Popular gin brand Darnley's launches a new smokey gin

A popular gin brand that is based in St Andrews has launched an exciting new limited edition smokey gin. 

Published 2nd Oct 2019
Updated 18 th Sep 2023

Darnley's Gin has announced the launch of ‘Smoke and Zest', the second release in their limited edition Cottage Series range, with each bottle in the series tells a different story of the botanicals found around their Fife distillery and beyond.

Made in the London Dry style, Darnley's Gin distiller Scott Gowans experimented with various methods and collaborated with both his family - who own a commercial smoker - and the Kingsbarns Distillery team to bring this flavour profile to life.

The new Darnley's recipe celebrates the Fife grown barley that has been selected for sister brand Kingsbarns Single Malt Whisky which is distilled in the same location, at East Newhall Farm, outside the village of Kingsbarns.

Darnley's Smokey Gin

Scott enlisted the help of his family to steep and slowly smoke the malted barley over pine wood chips.

The distiller said that the introduction of Lapsang Souchong tea, also traditionally smoked over pine wood, brings an exotic second smoky botanical into the recipe with cool menthol notes.

Rowanberry and coriander from the distillery grounds and orange peel from Turkey then lend the gin its sweet and zesty flavour.

Scott said: "Creating a smoky gin has been an exciting development project and for this second Cottage Series release, I was again inspired by botanicals found around the distillery.

"Orange peel and Rowanberry were the starting point for Smoke & Zest, the latter is also known as Mountain Ash so it inspired me to explore matching the zesty citrus with smoke notes.

"Taking cues from Lapsang Souchong tea production, I experimented by smoking Fife grown barley over pine wood chips. Barley fields surround the distillery and my colleagues prize this local produce to make Kingsbarns Single Malt whisky.

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"The finished gin is unusual but very approachable and still has juniper at its heart. It's an amazing marriage of orange and zest flavours up front, with a malty character and a smoke intensity that grows over time."

Initially developed on a mini still in the Darnley's Gin Cottage, the recipe was scaled up for full distillation using a combination of traditional distillation and vapour infusion.

The signature botanicals, smoked barley and Lapsang Souchong tea, are measured into a muslin bag and placed in the vapour basket above the pot still holding the neutral grain spirit and the other five botanicals: juniper, angelica, coriander, rowanberry and orange peel.

The vapour infusion allows the delicate smoky flavours to be embedded in the spirit.

Darnley's family owner, William Wemyss added: "Scott's botanical research into rowanberry was serendipitous as creating a smoky gin has been on our wish list for quite some time.

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"Using a smoked version of the key ingredient in creating our single malt whisky as a signature botanical in our Cottage Series release ‘Smoke and Zest', brings those two worlds together in the most unique way".

Just 2,400 bottles of the 42.5% abv Darnley's Gin ‘Smoke and Zest' have been produced, with each priced at £29.95 for 50cl and  available to buy from the Darnley's Gin Distillery and online shop.

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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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