Gin of the month: December

Oh, hello December!

It’s dark outside, and you cannot go near a shop without hearing Christmas songs blaring out and you are still in denial that it is that time of year AGAIN! Well we have the solution for you: a cosy night in with Rock Rose Autumn Edition and crack open the cheeseboard you bought in preparation for Christmas Day!

Rock Rose Gin is a firm favourite in our house.  During the summer, we went on a Gin Distillery tour/ holiday to the north of Scotland. We had the opportunity to tour the Dunnet Bay Distillers and find out all about their production. We had a great time and there was lots to learn. If you’re up that way - actually, even if you’re not - we certainly recommend a visit!

Dunnet Bay is the most northerly point of mainland UK, a few miles along the road from John O’Groats. The thing with being so remote is that the distillers have to rely on botanicals that are local to them and so this is why they are making seasonal gins, Summer, Spring, Winter and now their latest addition Autumn. These are available alongside the original Rock Rose and Holy Grass Vodka. All of which are wonderful and worth a try and have as unique and distinct differences, like the seasons they are named after. Dunnet Bay Distillers is a family business, headed up by husband and wife team Martin and Claire, although all of the family pitch in.. which is something we love!

The Rock Rose Autumn Edition features botanicals such as blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, which are all sourced locally as well as the distillers own grown Nastirum and Vietnamese coriander which is grown in their Geodome. They describe it as having limited the citrus notes that are found in the original Rock Rose to allow for the sweet berry flavours and the spice from the coriander to come through. It is hard to put a label on the taste to be honest, there is a spicy sweetness to the gin, albeit not too spicy. It is a crisp and fresh gin but with a complex flavouring.  The bulk of the flavour comes from the original gin but with less citrus the other flavours also come out.

In terms of serve we have been enjoying it with some berries. Obviously we are out of season at the moment so frozen berries work just as well as fresh. A few raspberries or blueberries work if you like the fruity sweetness. We love it with a Mediterranean tonic as that brings the flavours out and adds a little more sweetness. The distiller also recommends adding basil to the gin too which complement the the sweet berries to give the taste a deeper flavour.  This is probably why the herby Mediterranean tonic works well with the gin too - helping give the sweet berries something to contrast with. We also loved the gin mixed with Bon Accord Rhubarb Soda and is a delicious alternative to tonic!

The Rock Rose bottle is also a beautiful bottle and is definitely one that can be upcycled after you finish the gin. There are so many different uses for empty gin bottles, including soap dispensers (which are so simple to do!) and gin lamps (which are a bit more complex to make). Each bottle has a distinct colour scheme to represent the seasons. We also love the fact that each bottle is hand waxed in the distillery. In fact when we visited in July, Michael got to try his hand at waxing a bottle.

The gin is very warming which is just what you need at this time of year. It can be sipped neat, as you would a whisky. However we do highly recommend a Hot Toddy, warm up some apple juice, put a generous measure of Rock Rose in it and a cinnamon stick. It is essentially Christmas in a mug!