Following centuries of illicit distilling, the first legal distillery on the Isle of Raasay in the northwest of Scotland finally began distilling legally in September 2017. The distillery’s goal being to create the finest Hebridean single malt Scotch whisky coupled with a fantastic destination to come visit and experience whisky first-hand.
However, as well as distilling fine Scotch whisky, which will make history next year with the launch of their inaugural Isle of Raasay Single Malt, the distillery has just launched their first handcrafted Hebridean gin – the Isle of Raasay Gin – which combines ten botanicals, including Raasay juniper and their special triple distilled spirit. This gives what can only be described as a complex but well-balanced, zesty dry gin with a lasting aftertaste which encapsulates Raasay’s style, character and geological variety.
However, before I go into more detail about this exciting new gin, let’s talk a little bit about the Isle of Raasay Distillery, which is located in the Inner Hebrides between the Isle of Skye and Scotland’s mainland, and provides the distillery with the local ingredients it needs in order to create the perfect gin.
The distillery itself is owned by independent drinks company R & B Distillers Limited that was co-founded by Scottish entrepreneurs Bill Dobbie and Alasdair Day and since it opened its doors to the public last January, has hosted a calendar of live ‘Raasay Tunes’ music events, as well as traditional Burns Night suppers.
And so on to a few tasting notes for the Isle of Raasay Gin, which incorporates each of the following Raasay and traditional botanicals: juniper berries, rhubarb root, lemon peel, orange peel, coriander seeds, angelica root, liquorice root, orris root, cubeb pepper and triple distilled Raasay spirit. Local botanist Dr Stephen Bungard and Herriot Watt University have also provided their support in the distilling process.
The nose is fresh and aromatic, with juniper, citrus and a hint of rhubarb. The palate is dry with a burst of juniper, orange and a richer rhubarb note whilst there is a dry and zesty finish. It is best served with orange zest strips and made for mixing in traditional G&Ts using Fever-Tree’s Premium Indian Tonic, or of course in your favourite cocktail.
Isle of Raasay Distillery co-founder Alasdair Day commented: “Our new Isle of Raasay Gin puts island quality first – combining carefully chosen botanicals with water from our well and triple distilled Raasay spirit.”
“Raasay’s remarkable geology and our modern island distillery inspired both the creation and presentation of our exciting new Scottish gin that we look forward to sharing with the growing number of visitors to Raasay and gin lovers alike.”
Isle of Raasay Gin has also teamed up with London’s botanical bar, Bourne & Hollingsworth in Farringdon, to create a Hebridean-inflected autumnal cocktail. The Isle of Autumn celebrates produce from the last of the sunny days of summer with the bitterness of winter and combines Raasay Gin, Creme de Coing, Creme de Cassis, Elderflower Cordial, Lemon Juice with a dash of Rhubarb Bitters. This special autumnal cocktail balances the sweetness of summer with the sharpness of autumnal blackcurrants, drawing out the natural botanicals of the gin, creating a fresh and aromatic drink, perfect to enjoy as the evenings draw in and winter approaches.
If you’d like to mix a cocktail in the comfort of your own home, then a 70cl bottle Isle of Raasay Gin can be purchased for £35 for from the distillery shop on Raasay or online at www.raasaydistillery.com. Future new stockist will be listed here.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of the Isle of Raasay Distillery, taken by Calum Gillies