Our bar manager Jamie makes an annual trip to the Edinburgh festival, and this year he stumbled across a distinctive gin made by a new Scottish social distillery on the Isle of Harris. He came back singing its praises and since Jamie knows his onions, we decided to seek it out.
Isle of Harris Gin uses 9 botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica Root, Orris Root, Cubeb, Bitter Orange Peel, Liquorice, Cassia Bark and locally sourced Sugar Kelp. There are a few gins that use maritime botanicals and so we were curious how this gin would hold up. When it arrived we were immediately impressed by the bottle: a beautiful, bespoke blue twist which evokes the sea, with a heavy solid base, much like a chunky premium whiskey tumbler. So do the contents live up to the packaging?
The nose is bold, heady and vibrant, singing out from the glass like a sirens call. Lavender floral juniper in the top notes with a savoury, herbal undertow.
Tasted neat the lead is a strong floral and piney juniper. This is quickly followed by dry spice almost like fresh nutmeg (this must be a combination of the citrus peel and cassia) rounding out in the linger to a full sweetness with grapefruit notes.
With tonic the nose stays strong and the ‘sea-ness’ comes through. What is most interesting is that the flavour profile reverses. Sweet fruit leads with an underlying scaffold of savoury herbal notes. The gin becomes creamy, with a clean peely citrus-bitter linger with pepper sparkling like the sun on wet shingle.
The distiller set out to capture the elemental and maritime nature of the Isle of Harris and this gin, from the bottle to the glass, does just that. A genuine sweet-savoury gin, which is quite rare if not unique. Enjoyable on the rocks as well as making a damn fine gin and tonic which works well with grapefruit peel garnish. You can find it on our new autumn / winter menu. We raise our glass to the Isle of Harris Distillery.