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Isle of North Uist welcomes its first ever gin

The only legal distillery located on Scotland’s outermost Hebridean islands of Uist has announced the launch of the island’s first ever gin. 

Published: April 25, 2019
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Crafted to "capture the spirit of Hebridean Island life", Downpour is the first release from North Uist Distillery, which is located on the north west of the island.

Described as a "bold-flavoured" premium gin created using Wild Hebridean Heather which has been foraged from across the island, the distillery team say Downpour will be the only Scottish gin on the market to fully embrace the spirit’s natural clouding effect.

The natural result of the ‘downpour’ of essential oils from the botanicals coming out of solution from the alcohol concentration and the temperature dropping in the glass, the gin is clear in the bottle but will go cloudy when it is mixed with tonic and ice.

Distillers call this flavour cloud a "louche", and NUD say that it is an indication of strong, bold flavours.

North Uist Distillery gin

The new distillery was founded and run by Jonny Ingledew, who is head distiller, and Kate MacDonald, creative director, both of whom are North Uist natives who returned to the island with the dream of creating outstanding artisan spirits.

Jonny said: “Downpour has a bold flavour and packs a delicious punch – all of the flavour from the essential oils, we use, including the resulting flavour cloud, has been retained.

"The flavour is bold in taste but the gin is still a classic juniper Scottish dry gin. There is no mistake that it’s a gin and we are very proud of that.

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“Downpour is the first spirit we have produced as North Uist Distillery. We are currently distilling from a small set up on North Uist, but our sights are firmly set on expanding and we hope to reveal our ambitious plans very soon. Downpour is just the beginning of our journey.”

Kate explained that due to the fact they both grew up in Uist, it’s important to them that each bottle is distilled, bottled and labelled on the island to enable the business to have a long-term benefit for people here, she added: "We have been overwhelmed by the encouragement and support we’ve been shown and Uist will be at the heart of all of our decision-making as we develop the distillery.”

Mairi Thomson from Outer Hebrides Tourism said: “We are absolutely delighted so see the launch of the brand new and aptly named 'Downpour' gin from the new North Uist Distillery.

"It is fantastic to see an entrepreneurial young couple going into business and wish them the best success.

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"This is also great news for Uist and indeed the Outer Hebrides. We promote local food and drink through our Eat Drink Hebrides Trail and this is another product in our Atlantic Larder that we can shout about.”

The gin will be priced at £38 per bottle and retailed from the North Uist Distillery website.

Downpour is best served classically with a premium tonic and a citrus twist, built over cubed ice in a hi-ball glass.

Downpour Tasting Notes:

This is a citrus-forward gin with bold spice and a punch of wild Hebridean heather.

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Downpour gin starts with a bold, citrusy fusion of zesty lemon and grapefruit, with sweet, honeyed heather at the forefront. Cassia, clove and orange add warmth, depth and complexity, with balancing floral notes springing from cardamom and coriander seed.

Cubeb berries add a peppery kick and orris and angelica add earthy richness. The strong juniper in this gin holds everything together to form something big, bold and complex with a rounding honeyed heather finish.

Nose: Bright, zesty Lemon, sweet honey. Fresh juniper.

Palate: Sweet, warming spice and orange. Full and complex.

Finish: Deep pepper. Gingerbread and honeyed heather.

Appearance: Clear in the bottle, cloudy in the glass.

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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