Gin of the Month: May
This month’s gin is one of our ‘local’ exports, Fidra gin. Coming from Ballencrieff and named after the island of Fidra. Fidra is a small island in the Firth of Forth that is home to puffins and a working lighthouse and is said to be the inspiration to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and more recently, to Jo and Emma for their beautiful coastal gin.
Initially on the nose you are hit with the scent of the sea - the salty air and the distinctive seaweed. However, afterwards you start to smell the citrus floral notes of the lemon thyme. The distillers have managed to capture the scene of sitting on the beautiful beaches of East Lothian and looking out the Isle of Fidra. Combine this seascape with the sand dunes and hedgerows around the coast you have a perfect foraging ground for botanicals - including rosehip, sea buckthorn and lemon thyme.
The gin was launched in September 2018, after friends Jo and Emma were inspired by the story of Lussa Gin. A group of friends who love gin, being inspired to make their own. I love this, because we often after a few gins have ideas about starting our own distillery and we completely love how Jo and Emma took that idea and made it happen. They started off with a 5 litre still, Sadie, in the winter of 2017 and perfected their recipe by a combination of trial and error and enlisting help from more experienced distillers along the way. Although they do not have their own premises yet, this is something that is due to happen and Fidra Gin will be made and bottled in East Lothian soon - which is so exciting!
On tasting the gin, we think it is a truly distinct flavour. You can taste the seaweed initially but then the sweet and floral rosehip and elderflower and the citrus, herby thyme and lemon thyme start to come through. It is a smooth tasting gin and is palatable neat. It is the type of ‘magic’ gin that depending on your palate the flavours you enjoy will come out more.
For a recommended serve, we tried it with Mediterranean tonic, a slice of pink grapefruit and a sprig of lemon thyme. We think this brings out all the flavours of the gin and make it taste so refreshing, smooth and balanced. If you are thinking lemon thyme is a fancy sounding garnish, you can pick up a plant in the garden centre, plant it in your garden or a pot and it seems to take care of itself. It is an excellent garnish for citrus or herby gins and a nice alternative to ice and a slice.
We cannot write a review without mentioning the beautiful bottle. The bottle is tall and slim, very much reminds us of a bottle you may find washed up on the shore with a message scrolled up in it. The bottle has a nautical map of the Isle of Fidra, which links again back to Robert Louis Stevenson. His father and uncle were world renowned lighthouse designers and built the lighthouse on the island. This is where Stevenson’s fascination with the island started and we like how this is reflected in the bottle.
Overall, Fidra is a must try gin. It is a great tasting gin, a lovely story behind it and if you listen close enough you may even hear the sound of the ocean as you drink it.