Dalkieth native combines love of Pentland Hills and distilling to create exciting new gin

A Dalkeith entrepreneur has combined his love of the Pentland Hills with his love of Scottish gin to create an exciting new spirit, King's Hill Gin.  

Published 7th Nov 2018
Updated 6 th Oct 2023

Alexander (Sandy) Morrison took inspiration from the huge growth of Scottish gin and his love of the category to set about creating his gin.

While trying to bag all of the Pentland Hills, the range of hills just South of Edinburgh, the fledgeling gin producer explained that he was struck by "wealth of botanicals" growing right there "under his nose", he said: "Abundant brambles, sloes, heather, gorse, elder flower, rosehips, rowan, crab apples to name but a few were all growing there... there was even a few patches of the beloved Juniper!

King's Hill

Picture: King's Hill

"I sat on a beautiful spot overlooking Edinburgh, probably snacking on some of these new found berries, thinking I could make something glorious out of all this abundance right on my doorstep and all within a hop and skip of the beautiful capital city."

Sandy explained that he took the name for his new name, King's Hill, whilst trawling over a map and marking good foraging spots.

The regally-named location peaked his interest and following some research, he discovered that when King Robert the Bruce returned from exile in Ireland and was out celebrating with a fellow nobleman, Sir William St Clair of Rosslyn, a wager was struck between the pair to see who could capture a rare white stag that had been spotted in the area.

"Undoubtedly after one too many ales (or gins, who knows!) Sir William St Clair proclaimed that he had seen a white stag scampering around the King's Pentland estate and that he would bet his own head that he could capture the animal before the King.

"In return, The Bruce accepted the wager offering his entire Pentland Estate as his own stake. They set off soon after with their hunting hounds. Thankfully for St Clair he prevailed and captured the stag, literally saving his own neck. The King heard the commotion and looked down to see the hunt finale, he ran down to congratulate St Clair who then named the spot where the King was standing in his honour, King's Hill.

"The entire estate was now his after all! He also erected a chapel on the spot where he caught the deer, which is now submerged under Glencorse Reservoir. Rumour has it when the reservoir is very low the bell can be heard ringing in the wind. This is the story I eventually stamped on the side of my bottle."

Now based in Loanhead, around 6 miles south-east of Edinburgh, Sandy creates his gins on an Iberican pot still at the foot of the Pentland Hills, the larder for some of the non-standard botanicals he uses.

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Sandy describes King's Hill as a "classic Juniper-led, crisp and clear London Dry" gin, and believes it "truly champions the area it has been born from".

Priced at £39.95, the bottle comes complete with a glass 'Vinolok' stopper and features twelve lines, each of which represents one of the botanicals used in creating the gin, as well being the outlines of the actual Pentland Hills.

Featuring classic botanicals such as juniper, orris root and coriander alongside botanicals handpicked from the Pentland Hills including gorse, rosehips, heather and elderflower, this exciting new gin is, according to Sandy, perfectly served with plenty of ice, Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic and a healthy slice of grapefruit -  "add a sprig of purple heather if feeling funky".

• King's Hill is available online at www.distillersmarket.com, www.craft56.co.uk and www.masterofmalt.com

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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