Aberdeenshire couple launch Scotland's first gin distilled with hand-picked tea

An enterprising couple from Aberdeenshire have created a quintessentially British drink by combining making gin with tea.

Published 12th Dec 2016
Updated 18 th Sep 2023

Nick Smalley, 33 and wife Emma, 34, have created Scotland's first premium gin distilled with hand-picked tea.

The Teasmith Gin was inspired by the couple's roots in Aberdeenshire and the region's rich history with the tea trade.

The couple, from the village of Udny Green, have spent over a year learning the art of distilling to perfect their blend.

And an initial batch of 560 bottles of the artisan gin, which was distilled at Strathearn Distillery in Perthshire, are set to go on sale this week.

While researching what botanicals to use in their gin, Nick and Emma found that the nearby estuary at Newburgh was a once thriving trading port.

Nick first began experimenting with spirits by creating sloe gin as favours for guests at the couple's wedding.

He said: "Some of the world's most notable tea-clippers were built in Aberdeen harbour, some of which played a major role in opening up the important tea trade routes with the Far East.

"But it was the story of a young man from Auchenblae, Aberdeenshire, who founded the first tea plantation in Sri Lanka in 1867 that intrigued us the most.

"James Taylor, known as the 'Father of Ceylon Tea', transformed the island into one of the finest tea growing regions in the world.

"This little known tale really affirmed our decision to use tea as one of our key botanicals."

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After identifying their trademark ingredient, Nick and Emma worked with tea consultant Beverly-Claire Wainwright to source a highly unique tea from Sri Lanka.

It is a rare tea made entirely by hand without machinery in the same way that Taylor produced his very first batches of tea.
The black loose leaf Ceylon tea is distilled by itself.

It is then blended with a classic gin recipe featuring juniper, coriander, citrus peels and other botanicals which have been double-distilled in traditional copper alembic stills.

Emma said: "It was the first time the distillery had used tea as a botanical so it was a real step into the unknown.

"The result is in the taste - a sweetness, like that of a high quality tea, with a subtle essence of mint.

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"However, the gin doesn't actually taste like tea - the tea leaves give a unique taste that is light on the palate with a distinct, crisp freshness, one of a kind really.

"So anyone who doesn't like tea shouldn't be put off.

"We're planning to expand the Teasmith product range to further explore the unique flavours these speciality teas can truly offer."

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