Gin has been transformed over the past few years. British distillers have found ways of reinventing the original juniper-based spirit through a whole range of craft gins flavoured with anything from liquorice and cardamom to green tea, honey and exotic fruits. At tonight’s gin-tasting event you can sample different brands and try out some cocktail combinations, under the expert guidance Kate Mcinnes of Lilliard, one of Scotland’s leading gin-makers.
We thought we’d ask Kate a few questions:
Why gin … what’s the attraction for you? I’ve always been a fan. There’s something magical about how each gin is unique. I just love the whole mystery of the botanicals.
How would you describe Lilliard gin? A classic dry gin, with a contemporary floral twist. We aim to evoke the fragrant valleys of the southern Borders in mid-summer.
How important is this sense of place to the end product? Essential. Gin is uniquely placed to create a picture of the landscape where it is created, which is exactly what we aim to do with Lilliard.
Where can people find your gin? We sell all over Scotland – from North Berwick to Thurso – and are now beginning to work our way into England.
Tell us more about your still. It’s not very big …The still is only 60 litres (about the size of a gym ball!) which makes him one of the smallest stills in use in the UK.
Him? Yes, we call him Donald.
Ok, fair enough. How about the name Lilliard … where does that come from? Lilliard was the heroine of the Battle of Ancrum Moor, just outside our village. She fought to the death to avenge the murder of her lover at the hands of Henry VIII’s army. Part of our valley now bears her name so, as the gin is based here, it seemed only fitting that the gin should too.
Is there such a thing as a typical day for you? Not really. I can be doing anything from delivering to Nairn to doing an interview for a magazine, or just taking the bins out!
It sounds like the small batch gin industry in Scotland is thriving? Yes, we have a strong distilling history in Scotland, and it’s brilliant that we are now seeing so many amazing craft distillers. The talent and imagination going into craft gin at the moment is really exciting.
Are there many other female distillers in the industry today, or are you one of the few? A handful – and I’ve met all but one of them. We are a very small minority!
What do you love most about what you do? Walking past a shop window and being surprised to see the gin in the window, or overhearing someone say how much they like it. Both never fail to make me smile.
And what is the most challenging aspect of your job? The relentless paperwork. HMRC don’t make concessions for size.
Finally, what can people expect from one of your gin tasting evenings? An insight into craft distilling from the inside. I am always keen that people feel that they get to know the distiller as well as their gin.