What defines a Scottish gin?


What defines a Scottish gin?

18th January 2019

For the past couple of years there has been an ongoing debate as to what exactly defines a gin as being a Scottish Gin. The debate kicked off following revelations that several gins being sold as a Scottish gin were in fact not produced in Scotland at all.

Now we don't have an issue with a gin being made elsewhere, wether that is England, France or even further afield, however, we do believe that these gins should be honest with this fact and tell you as the consumer where your gin is made. We're consumers ourselves and we have many gins that are made elsewhere but marketed as being a Scottish Gin, we lost a lot of respect for some that were not open about their provenance but gained a lot of respect for this that inform the consumer as to where their gin is made.

Mackintosh Gin Label

The debate rages on with no sign of a definition and different camps as to what a Scottish gin should be. Should the spirit be made in Scotland? Should the botanicals be grown in Scotland? Should the product be distilled and bottled in Scotland? For us, we believe that to qualify as a Scottish gin it should be distilled and bottled in Scotland. There is no one in Scotland making neutral grain spirit (NGS) commercially available, and only a few producers who are making their own from scratch, so most of the gin producers in Scotland import NGS to use as the base in they gin. Thats what we do, we get our NGS from one of the biggest producers in England but we don't shy away from that. The same is true for purely Scottish botanicals being used in gin. There are a few who do this, but many import their botanicals, just like we do. Our juniper and the citrus we use are imported from the Mediterranean, but this is the flavour profile we wanted in our gin. we do use locally foraged elderflower, but we decided on this before we even started flavour profiling because we have two huge elder trees mere minutes from our front door!


Using pure Angus water that is collected from the glens nearby, our gin is distilled and bottled in Arbroath, the heart of Angus. To that end we very much consider ourselves as a Scottish gin, but others may disagree due to the botanicals and NGS we use. We feel that by being open and honest people will respect how we are produced.

Mackintosh Gin and Tonic

There is an even bigger debate going on that people may not be aware of, and that is with gins that are named after a certain place, but are not made anywhere near the location that they have across the front of their bottle. We don't want to name any names, but the next time you are engaging with some of these brands at a gin festival, ask them where their gin is produced. Those that are genuine will tell you! The Scottish Distillers Association have made it one of the qualifying criteria for membership that a producer must make a responsible claim in the place naming of spirits.

The Gin Foundry recently posted about brand Scotland, and the article is worth a read as it is very well written. The article can be found here.

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