 5pm, 6pm & 7pm, Tues – Sun.

£5 deposit per person required to secure reservation. Booking is essential for weekends, it gets really busy. Call 0131 656 2811 for reservations.

Lilliard Gin

(Born in the Borders, Lanton Mill, Jedburgh TD8 6ST)

Picture: Lilliard Facebook

One of the newest entries on the Scottish gin scene, and one of the first gin producers in the Borders since 1837.

Lillliard is quite a floral gin, with a really smooth mouth feel.  The first batches were created at the start of the year and demand has grown considerably.

Lilliard Gin distillery is in a converted farm steading, part of the 'Born in the Borders' complex that also houses a brewery, restaurant & shop, and is open for visitors.

They offer pre-arranged visits and monthly gin tasting events at weekends and ‘ad-hoc’ opening hours by request.

There are a lot of collaborative events by Born in the Borders and Lilliard; Easter Sunday had Gin tastings with grass-sledging and fishing, a good trip for kids & parents alike.

Check out their Facebook page or call 01835 830 784 for more info on booking tours and Born in the Borders events.

Gordon Castle Gin

(Gordon Castle Estate, Gordon Lennox Estate Company, Fochabers IV32 7PQ)

Located in the Gordon Castle Estate in Fochabers, it's a 90 minute journey from Aberdeen, but it's definitely worth a visit.

You and your friends can easily spend a whole day there; take a guided tour with the head gardener around their lovingly-restored Walled Garden, which is the place where they source all of the herbs and botanicals for their gin.

Then refuel with a bite to eat from their seasonal menu in their Cafe.

I personally recommend asking someone to be on the soft drinks for the night so you can catch the Gordon Castle Gin Feast; a sumptuous four-course meal served with four matching Gordon Castle Gin Cocktails.

The food was amazing, and the cocktails were a real delight.  They didn't win the Best Food Tourism Venue from the North East Food & Drink Awards for nothing.

Persie Gin

(Glenshee Road (A93), Bridge of Cally, Perthshire, Scotland PH10 7LQ)

Just a quick drive up the road from Blairgowrie is Persie Gin.

The road itself is spectacular; you are truly going into the countryside, with fields of sheep and woodland and fantastic scenery.

If you want to feel like you are getting away from it, this is the trip for you.

Don't do what I did and go down the road with the metal 'Persie' sign.  That takes you do a warm-natured farmer who has a new occupation in giving directions to gin-soaked numpties like me.

Drive PAST the black metal 'Persie' sign (for Persie farm) and you will see the huge Persie Distillery signs in bright orange, which I somehow managed to miss.

Chrissie and Simon are the owners of Persie Distillery and they offer private tastings for your group 12pm - 6pm every day, just send them an email to book.

You get to try all three of their Gins with your choice of mixer, with complimentary soft drinks or tea/coffee for everyone.

As soon as you arrive you will be made to feel very welcome, sitting around a big kitchen table, which has a warm and familiar feel like my Gran's house.

A window at the end of the converted steading showcased the huge copper stills for Persie Gin; Zestie Citrus, Herby & Aromatic Gin and Sweet & Nutty Old Tom.

By favourite was the Citrus Gin, it's so zesty! Persie is well worth a DayTrip; I felt like I was entering a private world of Gin, hidden in the quiet countryside of Perthshire.  What a hidden gem!

Caorunn Gin

(Balmenach Distillery, Cairngorms National Park, Balmenach Rd, Cromdale, Grantown-on-Spey PH26 3PF)

Picture: Caorunn Facebook

One of the smoothest tasting gins on the market, Caorunn Gin is a great drink for those who haven't tasted many gins but would like to give it a try.

The smoothness of the gin makes it easy to drink neat, or even with just a tiny splash of tonic.

Another great drive that takes you into the lesser-travelled quarters of Scotland, The Caorunn Tour gives you an enlightening peek behind the scenes of their production process, getting to look behind the stills.

Then you are treated to a guided nosing and tasting session with your host.

The tour times change every day, so its best to plan ahead. There are two tours on Mondays and Wednesdays:  one at 10.30am and then 2.00pm, with one tour on Tuesday and Thursdays running at 11am, and one tour at 10am on Fridays.  Tickets are £10 for an intimate tour around the distillery.  Booking is essential,  email or calling + 44 (0)1479 874933.  You can also check out more info here.

Pickerings Gin

(1 Summerhall Summerhall Distillery, Edinburgh EH9 1PL)

In one of the leafier parts of central Edinburgh you will find Summerhall, the former medical campus of Edinburgh University.

Now a multi-cultural arts venue, right in the middle is the Royal Dick pub, with Pickering's Gin on draft as it's only a few feet away from where its made.

Take a right then a left down the corridor and you are at Summerhall Distillery, home of Pickering's Gin, One Square Gin, Royal Yacht Brittania and Ginerosity.

Lisa was so nice when she showed me round; she was very knowledgeable about the products and even showed me round on her day off, bless her.

Distillery Tours are available every day.  For a £10 ticket you get really close to where all the action takes place.

You will get to see the entire production and bottling line, with samples of Pickering’s Gin expressions.

You can book online here

Or, if you are feeling REALLY adventurous, for £45 for two players, you can take part in a live action escape room game, with Pickerings Gin Distillery Room as the escape room.

A collaboration with LockedInEdinburgh and Pickering's Gin; with lateral thinking and a little ingenuity, you will definitely deserve a G & T at the end.  Book the escape game here.

Colonsay Gin

(Tigh na Uruisg, Upper Kilchattan, Isle of Colonsay PA61 7YR)

This is gin adventures on another level.  If you book a gin retreat with Wild Thyme Spirits, the home of Colonsay Gin, you are taken on a luxurious small break Friday to Sunday.

This is full board break with evening meals and lunches.  You have plenty of time to immerse yourself in the stunning scenery, rare wildlife, rocky shorelines and rugged cliffs. A highlight of the itinerary is before your Saturday evening meal, you are treated to a six-gin tasting.

After the meal, you are free to explore the 200 gins from around the world in the collection.

At £325 per person (based on four sharing) this is a more expensive choice for a gin adventure, but it will be a truly memorable weekend away.  Perfect for a real off-beat retreat.  Book directly here.

Crafty Distillery

(Wigtown Rd, Newton Stewart DG8 6JZ)

Another Brand New Scottish gin that is making waves.  This gin tour isn't quite ready yet, but it will launch in June, so get your tickets booked for your gin Stay-cation now!

Based in Galloway in South West Scotland, Crafty Distillery will join the illustrious and rare group of a Scottish gin that also creates its alcohol (Single Estate Gin).

Crafty is inspired by the Galloway region, but with an international twist.

The team at Crafty have went through over 50 different recipes to create their gin, with a few lucky patrons receiving a Crafty 100 Gin sample pack to get feedback on their product.

This new our facility will be a truly a grain to glass distillery, milling, mashing, fermentation and distilling.

And you are invited to see it all!  From our exclusive sneak peek into Crafty from their photos, it's going to be amazing.  You can book your tour in advance from their website.

Coming Soon..

Dunnet Bay Distillers, the home of Rock Rose Gin, are going to start their tours very soon.

There one tour at 3pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and two tours on Saturdays; one at 11am and one at 1pm.

When you meet the staff at distillery you will guided round to learn about Rock Rose, the botanicals and Elizabeth – The fabulously shiny still. Tours are 45 minutes with a tasting of a few samples at the end.

The tour is a very-reasonable £6 per adult. No charge for under 18’s but must be accompanied by an adult.

Prior booking is advised, especially for weekends.

Contact or call 01847 851 287 to arrange your booking. Or you can book online.

Beinn An Tuirc is home of Kintrye Gin on the Torrisdale Estate in Kintyre.  Their Kintyre Gin will be Scotland's first sustainable eco gin, run by the estate's hydro electric system.  The McAlister-Hall family have been in residence at Torrisdale since 1872 and will welcome Gin Tour guests for the first time this Summer.

Kirkjuvagr Gin in Orkney are now in process of creating their new home, as are Glen Wyvis Distillery.

Both of these companies won't be welcoming visitors for a while yet, but it's worth keeping an eye out to know when they are opening.

Let us know what you think


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