West Coast Ginspiration
Scotland's role in the gin industry is growing, with 70% of gin produced in the UK made in Scotland. The west coast in particular is home to a stellar group of gin producers, making beautiful, popular products which all capitalise on the area's beautiful and pure natural resources. While we can't visit the gin makers on the islands for now, we can still enjoy their product and support their efforts from afar - perhaps even join in on a virtual tour from afar.
In late May, you may have joined in on this year's online Fèis Ìle where the Lussa Gin team - Georgina, Alicia and Claire gave a virtual tour of their distillery on the Isle of Jura. You can still catch up over on Facebook - via the link here. Lussa Gin came to life just 5 years ago after a chance conversation between its three island owners - Alicia MacInnes, Claire Fletcher and Georgina Kitching. The gin is produced using botanicals grown and gathered by hand from Jura's woods, glens, hills and seas before being distilled in Hamish - the team's handcrafted copper still (who you can meet in their online tour).
The Botanist, Islay
Islay is 'Queen of the Hebrides' and a whisky region in its own right. One of their world-famous distilleries - Bruichladdich - is now producing The Botanist and has certainly put the island on the gin map too. The Botanist boasts 22 local hand foraged botanicals, nine berries, barks, seeds and peels. You can catch up on some great cocktail making activities, live music and any Fèis Ìle activities you might have missed via the distillery's social media feed.
Arran Gin is another addition to the incredible food and drink reputation of the Island of Arran. It's a familiar story across the west coast - the product is created by four local people who are passionate about the island's provenance. Yet, thanks to their individual skill, the products are diverse and full of quality. The Arran Gin still is said to be loaded with double the quantities of plants of typical distillations. Last month they released the limited stock of their first batch. You can keep up to date with the journey via their social channels here.
Isle of Harris, Gin
At the other end of our network, on the Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Harris Gin arrived on the scene five years ago. Now award winning, every drop is made in Tarbert on Harris in a gin still named 'The Dottach' - after a local feisty character who once lived in the village. The key ingredient is sugar kelp seaweed, gathered from local sea lochs, sealed in that now recognisable bottle.
Stay connected with the team via their Facebook Page, where each week they share a beautiful Isle of Harris 'pause' film - designed to share the beauty and calm of the island.
The North Uist Distillery Company are the makers of Downpour Gin - distilled and bottled on the island of the same name. It is just over a year since their distillery launched, and the team are sharing snippets of their island life and experiences via their website, including plans for whisky production in the future - the first 'legal' distillery on the island.
Barra Atlantic Gin
The fresh carrageen seaweed foraged on the island gives this gin its unique flavour - the red algae is native to the Atlantic, and is gathered in spring, before being left to dry and 'bleach' in the wind and sun for a few weeks. Barra Atlantic Gin is distilled along with 16 other botanicals responsibly and carefully picked from the shores of Barra. Like the other gin producers of the West, you can stay up to date with the team at this time through their website journal.
Misty Isle Gin
The Isle of Skye Distillers is based in Portree on Skye and is the island's first gin distillery, producing Misty Isle Gin. As you might imagine, provenance is everything in their production - and they use the waters from nearby Storr Loch, hand foraged juniper berries and 10 other local botanicals. The two brothers behind the distillery are passionate about promoting Skye to a wide audience. While their gin school is paused for now, you can keep in touch with their developments via their social media updates from Skye.
Handmade in batches of just 160 bottles, this triple award-winning gin is created on the beautiful island of Colonsay. - taking inspiration from the island and its Celtic Folklore. Find out more here
Wild Island Botanic Gin
Another beautiful product of the tiny island of Colonsay - Wild Island Botanic Gin is created using six native botanicals. Their second offering - the Wild Island Sacred Tree gin is a selection of autumn fruits. The sacred tree element points to the old 'sacred tree' calendar.
Produced by the Tiree Whisky Company, Tyree Gin takes its name from the historical spelling of the island. Their distillery is the first on the island since the early nineteenth century, reviving the island's rich tradition with the spirit industry. Recently, you may have noticed their product feature on the online cocktail and musical sessions with local band Skerryvore. Discover more here
Over on the beautiful Kintyre Peninsula you'll find Kintyre Gin - produced at Beinn An Tuirc distillery. Sustainably produced using renewable energy from the hydro-electric scheme on the estate - from where you can enjoy, in normal times, beautiful views of Arran. More here
Isle of Iona Gin
Think Wild Scottish Juniper, Dulse seaweed - once a nutritious food for crofters, yarrow from the Machair and more - all of this and more in the Isle of Iona Gin, which is designed to taste as refreshing as the island itself. They too have recently featured on Skerryvore's one of a kind music and cocktail sessions. More here
Isle of Raasay Gin
This is officially the first legal spirit from the Isle of Raasay. Award winning, triple distilled, using ten island botanicals - and designed to encapsulate the distillery's style and the island's dramatic geology and character, which lies to the east of the Isle of Skye. While the distillery is obviously closed for tours, you can catch up with the team on their social media channels for a virtual tour here
So, while you may not be able to visit some of the distilleries or island producers for now, we can lend our support in lots of other ways - including staying up to date with their journey. At CalMac we're doing the same through our 'Bringing the Islands to You' updates - you can sign up for more unique content via our newsletter and stay up to date via our social media channels. More at Bringing Islands to you