Scottish glassmaker to revive Victorian pig-shaped gin decanters

Scottish glass manufacturer Angels’ Share Glass has designed a pig-shaped jug after drawing inspiration from the story of the ‘gin pigs’ which reside at Brodie Castle in Moray.

One of Brodie Castle’s gin pigs (or dogs!) Image: National Trust for Scotland

The family-owned glass firm is drawing on a rather unusual element in gin’s history. Wealthy Victorian households often possessed a variety of bespoke decanters, each holding a different type of alcohol.

While many people will be familiar with wine ewers, claret jugs and glass whisky decanters, a ‘gin pig’ is perhaps lesser known.

Two such creatures reside at Brodie Castle, the ancestral home of Clan Brodie, which is now owned and managed by National Trust for Scotland.

One of the hand-blown jugs still has its silver stopper which doubles up as the pig’s nose. According to its hallmark, the vessel was made in London in 1903 by ‘PLB&Co’.

Karen Somerville, managing director of Angels’ Share Glass, saw the decanters on a visit to the property and was inspired to recreate them.

She said: “I’m a member of the National Trust for Scotland and after reading about the pigs online and visiting the castle, I was keen to resurrect the story.

An Angels’ Share Glass gin pig

“My dad Tom developed some prototypes and from there we came up with a lovely design which will be sold exclusively through our online shop.

“There’s been a real revival of gin recently, particularly in Scotland where so many craft gins are being made, and I think our pigs will be a great novelty product for everyone who enjoys a glass of gin.

“They are a great talking point and make a lovely centrepiece for any table”.

While in the UK, the vessels are referred to as ‘gin pigs,’ on the continent they are known as either fyldehund (fill the dog) or schnappshund (schnapps dog) where they appear to be modelled on a dachshund. It seems, therefore, that the gin pigs at Brodie Castle are in fact glass dogs and have been misnamed.

Designed by Tom Young MBE, the Angels’ Share Glass pigs are re-fillable and are handmade in the company’s Bridge of Allan studio. They are available to buy via the Angels’ Share Glass website priced at £29.95.

Young added: “It’s funny how life comes full circle – one of my first designs was a lucky glass pig with a halfpenny inside which I made for a charity event back in 1974.

“Now, decades later, I’ve been able to put those early skills to good use designing a pig which can hold a measure of gin instead of a halfpenny.

“It’s amazing to see how fashions come around again and hopefully today’s gin-lovers will enjoy using our jugs to pour their gin as much as people did back in the Victorian era”.

The gin pigs will be filled with a Scottish gin, but a spokesperson for the company told db that they are not limiting it to one brand.

Angels’ Share Glass is also working on a salt pig which will contain a “specially-made whisky salt”.

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