Dunnet Bay Gin Distillery Tour

Dunnet Bay Gin Distillery Tour

Dunnet Bay Gin Distillery Tour

When we rocked up at Dunnet Bay Gin Distillery, we had no idea what to expect. It had been marked as one of the many sights along the North Coast 500 in the Scottish Highlands and we’d been intrigued by the fact that it was a distilling gin rather than whiskey. There were plenty of whiskey distilleries along route and, whilst I’d have probably still been interested in having a mosey around; neither of us are bothered about whiskey. At least I’d been known to drink the occasional gin.

We stopped on a bit of whim, not really knowing if we were just going to have a nose in the shop and be on our way or if there would be more. Nose around the shop we did, totally falling in love with the bottles of Rose Rock gin (omg so pretty). We asked the guy behind the counter if they did tours and, whaddya know, they did. So we signed ourselves up for the 2pm tour and came back in the afternoon.

The tour started in a beautifully decorated room with a long table and cute sofas. Every one got a gin and tonic (or ginger beer for the designated drivers – cheers G, you’re a hero) in the most beautiful gin glasses. They were official Rose Rock Gin glasses but the branding was subtle and the pattern really pretty and intricate. We’d already seen these glasses in the shop and ogled over them but we now decided that we were going to be buying some before we left. The gin was served with fever tree tonic, and we were given the option of orange peel or rosemary to go with; I went for the orange peel. After just a couple of sips, I was pretty convinced that this was the nicest gin I’d ever had (not that I’ve tried many gins tbf). It had a lovely citrussy vibe going on and, even though I swear I was only taking little sips, it seemed to disappear veeeery quickly.

Dunnet Bay Gin Distillery Tour

Dunnet Bay Gin Distillery Tour

Whilst we drank, our tour guide told us about the history of the relatively new distillery. It was set up in 2014 by Claire and Martin, a couple local to the area who were keen on gin and had always dreamt of owning their own distillery. It took them 55 attempts to perfect the recipe for their Rose Rock Gin and the majority of the ingredients are sourced locally if I remember correctly – many of them come with old myths including protecting you against colds, giving you extra strength and warding off ghosts and goulies! Might not be true, but no harm in drinking the gin anyway, you know, just in case….

Since their original recipe was such a success, they’ve made the navy strength version (57%) as well as a different edition for spring, summer, autumn and winter. They also do a vodka because the key ingredient, holy grass, wouldn’t work in a gin. We were taught all about the different ingredients and flavours, as well as having a chance to look at the individual bottles – all beautifully decorated.

We then went into the distilling area and saw the bespoke pot still, Elizabeth, which had been specifically designed just to create Rose Rock Gin and uses a traditional handmade copper head and botanical vapour basket. We got the chance to hold the basket – surprisingly heavy! We learnt how the gin is made and shown how the bottles are cleaned, filled and sealed with wax – all done by hand! I loved the home-made feel to it all.

Dunnet Bay Gin Distillery Tour

Dunnet Bay Gin Distillery Tour

Dunnet Bay Gin Distillery Tour

After this, we headed back to the main room for a tasting session around the big table. We had the chance to try the summer season gin, the winter season gin and the holy grass vodka. For each spirit, we were taught how to properly smell them, then we tasted them neat and then we added rosemary to the summer gin, apple to the winter gin and basil to the vodka – and tonic to taste. Both the summer and winter gins were really nice (I particularly like the earthy, berry vibe of the winter) but it was actually the vodka that I enjoyed the most. My experience of vodka starts and ends with a £6 bottle of Sainsbury’s own brand accompanied by cheap lemonade back in my student days and it’s for that reason, I’ve never really gone any further in my vodka journey. But I was taken by complete surprise by the holy grass vodka. It had this gorgeous creamy vanilla flavour and I was genuinely disappointed not to have an entire glass of the stuff in front of me!

The tour finished with a goodie bag which included a mini bottle of original Rose Rock gin and some fever tree tonic.

All of this for £12pp!

We were flying home so couldn’t buy anything in the shop but I made a pretty hefty online order from my phone on the way out and there was a bottle of original gin, holy grass vodka and two of the gin glasses waiting for us when we got home.

As will come as surprise to absolutely no body, our goodie bags didn’t make it until the next morning. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of G&T at our accommodation for the evening, sat out in the sun with an ocean view. We also kept an eye out in pubs and bars for the remainder of the trip – enjoying several large glasses (cough buckets cough) on our last night in Inverness.

Dunnet Bay Distillery was definitely one of the highlights of our trip; if you’re ever that far north, I would 100% recommend.

Dunnet Bay Gin Distillery Tour

Dunnet Bay Gin Distillery Tour


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