Limited edition Up Helly Aa Shetland gin launched 

The new limited edition Up Helly Aa gin has been produced by the makers of the award-winning Shetland Reel Gin.

Published 19th Jan 2016
Updated 31 st Oct 2023

Bottles have already been presented to each member of the Lerwick Up Helly Aa committee. This year’s Guizer Jarl, Mark Evans, thanked the company for the gift.The Navy strength gin (57% ABV or 100° proof) comes in 20cl bottles which are now on sale around the islands for £17 each.

"We came up with the idea of a special limited edition to celebrate the fire festival with a bit of extra spirit."

The gin, distilled and bottled by The Shetland Distillery Company in Unst, has a light straw colour from having been aged in former whisky casks.

Shetland Distillery Company director Debbie Strang said: “Up Helly Aa is a huge event and plays a significant role in how Shetland projects itself to the outside world.

“So we came up with the idea of a special limited edition to celebrate the fire festival with a bit of extra spirit.

“We are grateful to the Lerwick Up Helly Aa committee for their support and would like to wish Guizer Jarl Mark Evans and his squad every success.”

The term Navy strength has its origins in the 16th century when sailors were paid in rum rations.

To make sure that rum had not been watered down, it was doused in gunpowder. If the gunpowder failed to ignite, the rum contained too much water and it was deemed to be “under proof”.

Gunpowder would not burn in rum with less than 57% ABV, hence the term 100° proof.

As well as Shetland Reel Gin, which won a silver medal at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, The Shetland Distillery Company produces a seaweed gin, Ocean Sent, and a whisky, the Shetland Reel Blended Malt Scotch Whisky.

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The gin has the following attributes:

Colour: Light straw (colour from the wooden cask with anticipation of a whisky influence).

Nose: Very juniper on the nose, with a hint of wood and spices.

Taste: Juniper and citrus but with a spicy depth and very slight wood bitterness. Very well balanced with a satisfying length of flavour.

To serve: It goes well with Fever Tree or Fentimens Tonic.

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