Anyone who knows me knows I’m a massive fan of Scottish gins. Having two Glaswegian parents and four Scottish grandparents I will always describe myself as Scottish…despite the fact that I was born in England, technically I’m full of Scots blood, right? My gin collection is filled with a very large number of gins from north of the border and that number is only going to keep going up!
As an official supporter of International Scottish Gin Day (ISGD) 2020 I have connected with a couple of distilleries, one which I was already a massive fan of, and another which was new to me. This write up is all about the gorgeous Wild Island Gin!
“Lets make gin!” A brilliant idea, formed after a few drinks in the local pub. Well, that sentence certainly captured my attention and that’s pretty much how the Wild Island Gin journey began.
Wild Island Gin hails from Colonsay, located two and a quarter hours by ferry from the mainland, this tiny and remote island boasts sandy beaches, towering cliffs, stunning scenery, approximately 130 people and some pretty fabulous gins!
Cononsay Beverages launched in 2007 and initially focused on brewing beers. Inspired by local botanicals on the island they decided to branch out and explore the gin industry. Knowing nothing about gin the directors enlisted the help of Rob Dorset of Langley Distillery in the midlands. Who, after studying what botanicals were available on the island, came up with an original recipe. Wild Island Gin is contract distilled at Langley Distillery, this is largely down to the logistics and cost of setting up a fully established distillery on an island. Taking into account transportation of raw materials, hefty freight charges not to mention the unpredictable weather, it makes complete sense that the core expression continues to be made at Langley, where it can be produced in much greater volumes. To ensure the heart of Colonsay still remains in their gin, native plants are gathered from the island during the spring and summer months to be used in combination with other more exotic botanicals. The local botanicals which are used include bog myrtle, heather flowers, lemon balm, meadowsweet, sea buckthorn and wild water mint.
Excitingly, in 2017, on the island itself, brewer turned distiller Chris started his own ginny experiments using a small glass still and different botanicals which he found around the island. Working closely with Rob, they have created a seasonal botanical series “Distiller’s Cut” which is distilled on the island, making the first legal gin on the Isle of Colonsay for over 100 years.
Wild Island Gin have several different expressions available to buy online, apparently their Redcurrant Gin is particularly fabulous and even won a silver medal at the International Spirits Challenge. I was lucky enough to be sent through a bottle of the Distiller’s Cut and oh my goodness! I actually ran through from my kitchen to the lounge to get Hubby to taste it…he was drinking some kind of special beer so declined at the time, but did have a splash the next day.
This London Dry style gin really is right up my street. Created using 17 botanicals, it is smooth and creamy with a deliciously warming spice to finish. I am genuinely so incredibly impressed by this gin and I really can’t see the bottle lasting me very long at all…apparently it makes a pretty cracking Southside too, so I know what I’m going to be drinking later!
The bottle itself is just as beautiful as the contents. The bell shaped glass is decorated in an eye-catching watercolour design, which depicts the stunning colours and contours of Kiloran Bay.
(Photo Credit: Colonsay Beverages)
When I was chatting to Hannah, who has worked for Wild Island Gin since 2016, I asked what the future had in store for Colonsay Beverages.
“The plan for the future is really to keep going in the same direction, making as much as we can on island and investing in the community for the long term. The dream would be to eventually make our own whisky but I fear corona might have delayed those plans somewhat.”
So, the long and short of it is go and buy a bottle! This really is a wonderful gin and I’m certainly going to add their other expressions to my wish list. A huge thank you to Hannah for taking the time to catch up with me and also for giving me the opportunity to try this gin by gifting me a bottle.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL SCOTTISH GIN DAY!