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Kirsty’s Gin taps into local botanicals

A Scottish distillery has produced what it claims is the country’s first single estate gin, based on local ingredients in a “farm-to-bottle” approach.

Kirsty Black, master distiller at Arbikie, with her eponymous gin

Arbikie Estate in Angus on the east coast of Scotland has named the new expression after its master distiller, Kirsty Black, who has spent the last two years developing the gin.

Distilled from Arbikie’s own potato vodka, Kirsty’s Gin builds on a juniper base with kelp, carline thistle and blaeberries (also known as bilberries). Although the challenge of growing juniper in Scotland means that this is sourced elsewhere, the three other botanicals all grow wild locally.

The 2,000-acre estate revived its 18th century distilling history with the launch of a new facility in 2014, and has already used the copper pot still to create first vodka then whisky, although the latter is currently maturing prior to release.

With gin as a category enjoying considerable international growth at the moment, a number of distilleries are seeking a point of difference through their focus on locally sourced raw materials.

A distillery on the Isle of Harris is about to release a gin flavoured with the sugar kelp from around its shores and Bruichladdich’s gin The Botanist is made from 22 botanicals found on its native Islay.

South of the border, the Cotswolds Distillery launched last year, producing an English whisky made from Cotswold organic barley and a gin that incorporates locally farmed lavender.

It’s not just the gin category adopting this approach: both Kilchoman on Islay and Ballindalloch, a recent addition to the Speyside scene, pride themselves on either growing their own barley or buying it nearby to create their whiskies.

The Arbikie team described Kirsty’s Gin as having “a comparable quality and depth to Scotch”, recommending the RRP £35 product not only for cocktails but to be served neat over ice.

Introducing her new gin, Black paid tribute to Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Botanics and the Forfar Botanists for helping her to create “something truly unique with a particular focus on Scottish botanicals, inspired by the environment of the distillery and the Angus region.”

Distributed across the UK by Gordon & MacPhail, Kirsty’s Gin is also available to UK customers direct from the distiller’s website.

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