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Scottish gin distillery guide: the best distilleries in Scotland you can visit for a tour or day trip

Scottish gins are more popular than ever, so why not take a trip to one of the country's exciting distilleries to learn more about this flourishing spirit?

Published: September 10, 2019
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If you're a fan of gin but want to know more about how the spirit is made, there are plenty of Scottish gin distilleries that you can visit for a tour or as part of a day trip.

From the capital to the Highlands and Islands - including big names and small, craft distilleries - you may be able to visit your favourite brand and buy a bottle after a tour.

Here we take a look at some of the best Scottish gin distilleries for tour or day trip.

Edinburgh Gin

(1a, Rutland St, Edinburgh EH1 2AD)

Scottish gin distilleries tours

Picture: Edinburgh Gin

Edinburgh is fast becoming a gin-lovers paradise thanks to distilleries such as Edinburgh Gin, Pickerings, Port of Leith and Old Curiosity.

Owned by Ian Macleod Distillers, Edinburgh Gin has been a favourite of many for a few years now, and has both a visitor centre and distillery on Rutland Place and a distillery at the Biscuit Factory in Leith.

Tours are conducted at the visitor centre in the city centre, an attraction that rates highly on TripAdvisor and welcomes visitors from all over the world.

The visitor centre offers three great tours: a Gin Discovery tour, Gin Connoisseur tour and the Gin Making tour.

The Gin Discovery tour is a basic distillery tour that teaches you the story behind Edinburgh Gin as well as allowing you to see their distillation techniques.

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You also get a free sample or a miniature bottle of Edinburgh Gin to take home. Booking is essential as weekend availability is limited.

The Gin Connoisseur tour is a distillery tour that includes a fun tutored tasting with Edinburgh’s Gin and their gin liqueurs, as well as a 20cl bottle of gin for you to take away.

The Gin Making Experience is a distilling experience that allows you to learn about Edinburgh Gin’s distillation techniques before creating your very own gin complete with personalised label.

Tours and prices

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Gin Discovery Tour: £10.00

Gin Connoisseur Tour: £25.00

Gin Making Experience: £100.00

Port of Leith Distillery

(Tower Street, Leith Edinburgh)

new flavoured gins

Picture: Port of Leith Distillery

The history of Edinburgh, or in particular Leith, and gin goes back hundreds of years, so it is not much of a surprise that the capital is now home to a port-based distillery.

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One of the newest producers of gin - the moreish Lind and Lime gin (and a sherry, with whisky on the way) is the Port of Leith Distillery, which is still under construction and is set to become Scotland’s first ever vertical distillery.

Both the Lind and Lime gin and the Port of Leith sherry are currently being housed at The Tower Street Stillhouse near the site of the future distillery.

Named after Edinburgh’s Dr. James Lind, a hero of the Scottish Enlightenment, who observed that citrus fruits prevented scurvy in the world’s first recorded clinical trial, Lind & Lime Gin is priced at £35 for 70cl and combines flavours of lime and pink peppercorn.

With a base spirit at 96 per cent ABV, the gin has been distilled with “seven carefully curated botanicals” that come together in a “delicate harmony”.

Designed in a distinctive wine bottle shape, Lind & Lime Gin harks back to Leith’s past as a trading harbour for wines, sherries and ports, which were the most valuable commodities to pass through the docks from the 14th century onwards.

To find out more and see the distillation process, visitors can visit the still house for a 75 minute tour and tasting of the gin, sherry and signature gimlet.

Tour and price 

Tour and tasting at the Tower Street still house: £20

Pickering’s Gin

(Summerhall Distillery, Summerhall, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL)

Picture: Pickering's Gin Facebook

Another Edinburgh gin distillery - Pickering's - is based at Summerhall and part of the site of the old animal kennels of the University Veterinary School, affectionately known as the Dick Vet.

When the Summerhall Distillery opened its doors in 2014, they became the first gin distillery to be established in Edinburgh for over 150 years.

Pickering’s secret weapon is a 60 year-old original Bombay recipe that uses nine botanicals in each batch – juniper, coriander, cardamom, angelica (cinnamon in the 1947 gin), fennel, anise, lemon, lime and cloves – and is produced using Gert and Emily (Pickering’s stills).

Their gin comes in three core bottlings – navy-strength, original and the 1947 – as well as the occasional limited edition.

Plus their Christmas gin baubles sparked a national craze when they sold out in record time when they launched in 2017.

Pickering's have a permanent Gin Jolly tour, which is available to book Thursdays-Sundays where visitors can see how the gin is made and enjoy a tasting.

During August and the Edinburgh Festival, bookings can be made for tours through the Summerhall Fringe site and this Gin Jolly tour includes a Pickering’s and Tonic, sample of three gins and a Pickering's gin cocktail.

Tours and prices

Gin Jolly: £10

August Fringe tours: £15

The Secret Herb Garden Distillery

(The Secret Herb Garden, 32A Old Pentland Road, Lothianburn, Edinburgh EH10 7EA)

Picture: Old Curiosity Facebook

Nestled at the foot of the Pentland Hills on the edge of the capital, The Old Curiosity distillery is probably the most magical setting in which to learn more about gin.

Making its home in the Secret Herb Garden and sporting its very own botanical garden, visitors can watch the hand-picking and drying of the garden’s flowers and plants through to distilling of the drink itself on a tour.

If you like what you see and try, you can join the Old Curiosity Gin Club, where you can sample a brand new and exclusive gin flavour every month.

Tours and prices

Gin Garden and Distillery Tour: £15

Friday Evening Discovery Tour: £15

NB Gin

(Halflandbarns, North Berwick, EH39 5PW)

NB is a small, purpose-built distillery and gin school in the heart of some of the best scenery the south east coast has to offer.

Offering two relaxed distillery tours, with plenty of gin and a selection of canapés made by local chefs (include some NB gin infused foods), visitors can chill in the bespoke lounge complete with log burners and comfortable sofas.

The Connoisseur tour, which is available on Fridays 5-7pm and Saturdays 2-4pm, lasts about two hours and gives a comprehensive insight into the production process and NB's journey in the industry.

The tour concludes with a full tasting of the distillery's gins, vodka and rum, and a drink of choice will be poured to enjoy with a selection of canapés.

Tours and prices

Connoisseur Tour: £36

Taster Tour: £18

Eden Mill

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

Eden Mill is located just a couple of miles west of the famous home of golf, and is considered to be one of Scotland’s most unique distilleries in that it is also a brewery.

Currently one of Scotland’s most prolific gin producers, the distillery has released a wide range of gins including their intriguing Hop gin, the punchy Oak gin and the sweet tasting Love gin, as well as a range of liqueurs.

The company are in the process of building a new site, so tours are not available during this time but visitors can still enjoy a tasting and browse their extensive range of gins.

St Andrews Gin Tasting

This hour-long session includes sampling gins from the range with advise on how to serve them. The tasting also includes information on the creativity and innovation that has made Eden Mill one of Scotland's most popular names in gin.

Price: £15

Isle of Harris Distillery

(Tarbert, Isle of Harris HS3 3DJ)

Picture: Harris Gin

Consistently voted one of Scotland's most popular gins, this island spirit has been making waves since it launched in 2015 thanks to its unique taste and eye-catching bottle, which has also won awards.

Harris Gin is made using nine botanicals including locally-sourced, hand-dived sugar kelp (which gives the gin its coastal flavour) and produced in a small copper still – affectionately known as ‘The Dottach’.

The bottle was designed by the team at Stranger & Stranger, and reflects the rolling waves of the Harris coast.

If you're planning a trip to the Hebrides and Harris, it is well worth popping into the custom built distillery for a tour and spot of lunch.

The dedicated tour, which lasts an hour and 15 minutes, lets visitors see the inner workings of the distillery as well as being given the chance to sample some of their wonderful, award-wining gin.

Tours are priced at £10.00 per person (inclusive of whisky and gin samplings) and last one hour and fifteen minutes.

Tour and price

Distillery tour: £10

Benromach Distillery

(Invererne Rd, Forres IV36 3EB)

Picture: Red Door Gin

Fans of both whisky and gin will enjoy this newly opened visitor experience at the Benromach Distillery in Speyside.

The Red Door Gin experience, which is the region’s first single site whisky and gin visitor attraction, has recently opened its doors at the distillery in Forres.

The new visitor attraction will give gin fans the chance learn the story of Red Door Gin, which was launched in 2018, from the history of the distillery to the secrets of how the distillers create each handcrafted batch of Highland gin.

Housed behind the distillery’s iconic red door, which also gives the gin its name, the one hour tour brings the distillation process to life while introducing guests to “Peggy” – the small copper pot still where every batch of Red Door Gin is carefully handmade by the on-site team.

After learning about botanicals and distillation, visitors can make their way to the Red Door Gin bar to sample the perfect Red Door G&T or signature cocktail.

Tour and price

Priced at £10 per person – including a Red Door G&T – the Red Door Gin Visitor Experience is open (Over-18s only) from Tuesday to Saturday, 9:30am-5pm until October and then 10am-4pm Monday to Friday from November during the winter season.

Shetland Reel

(Anderbrae, Shetland ZE2 9EF)

Picture: Shetland Reel Facebook

Another distillery to pop into if you're planning a Scottish island trip.

The gins available at Shetland Reel are made with locally foraged botanicals including apple mint and bladderwrack seaweed from the Shetland coastline (used in the Ocean Sent gin)

They also have a Simmer gin, which is inspired by the Shetland skies and summer twilight and features notes of orange and liquorice, and have created limited edition spirits such as one for the Up Helly Aa Festival.

Guided tastings are available from April until September on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 12pm.

Tickets include a tasting session with a product expert and a discount for on-site purchases.

Tour and price

Guided tasting: £10

Dunnet Bay Distillery

(Dunnet, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 8XD)

Picture: Rock Rose

As well as creating one of the fastest selling craft gins in the UK - Rock Rose, Dunnet Bay also produces a vodka, Holy Grass Vodka.

Rock Rose Gin is named after one of their rare botanicals the “Rhodiola rosea” which is very difficult to find but grows on the cliffs of Caithness.

From March until November, husband-and-wife team Martin and Claire Murray welcome guests for a tour of their distillery, including an introduction to Elizabeth, their copper still.

The tour price includes a gin and tonic, which can be enjoyed by the fireside and tutored tasting of the spirits.

There is also a distillery shop on hand offering all of their spirits.

Tour and price

Distillery tour: £15

Crossbill Disillery

(Unit 1 BaAD 54 Calton Entry G40 2SB)

Picture: Crossbill Gin School

Producing their first small batch of just 200 bottles in 2013, Crossbill are now running at full production in their relatively new, purpose built home near Glasgow's Barrowlands.

Named after the indigenous bird that can only be found in the ancient forests of Scotland, Crossbill gin is one of the only gin distilleries to use 100 per cent Scottish juniper and rosehip, with the distillers claiming to have revived Scotland’s juniper production.

While a conventional tour isn't available, it is well worth visiting the distillery's gin school, which offers visitors the chance to sample straight from the still and to create your own custom Crossbill blends.

This three hour experience includes a complimentary tutored tasting, instruction and talk from Crossbill’s founder, a personalised 50cl bottle of your own recipe gin and a discount at the distillery shop.

Gin school info and price

Gin school: £120

Kingsbarns Distillery

(Kingsbarns, St Andrews KY16 8QE)

Picture: Darnley's Gin

Named in celebration of the moment that Mary Queen of Scots first spied her husband-to-be Lord Darnley at Wemyss Castle in 1565, Darnley’s is produced in a charming gin cottage on the site of the Kingsbarns Distillery in Fife.

This traditional spirit is a London dry style made with botanicals, which are artfully illustrated on each label.

So far the main collection consists of an original gin, spiced gin and navy strength gin, with a berry edition released last year as part of the cottage collection.

In 2017 they moved the distilling from London to St Andrew’s and added a ‘Distil Your Own’ experience to their tour offering, inviting visitors to create their own recipe from a selection of botanicals and distil a 70cl bottle of gin to take home.

The Discover Darnley's tour runs four times a day from April until September, from 12-4.30pm

During the tour, visitors will learn about the Darnley's story, meet Dorothy the copper still, find out more about the history and botanicals before trying the three gins.

The Distil Your Own tour will showcase the art of distillation and what it takes to create a gin. Visitors will create a bespoke gin, explore the botanicals on offer at Darnley's, tour the distillery and sample the gin range as well as a couple of G&T's.

At the end of the experience, visitors will fill, label and name their unique creation to take home and enjoy in a branded Darnley’s gift bag.

Tours and prices

Discover Darnley's: £10

Distil your own: £100 or £125 for a shared experience

The Oro Distilling Company

(Dalton, Nr. Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway DG11 1DU)

Picture: Origin Photography

The Oro Distilling Company is a family-owned venture, headed up by Ray Clynick, a scientist who is also a graduate of the Heriot Watt International Centre for Brewing & Distilling.

Having built a bespoke distillery in the south of Scotland, all Oro gins are now produced and bottled there under Ray’s careful eye.

Throughout the week, the Oro team run a bespoke programme of Distillery Tours and Tasting Classes, from 10am – 4pm, Monday to Friday.

The Master Tour allows visitors to meet one of Oro’s distillers, who will explain exactly how Oro Gin is made (including the science behind the process) and how to make the perfect gin and tonic.

These tours are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Brazilian.

Tour and price

The Master tour: £15

The Glasgow Distillery Company

(8 Deanside Rd, Glasgow G52 4XY)

Scottish gin distilleries tour

Picture: Makar Glasgow Gin Facebook

Home of Makar Gin, the Glasgow Distillery Company also produces the first malt whisky in the city in over 100 years, 1770 and the Banditti Club spiced rum.

Visitors are invited to an interactive tour and tasting at The Glasgow Distillery Company, where you can see first hand the craftsmanship and care that goes into each bottle.

Tours are held in collaboration with Tennent's, so it's worth making a day of it to find out more about one of the best-loved names and the newest in the drink scene in Glasgow.

The tour starts at the Tennent’s Visitor Centre at Wellpark Brewery, an iconic destination that is home to over 450 years of brewing tradition and expertise.

After tasting some of Tennent's products, including exclusive brews, visitors will take a short trip to the distillery where a tour and guided tasting of Makar Gin and single malt awaits.

Tour and price

Tennent's and Glasgow Distillery Co. tour: £38

Persie Distillery

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

Scottish gin distilleries tour

Picture: Persie gin

Owners of Persie Gin, Chrissie and Simon have focused their gin production on the adage that 75 per cent to 95 per cent of a gin’s flavour profile is based on smell, creating a Zesty Citrus Gin, a Herby & Aromatic one and their Sweety and Nutty Old Tom Gin.

The distillery has also created special dog themed gins for charity.

If this sounds like something you'd like to know more about then a trip to the distillery is a must.

Tours are from 12-6pm, Saturday to Thursday, and visitors can hear more about the Persie story and the gin botanicals as well as sampling before buying.

The Liquid tour includes a gin flight of Persie expressions in the distillery tasting room – followed by special editions or cocktail samples .

Tours and prices

Liquid tour: £15

Beinn An Tuirc Distillers

(Lephincorrach Farm, Torrisdale, Carradale, Campbeltown, Argyll, PA28 6QT)

Gaelic for the Hill of the Black Boar, Kintyre gin is made at a small, sustainable distillery on the Torrisdale Castle Estate.

The gin is made using 12 botanicals including the distinctive Icelandic moss and sheep sorrel to make a rich earthy and floral gin.

To find out more about this distillery and gin, the team offer hour long tours which tell of this history of the estate and the gin journey.

Visitors can see the gin still, Big Don, and try some of the products available before ending with a gin and tonic in the tasting room. Drivers will be given a 5cl miniature to take away and enjoy later.

Tour and price

Distillery tour: £7.50

Bruichladdich Distillery

(Bruichladdich Distillery, Isle of Islay, Argyll, PA49 7UN)

bruichladdich jobs

Not just for whisky fans, a trip to Islay can also include a gin or two as, one of the most popular gins, The Botanist, is made at the famed Bruichladdich distillery.

Made using foraged island botanicals, including gorse and wild mint, the dedicated gin tour offers visitors the chance to visit the still room and find out more about the gin making process.

Afterwards you can taste the gin and have a go at making some cocktails.

Tour and price

The Botanist tour: £25

Balmenach distillery

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

Scottish gin distilleries tour

Picture: Caorunn Facebook

Caorunn gin, created at Balmenach distillery in Speyside, is another of the big whisky distillery gins.

Using small batches of pure grain spirit which are triple distilled for smoothness, the gin is created using the distillery’s unique Copper Berry Chamber, which was made in the 1920s.

It is infused with five Celtic botanicals (including Coul Blush Apple and Bog Myrtle), six traditional botanicals and Scottish spring water.

To find out more, tours are available Monday to Thursday at 11am and 2pm and Friday at 10am. Visitors will get an insight into the artisan production process with the behind-the scenes element before enjoying a tutored nosing and tasting session.

Finish with a refreshing Caorunn gin and tonic.

Tour and price

Caorunn tour: £10

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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