Ever wondered about the process involved in making your favourite gin? Well now you can find out more, thanks to the fascinating gin garden tours, which have been launched in Edinburgh, courtesy of the Old Curiosity Distillery, based at the Secret Herb Garden.
If you’re looking for a place of sanctuary, (especially if you’ve been battling the aisles of nearby Ikea), head out to the Secret Herb Garden on the edge of the Pentlands. Discover specialist herbs, explore the wild seven-and-a-half acre gardens, relax with a cup of coffee in the cafe, take in the stunning views and admire the plants and now, you can even take in a tour of the gardens and learn more about the process of what goes into making The Secret Garden gins with its Garden Tours.
The unique tours allow visitors to walk around the UK’s first and only pure working gin botanical garden. Gin enthusiasts can experience the tranquillity of the garden; see, smell and touch the growing botanicals; visit the drying room; witness the still in action (although it was out of action on the day I visited as they were re-plastering the floor) and finally, enjoy a glass of the good stuff from the comfort of their cosy new Gin Lounge, which can also be rented out as an event space.
I’ve long be a fan of the power of plants (although as anyone knows I’m a hopeless gardener) and one of my treasured books is The Fragrant Pharmacy – A Complete Guide to Aromatherapy & Essential Oils by Valerie Ann Worwood. So, it was fascinating to be given the tour by The Old Curiosity founder and renowned Scottish herbologist, Hamish Martin, who shared his passion and knowledge and explained what goes into making his range of Secret Garden Gins and the other Old Curiosity Gins, which miraculously and naturally change colour with the addition of tonic, thanks to the power of nature.
Visitors are shown the full process, from hand-picking and drying the flowers to the entire distillation process. The tour concludes with a tasting of the entire Secret Garden Range and learning about the curious and delicious gins and their fascinating colour-changing qualities.
Hamish comments: “This is an entirely unique offering. Nowhere else in the world has a gin garden and distillery on site as we do here. We’re incredibly proud to say that we grow and pick our own botanicals before drying and distilling them to perfection, to obtain that distinctive natural flavour and unbelievable colour change. It’s incredible to see nature in action!
With over 1000 juniper bushes, 500 herbs and floral varieties such as scented lemon verbena, geraniums, irises and roses, the Gin Garden is a special tribute to Mother Nature and a feast for the senses. I for one, can’t wait to see the rose garden in bloom, which was being created when I visited.
Tours are available to book every Saturday and Sunday at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. From 1 June – 21 September, a tour will also be available at 1pm on a Thursday and Friday. Tickets are available from The Old Curiosity website and cost £15 per person, which includes a full tour of the garden and distillery, and a tasting of the Secret Garden Range in the Gin Lounge.
The Secret Garden Range currently includes Apothecary Rose; Lavender & Echinacea and Chamomile & Cornflower. All three offer subtle and elegant flavours and change colour when tonic is added. Two new gins are being introduced to the range in 2019.
The Old Curiosity Distillery can be found at the Secret Herb Garden on the Old Pentland Road, Edinburgh.
Photographs: Credit: Lisa Ferguson