July 29, 2021

Edinburgh Castle launches first-ever gin in its 900-year history

Edinburgh Castle’s first-ever gin has been launched in collaboration with the award-winning Edinburgh Gin distillery. Inspired by Edinburgh’s rich history of gin and its gorse-clad spring landscape, the small-batch gin is the creation of the caretakers of the 900-year-old castle, Historic Environment Scotland.  

In the 1700s, Edinburgh-born doctor, George Cleghorn, discovered quinine could be used to prevent malaria. A key component in tonic water, the quinine had a bitter taste, but the addition of water, lime, sugar and – crucially – gin made it far more palatable, leading to the birth of the G&T. By 1777, the first ‘gin craze’ had begun and the Scottish capital was right at the heart of it – with eight licensed distilleries and almost 400 unlicensed stills throughout the city.  

Gorse is one of the most eye-catching botanicals found across Edinburgh’s hills and green spaces in spring. Edinburgh Castle Gin is distilled with this vibrant yellow flowering plant at its core, adding a fresh, coconut aroma. 

Pink grapefruit and yuzu bring sweet, tart notes to the London Dry, while bee pollen accentuates the floral flavours of the gorse. On the finish, pink pepper delivers a long-lasting kick of heat.  

Natasha Troitino, Head of Retail & Product Licensing at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “We worked with the award-winning experts on our doorstep, Edinburgh Gin, to create this fresh and fragrant distillation. 

“The medieval poetry, Y Gododdin, talks of warriors drinking mead on Castle Rock before riding into battle. Barrels of ale were even used to help Scots reclaim the castle during a surprise attack in 1341. But in Edinburgh Castle’s long, illustrious history, this is its first-ever gin!” 

Dave Wilkinson, Head Distiller at Edinburgh Gin, said: “The castle is central to Edinburgh’s landscape, and we wanted to create a gin that captured its beauty. Yellow gorse brightens up the city in spring, so it seemed like the perfect botanical to distil for this project. 

“On the palate, you can expect fresh coconut with sharp citrus and a flash of pepper. Best enjoyed on the ‘rocks’ with a dash of tonic!” 

The gin will be served at official events at Edinburgh Castle, as well as being available as a gin flight in the castle’s ‘Queen Anne Tearoom’. The gin will also become house pour at Historic Environment Scotland venues across the country, such as Stirling Castle, and Urquhart Castle. 

Edinburgh Castle Gin (ABV 43% / 70cl / £36) is available from the Edinburgh Castle shops and via the Historic Environment Scotland online store. A 20cl and 5cl bottle are also available.