In summer 2018, one of Speyside's most popular whisky distilleries launched its own small-batch London Dry style gin, and just over a year later open the doors to the public.

Red Door gin is named after the distinctive red doors at Benromach Distillery and is, according to the team, inspired by Scotland’s mountains, forests and coastal fringes and marks a “new chapter in the distillery’s proud history”.

With seasonal tours launched in August 2019, what can gin (and whisky) fans expect when visiting the  distillery, which is located close to the Romach hills in the picturesque town of Forres?

As this is the region’s first single site gin and whisky distillery, it’s a great excuse to make a day of it and find out more about Benromach whisky and Red Door gin.

Benromach distillery tour

Picture: Benromach Distillery

Visitors can start the day with a gin or whisky tour, but as the Benromach tours start from an hour for the Classic Tour, 90 minutes for the Contrast Tour and two hours for the Heritage Tour, we recommend starting at the beginning – with the whisky.

Benromach distillery uses much of the same processes it did when it was first founded in 1898, and has a relatively small team in comparison to neighbouring distilleries.

Each tour will start with a short film detailing the history of the distillery, which was bought and revitalised by Elgin based Gordon and MacPhail in 1993.

After the film, the tour then involves a leisurely walk around the distillery following each stage of the whisky production process from the wash backs to filling the casks.

Then, after a visit to the warehouse, the tours end with a guided tasting.

The tours

The Classic Tour

A guided walk around the distillery, followed by a tasting of the award-winning Benromach 10 and 15 Year Old whiskies.

Availability: April – October – every 30 minutes during opening hours. November – March – at 10.30am, 12noon, 1.30pm and 3pm only.

£8 Per person

Booking for this tour is recommended, but not always essential.

The Contrast Tour

The tour around the distillery is followed by an exploration of contrasting Benromach whisky expressions.

Availability: April-October at 10am, 12 noon & 2pm during operating hours. Nov-Mar – by appointment only at 10.30am or 1.30pm during operating hours.

Booking is essential.

£20 per person.

The Heritage Tour

This, the longest tour, involves a walk through the production processes and ends with a tasting of the Benromach whisky range in a cosy tasting room.

Availability and booking: Tour by appointment only, for a minimum of two people, during operating hours.

Cost: £60 per person.

The Red Door Gin distillery

Red Door Gin

Picture: Red Door Gin

After a tour of the distillery’s whisky history, it’s time to head over to the latest addition for a G&T or two.

Located behind one of the red doors, the distillery and experience is situated in one room, which houses the copper gin still, an interactive botanicals station and a gin bar.

What makes this distillery a bit different from other gins is that it uses a vapour-infused distilling method that steams the neutral base spirit through eight botanicals before being bottled at 45% ABV.

Speaking at the launch of the gin, Ewen Mackintosh, Benromach’s managing director said: “By creating a gin distillery and visitor experience, we are investing significantly in the town.

“We’re proud of our role in the local community and the part we continue to play in attracting visitors to Forres. We hope this will bring a further boost to tourism in the local area.”

What to expect

The one hour tour brings the distillation process to life while introducing guests to “Peggy” (named for Peggy Urquhart, wife of George Urquhart who was from the second generation of the family owners of Gordon and MacPhail) – the small copper pot still where every batch of Red Door Gin is carefully handmade by the on-site team.

After learning about the gin and distillation, visitors are invited to test their knowledge by getting to grips with the botanicals found in the gin.

Each of the botanicals are available to see, smell and touch and, after trying some of the gin neat, visitors will be asked to plot out how much of each feature in the gin.

The person that guesses correctly – or as close to the actual recipe as possible – can take home a sample of Red Door gin and a premium tonic.

After the botanical visitors can make their way to the Red Door Gin bar to sample the perfect Red Door G&T or signature cocktail.

Lizzie Haw, Red Door Gin’s flavour expert, said: “We’re immensely proud of our handcrafted Highland gin and are thrilled to – literally – throw open the red door and give gin fans the chance to see the distillery in action, while sampling the best we have to offer.

“We’ve worked with an incredible team to bring the Red Door Gin visitor experience to life and look forward to giving visitors a chance to learn about our handcrafted gin, while boosting the tourist offering in the Speyside region.”

The tour

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 with tours taking place at 10:30, 13:00 and 14:30 every Tuesday to Saturday.

With only eight places per tour, guests are encouraged to book early and book in advance by calling 01309 675 968.

• Further information is available here.

About The Author

Rosalind Erskine

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.

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