Scotland is, famously, saturated with both gin and castles. And now the Queen, resident of Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire and well-known to enjoy a daily Dubonnet and Gin before lunch, has a new local tipple to try as Esker Gin launches in Royal Deeside. Indeed, one of Esker’s central botanicals hails from Balmoral’s neighbouring Kincardine Castle Estate.
The origins of Esker Gin, however, are rather less grandiose. Married couple Steven and Lynne Duthie had long shared a love of gin and always enthusiastically sought out new, local gins to try whenever the opportunity presented itself. Over the course of almost two years, Steven and Lynne experimented with local botanicals, and those that featured in some of their favourite gins, in a small 1 litre copper still in their back garden. Having perfected their recipe, the couple invested in a large 100 litre traditional copper pot from Portugal and decided to start producing their gin on a commercial scale.
While Lynne still works within the energy industry, Steven has recently given up his job to fully commit himself to his position of Distiller at Esker Spirits. However, Steven’s previous career as a designer in the oil industry is evident in the modern design of the Esker Gin bottle, which was created in collaboration with RRD Creative. The bottle’s stunning angular lines are intended to represent Royal Deeside’s river, mountains and castles. The look is clean and contemporary, as well it might be: the transparency of the bottle is supposed to showcase the clarity of the spirit as well as to reference the clear waters of the River Dee.
The spirit itself features over twelve botanicals including rosehip, heather, milk thistle, peppercorn and silver birch sap, alongside juniper and citrus. Locally sourced botanicals are used as far as possible, including the silver birch sap which lends the gin a certain sweetness. It is sourced from the trees of the nearby Kincardine Castle Estate and can only be tapped in Spring, meaning that enough has to pulled to last the full year.
Esker Gin has a perfumed and slightly sweet aroma. Citrus and floral notes dominate the nose although there is also an intriguing cool dampness which reminded me of Rock Rose’s Summer Edition Gin.
Citrus and rose petals are prominent when tasted neat although there is also a slight earthiness and a warmth to the gin which I suspect comes from the peppercorns. There is also a big hit of juniper on the slightly unrefined finish.
Esker Gin really comes into its own though served as a G&T with Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water and a twist of orange rind. This garnish really accentuates the sweet citrus and floral notes of the gin and brings to mind beautiful fragrant orange blossom. All in all, it is a delicate and refreshing gin and tonic with a pleasingly long finish; the sort of drink that would be perfect on a warm summer’s day. I think I’m going to need a bigger bottle!
Esker Gin costs £35 and is available to purchase from Inverurie Whisky Shop.
With thanks to Esker Spirits for sending me a sample bottle of Esker Gin.