Last December, EdinburghFoody’s Amy took a trip to Callander, to have afternoon tea at The Roman Camp.
Callander and its surrounding areas, such as Loch Katrine also happens to be one of Kerry’s favourite places in the whole of Scotland, for its fantastic views, cycle routes around Loch Venachar and a recent discovery, McQueen Gin.
Launched in 2015 by husband and wife duo Dale and Vicky McQueen, McQueen Gin is a multi award-winning brand that has developed a reputation for creating some of the most innovative flavoured gins available on the market. The brand’s current range of 14 gins includes five world-first flavours; Sweet Citrus, Mocha, Smokey Chilli, Chocolate Mint and the festive inspired Spiced Chocolate Orange. Some of their gins are available at Aldi or from their distillery shop or online.
McQueen Gin – the perfect way to celebrate Hogmanay
I was kindly sent a selection of four bottles to try but as they arrived too close to the festive period when I was heading south and therefore couldn’t transport in my airline luggage, I had to wait until New Year to enjoy, in the company of a few other food influencers, Jess of MyFoodieTales, Jonathan Trew from 5pm and my partners in crime, Derek and Isaac aka The Social Bitches who kindly hosted us all at their beautiful flat at Hogmanay.
Created especially for the festive season, McQueen Gin recently released three new flavours; Black Cherry and Vanilla, Blood Orange and Cranberry (Aldi), and Clementine and Cinnamon, and we made a couple of these into some cocktails in fish-bowl glasses and big ice. We didn’t necessarily have all the garnishes but improvised with what we had in the store cupboard.
We started with a pre-dinner cocktail of Black Cherry and Vanilla. The Black Cherry and Vanilla was purple in colour and had a distinct taste of smooth vanilla with an underlying black cherry flavour. It was like a Black Forest Gateaux in a glass. They recommended using black cherry juice, which we didn’t have to hand so improvised with the addition of some elderflower gin liqueur, as it definitely needed an element of sweetness and decorated it with some pomegranate seeds and some Szechuan pepper. Next time, I’m thinking of using a different mixer – possibly an old-fashioned rose lemonade.
Our favourite was the Blood Orange and Cranberry, which we decorated with an orange-skin rose and a large lump of ice. This gin had a distinct orange colour and the zesty blood orange and cranberry flavours mixed with distinctive juniper notes creating a gin brimming with festive nostalgia.
The orange and cranberry combined to create a warming taste on the palate, and was the perfect accompaniment to my main course of orange and chilli glazed duck, with roasted brussel sprouts, fennel, thyme, carrot and candied walnuts. Thanks to Chef Barry Bryson of Cater, Edinburgh for the inspiration and recipe. I substituted sea-bass for Jess, the pesky pescatarian!
We’ve still to try the other two gins, Clementine and Cinnamon and the Spiced Chocolate Orange but as January is my birthday month and I don’t do Dry January, I have lots of excuses. I’ll report back when I do.
For those that might like to explore McQueen Gin further, they run a distillery tour daily from Monday to Friday from 14:30 to 15:30, which is priced at £15, including a gin tasting. Their distillery shop is open 7 days a week from 10:00 to 17:00. To book a gin tour, call 01877 339929.
Thank you to Isaac Saina of Social Bitches for the photographs