Echoes is often asked to go along to events to write reports, take photos, etc. That has taken a bit of a back seat recently as there are fewer events, but when we were asked to take part in the latest ‘Big Five’ Gin Tasting we didn’t need asked twice. Especially as the Big Five represented were all Lanarkshire Gin companies.
With shops and businesses closed, many are trying different business models and Jaro Design is no exception. Our gin kit arrived, delivered personally by Janet Cathro of Jaro Design, and at 8pm sharp Morag and I joined the scheduled Zoom meeting to meet over ninety other people taking part on over fifty separate screens from all over Scotland and one all the way from London. We also had Rosalind from ‘The Scotsman’ involved. There were two couples celebrating wedding anniversaries and several birthdays.
After introductions from Janet, we were straight into a talk from Colin McLean of Strathaven gin makers, McLeans Gin. Colin explained the background to how the company was founded, having started after he was given a gin making kit as a present. From a cupboard in their flat in Battlefield to a purpose-built gin lab near Strathaven, Colin and wife Jess have now sold almost 10,000 bottles of gin. The gin supplied for the tasting was ‘Something Blue’, thought to be the world’s only wedding gin. It was paired with an appropriate tonic and recommended garnishes. Needless to say it was great.
The second speaker was Jenny, from the Wee Farm Distillery at Climpy. In addition to making gin on the farm, they are first generation farmers, having moved in four years ago. In addition to its ‘Clydesdale Gin’ (which was also lovely), the distillery used its thirty litre still to produce ‘Drovers Gin’, a charity edition for Doddie Weir. They also make a wide variety of gin liqueurs.
Phil from Pentland Hills Gin (which was one of the companies booked for the Glassford Beer and Gin Festival) spoke next, filmed by wife Tabatha and accompanied by Chief Executive, Panza the Chocolate Labrador. Phil explained the company philosophy of sustainability, with recyclable bottles that customers return to be refilled. Again the gin paired with a recommended tonic was lovely.
Stuart from Biggar Gin (Smaller gin, Biggar mentality) was up next, explaining that he founded the company with his brother after leaving a career in IT (smart move) and that it has moved on from using Calpol syringes to running a 100l still producing 100 bottles at a time. Its London Dry Gin took first prize in the first competition the company entered.
Lastly, Lawrence from Chapelton company, Inspirited explained how they produce individual bottles of gin to a customer’s specific taste, based on a range of botanicals available. All bottles come with a small bag of the botanicals used.
All in, the tasting was a fantastic experience lasting about ninety minutes and we would highly recommend it. It was educational, sociable and informative, and best of all, involved drinking some gin.