Scottish Gin

The beautiful Bunessan Bay on the Isle of Mull, just one of the islands on our Love Island Route.

Love Island Love Island is the perfect Scottish Gin Holiday for lovers of Scottish Gin. Featuring some of Scotland’s less visited coastal locations, these islands have a powerful charm to instantly possess their visitors.  Like a fickle reality-show contestant, some give you their stormy side for days at a time, but when their sun comes out, their beauty is dazzling. You fall deeply in love, and you know it’s gonna last a lifetime!

There are 700 or so Scottish islands to love, but just 89 with people thrown in.  The remainder have other attractive residents though.  Some permanent, some just passing through.  These islands were formed from ancient rocks, in places over a billion years old, others from volcanoes. Explore high mountain contours and low-lying sandy grasslands, there really is somewhere for everyone.  Through history they’ve been woo’ed by Celts and Vikings, echoed in the place names and the surviving castles. Much evidence of some turbulent past relationships.

These days a more sociable culture has arrived on these gorgeous shores: The Gin Makers.  And so, while you don’t need any better reasons to introduce yourself than the islands themselves, you now have the spirit to turn your day dreams into reality, and start seriously loving these islands! Plan your Love Island Scottish Gin Holiday with Ginspired Scotland.

Oban to Colonsay – Wednesday

This tour starts and ends in Oban, on a Wednesday! That might sound very precise, but to make the most of the ferry timetables, keep costs down, and spend less time travelling and more time enjoying yourself, that’s the best day to start. You may opt to drive there, and engage a driver for the remainder, or to self drive throughout. Many islands have car hire available if you’re prepared to travel as foot passengers on the ferries. The lovely folk at Colonsay Gin will even give you a lift to explore other parts of the island, if they’re available!

There’s an afternoon Caledonian McBrayne ferry from Oban out to the unspoilt island of Colonsay. Just over 2 hours cruising some of Scotland’s most beautiful seaways. Past lovely Kerrera, then following the south side of Mull out into open water and then Colonsay itself. What a way to begin your holiday, on an island with more sunshine hours than anywhere else in Scotland!

Accommodation here ranges from self catering cottages, a hostel, or the elegant Colonsay hotel perched just above the harbour at Scalasaig. Be sure to order one of the island gins at the bar.

Colonsay – Thursday & Friday

Kiloran Beach

Colonsay has delights aplenty, from the debate over whether Balnahard or Kiloran beach is more beautiful, to knowing which of the two island gins you should try first! Choices, choices to make. Colonsay Gin offers Gin Lovers Retreats on Friday and Saturdays, with accommodation and meals included. At other times they offer afternoon tours of their craft distillery, or more formal tasting sessions, perhaps featuring gins from their global collection, or a hand crafted selection of Scottish lovelies, according to your wishes. So book in for a Thursday tour unless you’re able to stay around.

Wild Island Gin ‘Distiller’s Cut’ is made right next to the ferry terminal and shop, and runs tours on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays, with tastings too. Don’t miss it!

Colonsay is home to seabird colonies, exotic plants which enjoy the mild climate, wild goats, a brewery and even an 18 hole golf course. So there’s something for everyone. Truly an island not to be missed!

Colonsay to Islay – Saturday

Leaving Colonsay on the Saturday evening ferry to Islay’s Port Askaig, you arrive nicely in time for a late dinner, or perhaps just a local gin nightcap. (Don’t miss this ferry, and book well in advance – the next one’s not until Wednesday!)

Accommodation? There’s such a wide range from the elegant Islay House, to self catering and camping.

One of our favourites is Glenegedale House with Fiona’s incredible home baking, but the island information website also has a great selection:

Islay – Sunday

Islay is often called the Queen of the Hebrides. You can easily fill a week or more here, but for this trip we just have 2 days. You can squeeze visits to the island’s two gin producers in one day though!

The Botanist tour at Bruichladdich begins at 1pm, and Nerabus Gin’s visitor Centre in the Square at Islay House is open between 12 noon and 4pm. For details and to book click on the pictures above.

Jura – Monday

Jura is a very visible presence from many parts of Islay, with it’s distinctive Paps or hills looking across the fast flowing sound to Port Askaig, Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain. It’s Islay’s little sister, but as little sisters often do, she has her own distinct personality.

On Jura, people number around 200, but there are well over 5000 red deer, so you are bound to come across them during your visit. The ferry from Port Askaig on Islay to Feolin on Jura runs daily every hour during the daytime, weather permitting.

From Feolin, there’s just one road, to Craighouse, the main village with the whisky distillery and the hotel, and onwards to Ardlussa and our destination – Lussa Gin. Lussa Gin was founded by three ladies, Claire, Alicia and Georgina who grow or forage all of the botanicals they use in Lussa gin right here on Jura. Their enterprise began in 2015, but recognition and awards soon followed and exports are now well established. Book your visit here

Not far beyond Ardlussa is Barnhill House, where George Orwell wrote 1984 in his later years. It’s ironic to think he wrote about Big Brother, when in such a remote spot the only beings watching him would have been the deer and eagles of Jura!

You’ll probably return to Islay to sleep as it’s an early ferry tomorrow, but enjoy lunch or a drink or two at The Jura Hotel while you’re there. 


Islay to Seil and Oban – Tuesday

The CalMac sailing from Port Ellen leaves at 945am, arriving 1205. Taking the ferries in this combination means you won’t cover the same route twice, giving you new sights around every headland. Landing at Kennacraig you head north to Oban. Rather than try to keep up with the whisky lorries or the speedy fish vans though, take some detours to the Crinan Canal, or up historic Kilmartin Glen, and make the most of your afternoon.

The Slate Isles – Tuesday

Before you return to Oban, take a small diversion across the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, that’s right, here you can cross the Atlantic by bridge! This bridge carries you across to Seil, the northernmost of the Slate Islands, or ‘The Islands that Roofed the World’. Slate was mined here for many years, possibly even in Viking times although the earliest recording is from the early 1500s. These slates were used in the construction of Castle Stalker in 1631, Cawdor Castle and Glasgow Cathedral too. Fascinatingly, the slate dimensions were referred to as Ladies, Countess, Duchess and Princess, in ascending order of size. I wonder why? There’s a Heritage Centre here and it’s well worth a visit. If you find the answer, perhaps you could let me know?

Our recommended accommodation tonight and tomorrow is the lovely Aspen Lodge, just outside Oban.

Oban – Wednesday

After enjoying a wonderful breakfast at Aspen Lodge explore the delights of this area for the day. Choose from cycling, boat trips, gardens, castles, a whisky distillery, shopping, a chocolatier, great seafood restaurants, horse riding, diving, walking or just wandering and people watching! There’s plenty to occupy you and it makes for a great excuse to relax and chill.

Don’t miss Oban Whisky and Fine Wine on Stafford Street, to see their selection of Scottish Gins while you’re in town.

Overnight again at Aspen Lodge.

Oban to Mull – Thursday

Mull – Another Love Island

Today’s destination is the beautiful island of Mull. From Oban, the short 40 minute sail to Craignure passes the strategic stronghold of Duart Castle, home to the Clan McLean for over 700 years. At Craignure, head north along the coast road to the island’s picturesque capital, Tobermory.


Tobermory Distillery is found at the southern end of town, and is open daily from 10am to 4pm, This distinctive gin is really worth getting to know, and their whisky’s pretty good too!

With a selection of pubs and restaurants, including the famous fish and chip van on the harbour, there are plenty of places to eat in colourful Tobermory. There’s a jeweller who still crafts intricate chains on the premises, craft shops, galleries and coffee houses, leave plenty of time to explore this charming Hebridean harbour town. You may choose to spend the night here in one of the variety of hotels or B&Bs, or to continue around the coastal roads to explore more of the island. Calgary Bay is a treat, but the narrow roads require patient drivers.

Next stop is at Tiroran, home to White Tail Gin. The direct route from Tobermory takes around one hour and it’s a gorgeous journey. Tiroran House, hotel, restaurant and self catering is beautifully situated, and even casual visitors can enjoy their coffee shop where the local gin can be sampled and purchased too.

Staffa – Friday

Whether you spent the night at Tiroran or Tobermory, we recommend you head to the south of the island today. At the very foot of Mull is Fionnphort and the ferry across to ‘The Cradle of Christianity’, Iona. But before you follow the crowds (and it does get very busy), consider taking the early boat out to visit Staffa?

Staffa’s caves (Fingal’s included) face east, so are best viewed in the morning light. You might even get there while the resident puffins are having their breakfast (April to late June), or spot a huge snoozing basking shark or minke whale along the way.

Time to pick up a lobster roll or crab sandwich from the kiosk on the quay – I hope it’s open during your visit, but it all depends on the catch!

Iona – Friday

Iona is a small island and you can’t take your car there, which makes it a very calm experience, even on busy days. The Abbey is beautiful and the sense of peace is pervasive, even if this type of spirit is not your preferred tipple.

Relatively new, and not yet produced on the island, Isle of Iona Gin contains some of Iona’s unique plants in it’s botanical range. Hopefully it won’t be long before you can include both types of spiritual experience in your visit. Yet another Island to Love!

A short walk takes you to Iona’s main sites before your ferry returns you to Mull.

You’ve the chance to set foot on 3 islands today. Why not top it off with a Castle on your way back to Oban on the late ferry? You have time to include Duart Castle or the lovely Castle at Torosay, built around 500 years later. Both are on your route back to the ferry at Craignure.

We have to finish somewhere, or just go around again!

It’s your final night! So spend it on Mull or in Oban. Your choice depending on your onward travel plans.

We hope you’ve loved our island itinerary, but do come back again, this has only been a journey of seven isles and seven (or eight) gins, and there are plenty more to savour!

Wherever your island exploring take you, be sure to check out our free Gincyclopedia Gin map to help plan your true love island adventure!

Click on the Bridge image to view the full 3 night itinerary with 7 local gins to explore in beautiful Moray Speyside.

Short version 3 night itinerary Moray Speyside

#LetTheAdventureBeGIN

Please read and agree to our terms and conditions ahead of entering this competition.

ENTER HERE or via the form below

Ginspired Scotland have teamed up with our friends at Avva Gin and Caorunn Gin to offer you the chance to WIN a 2 night Ginspired stay in Moray Speyside, Scotland!

Enter our competition to WIN a 2 night self-catering stay at a rural holiday cottage in the heart of Speyside, PLUS, a bespoke 1 day tour incorporating 2 Scottish Gin distilleries and a Scottish Gin themed dinner!

Following a bespoke Ginspired Day Trip itinerary, included in the prize is a chauffeur driven, guided private tour for up to 4 people with our friends at More in Moray.


The Prize – Ginspired Scotland Day Trip Itinerary

Your Ginspired day trip will include:

2 nights self-catering holiday cottage accommodation

Welcome hamper of locally sourced produce

Pick up at your accommodation

Transport to a tour and tasting at Caorunn Gin Distillery

Lunch

Visit to Craigellachie Bridge, Elgin Cathedral and Johnstons of Elgin

Transport to Elgin for a tour and tasting at Avva Gin Distillery

Dinner and Scottish Gin tasting

Transport back to your accommodation

ENTER HERE or via the form below

Closing date for entries: 31st July 2021

More in Moray

Travel in style! More in Moray are based in lovely Lossiemouth and provide a wide range of private tours across the Moray Speyside region and beyond. Whether you are looking for a gin distillery tour, a whisky tour, a castles tour, and bespoke itineraries are catered for. More in Moray are happy to assist you with any specific plans for touring across Morayshire, Aberdeenshire, and The Highlands. It is your personalized itinerary, it is your choice!


Caorunn Gin Distillery Tour and Tasting

If you ever needed another excuse to visit the beautiful Speyside region of the Scottish Highlands, this is it. Balmenach Distillery set in a spectacular backdrop, but the Caorunn Gin guided tour takes you on a journey to learn first-hand how the Copper Berry Chamber distillation process sets us apart from the rest.

The local Gin Geniuses will take you through what goes into making Caorunn, and not only that, but you’ll be able to appreciate the stunning surroundings where our Celtic Botanicals are hand-foraged by the team. 

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Avva Gin Distillery Tour and Tasting

Located in the old Cathedral City of Elgin and the famous distilling region of Speyside, Avva Scottish Gin is lovingly handcrafted in Jessie-Jean our bespoke copper still.  The name Avva means a respected grandmother or elder women in the Indian language of Dravidian and therefore fitting that the still is named after our distillers two grandmothers.  

Launched in October 2016, Avva Scottish Gin have gone onto produce an award winning portfolio of spirits.  Product inspiration is drawn from regional influences from label designs to ingredients.  
Authenticity is a key value of the distillery which prides itself in distilling, infusing and bottling on-site.  Artisan small batch craft gin, distilled slowly with a selected mix of Highland and Speyside botanicals.  

Avva made with heart, in the heart of Speyside. 

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The Dowans Hotel, Aberlour

The Dowans
Enjoy a Scottish Gin cocktails and a gin-themed dinner in beautiful surroundings at the Dowans Hotel in Aberlour.

Although known for the range of whiskies in its Still bar, this family-run hotel also has a wide variety of gins available in its MBar and makes a great base for exploring the Speyside distilleries.


Daleigh Cottage, Advie

2 night stay near Grantown-on-Spey

Launching in August 2021 – Daleigh Cottage is a 2 bed cosy highland cottage on the iconic Tulchan Estate near Grantown on Spey. Relax in the peace of the beautiful Scottish countryside with amazing views from every window.


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The Scottish picnic season has arrived, just in time for National Picnic Week! Enjoy a true taste of summer by adding a refreshing twist of locally produced Scottish Gin to your essential summer picnic checklist. 

Here you will find Ginspired ideas of superb places to sip Scottish Gin outdoors in the lovely summer sunshine. Whether you’re looking for a secluded forest glen or a beautiful beach with big open skies and stunning sea views, here’s Ginspired Scotland’s top tips for a memorable Ginspired summer picnic.


Find your perfect Ginspired picnic place

With unprecedented levels of picnicking this year, finding the perfect picnic site in Scotland couldn’t be easier. Rely on Ginspired Scotland’s interactive map, aka the Gincyclopedia, to provide everything you need to plan the most memorable and delicious summertime picnic. 

Loch Morlich Beach © fb/Loch Morlich Watersports

Escape from it all and head to the hills, the Cairngorms National Park is the UK’s largest natural gem and is home to an abundance of naturally Scottish produce. It is also a wildly beautiful place to picnic. Feast in the forests, luncheon by a glistening loch, relax at a riverside or you can even hit the beach!  Try Abernethy Forest,  Loch Morlich beach, Loch an Uaine or Loch an Eilean where you can admire the breathtaking scenery and enjoy mother nature at her absolute best.

© KJ’s Bothy Bakery/FB

Locally, food on the go is available from local food suppliers such as Rothiemurchus Farm shop where you can order a pre-packed meal kit, a hamper or afternoon tea box and team it up with one (or two) of the local gins, for the ultimate ‘Luxury Lazy day by the Loch’.  Pay nearby Grantown-on-Spey a visit and head to KJ’s Bothy Bakery for awesome picnic food, cakes, scones and world class coffee.


Coastal picnics across Moray Speyside

Embrace the Scottish summertime and head to the one of the many sandy beaches along the Moray Firth and experience the calming influence of water wellness. We all know the health benefits of being outdoors and by the water, so breath deeply and chill with a delicious picnic of local tasty treats. From family-friendly beach days to romantic sunsets views, Moray Speyside is a fantastic place for a seaside escape. 

Findhorn Beach © Shutterstock

Our top tips for a coastal picnic include locations such as Roseisle beach where there is a lovely mix of forestry, a kids playground, BBQ amenities and a stunning beach with shallow waters, perfect for paddling. Visit Lossiemouth west beach with the Instagrammable Covesea lighthouse or the stunning and ever popular Findhorn Bay for its relaxed vibe, optional boat trips and even a spot of SUPping.

Bootleggers Bothy, Cummingston © FB/@BootleggersBothy

Local food lovers are spoilt for choice. Fill your picnic platter with local delights from Brodie Countryfare, Allarburn Farm Shop, Gordon & Macphail or the Bootleggers Bothy which is a brilliant alfresco eating experience on the Moray Firth coast. Strawberry picking is available further up the coast at Wester Hardmuir, their ice cream is definitely worth a try!

Locally produced Scottish Gins include…


Enjoy a family road trip picnic

The ingredients for an epic family road trip always includes a solid soundtrack, your favourite people, great places to visit and a delicious picnic. So grab your besties, your picnic blanket, your cool box and let’s hit the road! 

Bow Fiddle Rock
Bow Fiddle Rock © VisitScotland

The north east corner of Scotland is home to some of our favourite picnicking places. The sheer variety and diversity of outstanding natural landscapes makes it difficult to choose, but some of the best include Crathes Castle, Gardens and Estate at Banchory, WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay and Bow Fiddle Rock at Portknockie are firm favourites.

© Gordon Castle

Self-drive adventure picnic treats are available from Finzean Estate Farm Shop & Tea Room in Banchory, Baxters Highland Village at Fochabers and Gordon Castle Walled Garden and Cafe is great for a stroll around followed by coffee, lunch, or cake.  As a picnic alternative, fish and chips are available at Portknockie and we can’t really imagine a better place by the sea to eat them.

Locally produced Scottish Gins include…


Ginspired island hopping

Summer stay-cations get no better than island hopping off the coast of Scotland. Fill your picnic hamper with locally produced food and drink and you are onto a winner.

The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye © Shutterstock

The isle of Bute could be one of Scotland’s best kept secrets. Follow the West Island Way on foot and make a picnic pit stop at one of the beautiful beaches. Visit Cycle-Bute and hire a bike and trailer, a great way to keep your picnic safe! On the isle of Skye, the iconic Fairy Pools have been voted the best picnic location in Scotland and we can see why! Or venture north and take a NorthLink ferry hop over to Orkney to experience outdoor attractions such as Skara Brae or the Ring of Brodgar for a real sense of Orcadian heritage.

Port Bannatyne, Isle of Bute © Shutterstock

Bute Kitchen is a collaboration of all Bute’s local producers, enjoy Ritchie’s of Rothesay smoked fish, Bute Gin, or try Sheese! When visiting Orkney, order a hamper of local produce from Jollys of Orkney, they even do a special Gin hamper which includes Gin fudge, Gin cheese, and Gin preserves amongst other delicious smoked fish and of course.. Gin! If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Skye, build your picnic with produce from the Isle of Skye Baking Co. and for seafood and local produce, visit The Oyster Shed.

Jollys of Orkney Gin Hamper © Jollys of Orkney

Locally produced Scottish Gins include…


Picnic in the city

Picnics are not just for the countryside! Find a glorious green space in one of Scotland’s amazing cities and soak up the summer sunshine by taking some moments away from the hustle and bustle. Here are two of our favourites.

Edinburgh © Shutterstock

Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh has a long standing gin-making heritage and is home to renowned gin distilling expertise and award-winning delicious Scottish Gins. There’s no better place to unfurl a picnic blanket and enjoy a true taste of the city than at Calton Hill, The Royal Botanic Garden or right in the buzzing centre at Princes Street Gardens.

The Dundee Law © VisitScotland

Dundee has lots of green spaces to enjoy a picnic , including Camperdown Country Park, Dundee Botanic Garden, and Slessor Park in the heart of the city centre. A walk up The Law rewards you with spectacular views over the city and far away.

Dundee and surrounds is also home to a growing number of independent specialist food and drink retailers.  If you like to shop local, and limit the food miles in your larder, visit The Butcher, The Baker. Here ‘passion’ is key (have your cold shower ready!) Fraser’s Fruit & Veg has a range of local fresh produce plus ready meals, soups and deli foods, all beautifully presented. Just out of town is Grewar’s Farm Shop too, where ‘local’ and ‘quality’ are the watchwords.

Locally produced Scottish Gins include…

Wherever your picnicking adventures take you, be sure to check out our free Gincyclopedia Gin map to add a refreshing summer twist of locally produced Scottish Gin!

If you love touring on two wheels, make cycle-friendly Scotland your place for a Ginspired escape. Whether you are after easy going, family friendly trails, a bike-packing adventure, an adrenaline fuelled off-road mountain bike day in the hills or a tour in our cycle-friendly cities, come rain or shine Scotland has some truly Ginspired day trips for cycling.

FROG

After several hours in the saddle, what better way to chill out after a day of physical challenge than with a refreshing Scottish Gin and Tonic? Whilst cycling and drinking gin at the same time is obviously completely illegal, Ginspired Scotland will show you the best places to sit back, relax and reward the efforts of your day with local food, authentic experiences and artisanal Scottish Gin.


1. GLASGOW

NEXT BIKE LOGO

With segregated cycle lanes and links to wider cycle networks, Glasgow is leading the way in becoming a haven for urban cyclists.  Like most major cities, Glasgow is home to NextBike! where you can rent an e-Bike or standard bike and explore this amazing city on two wheels. Simply download the app, register and you are good to go!

Culture vultures can ride through Glasgow following the sensational Glasgow Mural Trail where you can take in works of art, culture, heritage and humour. The great news is that the Glasgow Mural Trail passes by Glasgow finest restaurants, bars and Scottish Gin distilleries. Refuel and relax at Sauchiehall Street’s Gin 71 for gin tasting or BeGin in the West End. Detour to the Barras Art and Design Centre where you’ll find a warm welcome from Crossbill Gin Distillers.

The Seven Lochs and Clyde Loop combines the new Seven Lochs trail with a lovely cycle along the river Clyde. Nature lovers will enjoy a visit to Scotland’s largest urban nature park at Seven Lochs Wetlands. This largely traffic free route ends at the buzzing West End of Glasgow where you can eat, drink and relax in some of Glasgow’s best restaurants. Our Ginspired post-cycling eating recommendations include Sloans for indoor and outdoor dining and The Spiritualist Bar and Restaurant, the Makar Gin distillery is nearby.

For a real mountain bike experience in the heart of the city, head to Pollok Country Park on the south side of Glasgow. With trails to suit all levels of ability, Pollok Country Park offers a gentle ride in the woods, or steeper terrain with varied surfaces and constructed obstacles. For a post adrenalin-rush Ginspired treat, try The Allison Arms, Curious Liquids, or savour Illicit Gin wherever you can find it.

Tour around Glasgow or bike pack out of Glasgow – whichever you decide be sure to capture the true spirit of the people of Glasgow and end your day in the saddle with a deliciously refreshing local gin.


2. EDINBURGH

Travelling around Edinburgh by bike is a perfect way to immerse yourself in this beautiful and historic city. Bike hire is available at JustEatCycles, Bike Trax, Pedal Forth or be guided around the city with Edinburgh Bike Tours or Baja Bikes.

At the foot of the Royal Mile is Holyrood Park which offers spectacular cityscape views and a well surfaced road for cyclists. Scottish Gin Distillery tours near to Holyrood Park include Holyrood Gin, South Loch Gin, and Pickerings Gin. In addition, there are plenty of stops along the way including five star visitor attraction Dynamic Earth. You can also see The Scottish Parliament building and national monument of Scotland at Calton Hill, or cycle to visit Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

A bike ride to South Queensferry from Edinburgh along section 7 of The John Muir Way reveals superb views of all three of Scotland’s Forth bridges.  Or in reverse, from South Queensferry, end up at Arthurs Seat for an end of cycle climb and spectacular views across the city.

You will be spoilt for choice for places to eat and drink but our top tips include refuelling at Heads and Tails, One Square and 56º North.


3. FORT WILLIAM

Experience Scotland’s finest scenery and a backdrop of Ben Nevis, Fort William is the perfect escape for those wanting to adventure on two wheels. Bike hire is available at Off Beat Bikes in Fort William and there are lots of great biking routes in and around the town. The Great Glen Cycle Way is a stunning trail that follows the Caledonian Canal and the shores of Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness with the mountains of the Ben Nevis range ever present. Take a bike packing adventure over few days and journey along The West Highland 150. 150 miles of stunning scenery with plenty of accommodation stops along the way. Try the Loch Leven Hotel, The Moorings or Clachaig Inn. Celebrate your challenges with local Scottish Gin such as Pixel Spirits, or Aonach Mor Gin.


4. GLENLIVET

Escape to the Cairngorm National Park where the Glenlivet Estate is a truly beautiful and less discovered area of Scotland.The perfect place to hit the hills and go mountain biking. Bike hire is available on-site at BikeGlenlivet. There are three trails for cross country riding with a route to suit all abilities. The scenery is astounding and the locally produced Scottish Gins are a treat. Try a Caorunn Gin or Eight Lands with premium tonic and enjoy the view. Definitively a Ginspired day trip for the cycling enthusiast.


5. SPEYSIDE

The Moray Monster Trails at Fochabers is a great family friendly mountain biking day out with trails across forestry land and views across the Moray Firth. For non-riders there is plenty to do locally too. Visit Gordon Castle Walled Garden and Cafe and don’t forget to purchase their delicious and award winning Gordon Castle Gin. Avva Gin, El:Gin, Roehill Springs Gin and MacGin are all locally produced and add a hint of local flavour after a long day in the hills. Who said Speyside was all about whisky?


6. AVIEMORE

Mountain biking is very much en vogue in Aviemore.  Not surprising as the trails are endless and every possible level of talent and fitness can be accommodated. Hire a bike locally at Bothy Bikes, In Your Element or Aviemore Bikes.  At the end of your Cairngorm adventure, why not refresh your senses with a Cairngorm Gin?  It’s produced within the National Park and one of it’s key botanicals is pine needles!  It’s delicious and available online as well as from the Rothiemurchus Shop at Inverdruie. Kinrara Gin, Byrons Gin, Daffy’s Gin, Duncan’s Gin and Inshriach Gin are all local and widely available. Eating out is easy in Aviemore, try the Winking Owl, The Old Bridge Inn or The Cairngorm Hotel.


7. DUNDEE

Dundee has lots of green spaces to enjoy, including Camperdown Country Park, Dundee Botanic Garden, and Slessor Park in the heart of the city centre. Mountain bikers can head to the all new Templeton Tangle to learn skills and develop confidence. The Green Circular is a 26-mile leisure cycle and walking route that circumnavigates Dundee. It passes by Dundee’s major visitor attractions, the V&A, Discovery Point and Camperdown Wildlife Centre.

Complete the day by sipping a relaxing local gin. Try award winning Verdant Dry Gin, or The Dundee Gin Co’s Dundee Cake Gin Liqueur, Marmalade Gin Liqueur or their Classic Dry Gin. Crag & Tail small batch Scottish Gin or Tayport Distillery’s Wild Rose Gin are also delicious and refreshing.

Our top tips for eating out in Dundee include Gallery 48, The Bruach Bar in nearby Broughty Ferry or Duke’s Corner is where to head for cocktails, local gins, craft beers and good food.


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New Normal Road sign

As we socially distance ourselves from lockdown, contemplating the return to normality can be quite daunting. Will we remember that we now have to dress our lower halves as well? Will we brush/comb/polish the back of our hair styles, as well as the sections visible on Zoom? Can we still use the slowness of our broadband as an excuse for that ‘missed’ action point? But more fundamentally, will our brains cope with the combination of work, commuting, socialising and home/family life, without exploding? i.e. we might be beating Covid, but will we survive getting back to normal?

If you’re not sure, perhaps a bit of brain training is what’s required. Take your brain back to school. But no, I’m not that cruel, I’m sending you and your brain to GIN SCHOOL!!
Some of your favourite gin producers have been quick off the mark to kindly bring this vital therapeutic
opportunity to you, no matter where in Scotland you find yourself facing being normal:-

Scottish Gin Schools.

Crossbill Gin re-opens their gin school in late May. Their educational experience is a few hours (usually 3)
spent at the distillery in Glasgow learning about how gin is made and the botanicals involved. This
includes some tutored nosing and tasting with an expert. You’ll then go on to select your preferred
botanicals and create your own gin to take away with you. The price is currently £125 per person. Please
always book ahead.
That’s getting back to normal.

Isle of Skye Distillery, home of Misty Isle and Tommy’s Gin, re-opens on Wednesdays and Fridays from 2-
5pm, led by Master Distiller Alistair. The three hour sensory experience includes gin tastings, the history of gin and the story of The Isle of Skye Distillery. Plus the chance to create your own bottle of gin by expertly selecting the botanicals under Alistair’s guidance, running your own pot still, then bottling and labelling too. You can share a still between two of you, or keep it all to yourself (no one’s judging!) The price is £85 per still either way. Please always book in advance. This is going to be very popular. That’s normal too.

The City of Aberdeen Distillery. Dan and Alan plan to re-open in late May. Their Gin School is a great
place to meet gin minded people from across the region. They work with up to 20 aspiring gin makers at a time and offer a comprehensive session covering the history of distilling in Aberdeen, a G&T on arrival, various samples to inform your choices, and your own design of bottle filled with gin. Celebrate becoming a distiller with a cocktail afterwards – what more could you and your normal brain wish for?

Ballachulish’s Pixel Spirits hold their gin school at North Ballachulish, at the foot of Glen Coe. The local
landscape is a treat for the senses in itself, but add in gin to the mix, and your wellbeing rating will soar like a local eagle. The Gin School here is up and running, and a three hour gin making experience, complete with recipe development time, distilling an uber small batch gin, and taking home a full sized bottle of your bespoke creation, comes in at £89 per person. There’s a G&T or two also included in case you’re thirsty.

Loch Leven Hotel

Uniquely, Pixel also offers a rum school. It’s a similar set up, but making rum is a very different process to
gin, so it’s a whole new set of neural pathways for your brain to develop! Hard to miss that Pixel is located
in the grounds of the Loch Leven Hotel, so why not book in for a couple of nights and cover both bases?
Two wonderful spirits in two wonderful days. That’s truly being kind to yourself and your grey matter. That should be normal.


Lost Loch Distillery, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire is re-opening once restrictions allow. Luckily their airy and
spacious gin school lets everyone discover all about gin or other botanical spirits (the choice is yours) with lots of space around them. Spend the day learning about how botanical spirits are created and work
alongside the experts to design your own unique expression, and take it home with you at the end of the
day! At present, you might be best to buy a voucher, which at £115 is a promise of an extremely
educational and therapeutic day to come. Go on, your brain (and taste buds) will thank you for it. They
normally do.


Kirkwall’s Kirkjuvagr Distillery is re-opening for tours very soon, and looks forward to welcoming you back
to take part in their Gin Making sessions. This immersion in all things gin can be for 1, 2 or 3 people
sharing one mini-still. The price ranges from £125 for one person, £175 for two and £225 for three people
working together at this harbour front distillery. It’s a five hour experience and must be booked in advance of course, subject to Covid restrictions. But that’s completely normal.

Crafty Distillery is home to Hills and Harbours Gin, Newton Stewart. It re-opens on Friday April 30 th for
their informative tours, which include a perfect serve of the base spirit, a cocktail and a Hills and Harbour
Gin & Tonic for £20, or a non-drinking driver tour for £10. Their highly regarded full day spent with the
Master Distiller which includes foraging for botanicals and learning the art of distilling, will begin once
Covid restrictions allow. If you can’t wait, call the team and it may be possible to set something up if you
use your own transport. New normal.

So Are You Ready?


So, as normal, Ginspired has come up with the perfect guide to enhancing your wellbeing as we adjust to getting back to normal. If you, or someone you know, has a brain that would benefit from attending school (and who hasn’t?), book them in. You’re bound to find that their whole demeanour is improved immeasurably, when thoroughly immersed in Scottish Gin, (completely normal).

So click through the links (as normal) and book yourself on!


You’re welcome. (That’s normal too.)

We are all revelling in the delight of travel restrictions being eased around Scotland. So for us, first stop, Cairngorms National Park!

The Cairngorms National Park takes a leading role in many wildlife and adventure stories.  It’s no co-incidence that Chris Packham and co are regularly spotted filming Springwatch and its seasonal counterparts here, as it boasts the full set of Scotland’s wildlife heroes, and a spectacular backdrop for every vibrant scene.

Getting Here

Easy to find – the heart of the Highlands

Aviemore is accessible by car (A9). Approx 40 mins from Inverness and 1hr 40mins from Perth, it is perfect to get there and back in the same day, and still have ample time for exploring.

Join us as we take our #GinspiredDayTrip around Aviemore.

Loch Morlich

Head a few miles up the ‘ski road’ to the stunning Loch Morlich.  Fed by snow melt from high up on the sub-arctic tundra of the Cairngorm Plateau, the water here never feels anything less than baltic. However the local ducks will welcome you warmly, especially if you’ve brought some peas, sweetcorn, or porridge oats (never bread), to reward their attentions.  A small parking fee will allow you to spend a while here. Paddling (for the brave), picnicking, watching the sailing boats and enjoying the views of the mountains behind.

Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre

Nearby Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre is a must during your day out. The Farm shop is open, and always worth a visit. Why not order a pre-packed meal kit for when you return home. A hamper or afternoon tea box and team it up with one (or two) of the local gins, for the ultimate ‘Luxury Lazy day by the Loch’. Here you can refresh yourselves with coffee and cakes from ‘The Barn’ which is open for takeaway only.  If budgets and time allow, book clay pigeon shooting, quad trekking, hairy coo safaris, pony trekking or the ever popular Treezone.  If not, a map of the estate and it’s many trails and paths is a great investment. 

Some of the Activities available at the Cairngorm National Park

Ariel View of Loch Eilein, Cairngorm National Park

One of our favourites is the lovely path around Loch an Eilein.  It’s £4.50 to park a car, but that does give access to toilets and a small visitor centre telling more about the local area. Please check before you travel to see if these facilities are open at this time.  The walk encircles the loch which is home to a small medieval castle on a rocky island.  Strolling through ancient pine forests, this walk is as good in winter as in summer.  Red squirrels are evident, if you don’t see them in person, you’ll see the pine cones they’ve stripped littering the forest floor.  Look out too for wood ant nests, which form huge piles of pine needles among the heather and other woodland shrubs.  Interesting mosses, ferns and pine bark textures in among towering trees, some several hundred years old.  It’s both atmospheric and somehow inspiring. 

Bike Your Way Around the National Park

Mountain biking is very much in vogue in the Cairngorm National Park..  Bike and eBike hire is a great way to get around for the energetic. The trails are endless if you wish, shorter if required. But every possible level of talent and fitness can be accommodated. Hire a bike locally if you can’t bring your own.   Wear a helmet though – those ancient pine trees can be hard!  Segway taster sessions, fishing for beginners and children at the well stocked lochs are also available for pre-booking. Fun for all the family.

A little further toward the ski slopes is Glenmore. Here you can park and take the wide path up towards the Ryvoan Pass and the beautiful Lochan Uaine, or the Green Loch.  It is said the colour comes from the fairies laundering their clothes here, and who knows, it may be true.  It’s far enough to know you’ve stretched your legs, but not so far as to put your kids off hillwalking. So, enjoy the scenery and that feeling that you are properly ‘in the hills’, there is no feeling quite like it.

Heading south, the Inshriach Forest is home to the fascinating Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail. Following a short stroll alongside the River Feshie, it is a low level walk for all abilities. Enjoy the added interest of the works of art along the way. 

The Highland Wildlife Park isn’t free to visit, those polar bears are hungry and expensive to keep, but on a ‘pounds per hour’ rating, we think it does rather well.  There aren’t too many places where polar bears, amur tigers, wildcats and snow leopards can be seen, as well as a host of other wonderful animals, many of whom live, or once lived within the National Park.  We highly recommend it, and you can no pre-book your tickets online.

Just a little further south, bordering the RSPB reserve of the Insh Marshes is Ruthven Barracks.  High on a hump above the floodplain, this fortified spot has been a Castle from medieval times as home to the Comyn and Gordon families. Rebuilt as a barracks by King George II in 1719,  as a defence against the Jacobites after the 1715 uprising. It’s free to visit, and full of atmosphere. 

One of the area’s biggest bargains is the Highland Folk Museum at nearby Kingussie.  However, not re-opening until the beginning of May 2021, it boasts free admission and free carparking giving access to a fabulous array of historical exhibits, showing how life was in days gone by.  If history’s not your thing, it was also used as a location in the Outlander series, so channel your inner Jamie or Claire, and enjoy some time here.  There’s plenty of shelter too if the weather’s not on your side, so dinnae fash yersel.

Travel Kindly, and Scotland will be Kind to You.

Travel Kindly infographic

We hope we’ve ginspired you to spend your new found travel freedom in the beautiful Aviemore and the Cairngorm National Park.  Even on a wee budget there’s loads to see and do, and some wonderful local gins to buy in the local shops.

Travel Kindly. Be kind to Scotland and you and everyone else will reap the benefits.

More Ginspired Day Trip Itineraries

Feel free to choose some of the other Day Trip Itineraries that we have created in the #ginspireddaytrips series. Adapt them to suit your needs, where you want to go and who is travelling you. They are completely FREE to use as is the Gincyclopedia, so get started and plan your 2nd, 3rd and 4th stop!

Do let us know what you enjoyed the most, what you’d recommend to others, and if you have some secret discoveries to share with us. 

Have a great #ginspireddaytrip!

Keep up-to-date with all things Scottish Gin & Tourism by signing up to our Newsletter

Want to find your way to kinder, more sustainable holidays in Scotland? Ginspired Scotland’s Travel Kindly campaign has loads of ideas to help you! We’re signposting the most environmentally sound ways to enjoy Scottish Gin as part of your next day trip, short break, or full scale holiday, in the world’s most beautiful country.

Be Kind to yourself, and to Scotland.

Icon for Ginspired Travel Kindly

After all, travelling kindly is not just about burning less fossil fuel, or ensuring you recycle what you can, it goes much deeper than that these days.  Travel Kindly means you can take sustainable holidays in Scotland and directs you to a whole range of ways to make your impact on our planet just that little bit sweeter. Like all great cocktails, it’s the small things added together that make fabulous results!

Think about supporting local businesses.  It’s a great way of meeting new people, finding food and drink you may never have tried before, and getting hints and tips to serve them in the tastiest ways.  Some of Scotland’s wonderful gins are not (yet) internationally known, and you mightn’t have encountered them close to your home, so take advantage of being in the worlds best known distilling nation, and make sure you sample them on their own territory,  Maybe take a bottle or two home with you. Check out on-line sales here.

Sustainable Holidays = Slowing Down…

Don’t rush off!  Although it’s tempting to travel quickly across our stunning land, it’s so much kinder to everyone to slow down. Breathe the wonderful fresh air, absorb those views, the atmosphere, the silence (or the buzz). Take time to watch for eagles, spot a whale, spy a distant red deer stag, or just watch the waves on the sea or the ripples on a crystal clear Highland loch. 

Spend time out of doors at night.  In the summer it barely gets dark, so don’t imagine the fun needs to stop because the clock says it should!  West coast sunsets are legendary, and the sunrises fight hard for the best Insta shot prize.  Winter brings the Northern Lights’ eerie glow.  An epic light show you’ll never forget.  But you’ll miss all of this if you’re too busy heading off.  Stay a while.  Be still.  Relax. After all Scotland in her majesty will be here when you come back, which you will!

Sustainable Holidays = Using Public Transport To Travel Kindly in Scotland

https://www.travelinescotland.com/

Use public transport.  It may not be the highlight of your everyday life, but getting about with the locals when you’re on holiday gives you a chance to really see the countryside or cityscape around you.  It’s much kinder to the planet of course, but it also allows you to mix with folk, strike up a conversation (we’re a friendly lot), ask your questions, find out what’s going on.  (I once got invited to an amazing ceilidh in a tiny village hall in the Highlands, simply by asking directions!  I’ve never danced so much or with so much energy.  It was the best work out ever!)  Check out the Gincyclopedia for bus and train stations in your holiday location.

‘Take only memories and leave only footprints’

The saying goes, ‘Take only memories and leave only footprints.’  Absolutely right of course, but I’m sure you’re not the litter-leaving type.  After all, why come to a stunning country, known all over the world for it’s pristine wild landscapes and clean pure air, and then polute it!  It also applies to less obvious things though, and in essence means ‘leave it as you found it’. So while it may be tempting to make stone towers on pebbly beaches as others have done, please don’t.  They topple on sea birds and other creatures (and children), and remove protection from the sand and small plants which are then blown around by the wind or dislodged by high tides. 

You’re basically changing the habitat, and without realising, you may be causing damage.  Close gates behind you if that’s the way you found them, or open, if that was. Don’t take flowers, take photos instead.  They’ll last a lot longer and stay beautiful for ever.

Shop locally.  And I don’t just mean for gin and other local specialities.  Give the supermarkets a body-swerve for a little while. Spend your money at the shops you discover on your route.  It might cost a little more, but consider how much your custom is valued by these smaller businesses which can be such a vital part of the fragile rural economy.  You’ll rediscover the joys of personal service, a friendly chat, maybe even a hand to carry it to your vehicle.  Many also stock locally produced meat, fish, vegetables, and crafts too – not to be missed!

Sustainable Holidays = Finding Your Perfect Piece of Paradise

Take the road less travelled.  So many people think they’ve ‘done Scotland’ if they’ve visited Edinburgh/Loch Ness/The Isle of Skye, but there is SO MUCH MORE!  That’s not to say you should skip those places, they do have a lot to offer, but they also see a lot of visitors.  So why not find your own perfect piece of paradise by discovering a different island (we’ve over 700 to choose from), another historic city (we have 5 main cities plus a Royal Burgh and a Kingdom too), and finding a fresh loch to dabble your toes in will not be a problem.  Consider going to a part of Scotland you hadn’t known about.  See our G&iTineraries and Day Trips for Ginspiration.

You’ll take home new stories to share with friends, and discover a hundred things you didn’t know before.  Spreading our visitors around helps everyone.  You get the peace and space you’re looking for. The local businesses appreciate your custom, and the roads and other facilities are not overwhelmed by crowds of folk arriving all at once.

So, be kind to yourself, and to Scotland,  Travel kindly. Take more sustainable holidays in Scotland, and you’ll find Scotland smiles right back at you!

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Holiday words

Ever spent a holiday in a strange bed longing for the familiar pillows of home?  Been hunched under a dribbly, cramped shower and yearned for the stretch space and drench power of your own?   Do you eat up the last few days of your hard-earned break planning how the next few months are going to shape up? You’re not alone.

Going away often means compromises.  A famous hotelier once said that his rooms had to offer a better experience than his guests had at home, otherwise they wouldn’t come!  Obvious I guess, but at several hundreds of pounds per night, expectations would be high, wouldn’t they?  Most of us don’t have that level of spending power, but apparently money’s not the only thing to influence our choice of holiday.  So, what else is at play here?

Sunglasses

Perhaps you stick to a well-loved caravan park or familiar campsite? Do you prefer a roving road trip, ticking off the stops via your Instagram feed, or maybe it’s an all-inclusive with no decisions to be made as everything’s laid on for you? Is it opulent luxury or value for money that excites you most?  And how do you decide?  What are you looking for?  A great tan? Rejuvenation of your body, your mind, your relationship perhaps? New experiences you couldn’t get at home? Bragging rights (ouch!)? or that feeling that you’ve worked hard all year so you deserve it?  Nothing wrong with any of those.  Even bragging rights.  After all we’re human, and competition is an integral part of our psyche (check out Mr C Darwin if you don’t agree).

Beach & deck chairs

In an attempt to be ever-so-slightly scientific, I researched current thinking into the motivations that drive us.  It seems there are around seven of them, as follows:

  • Basic needs:  We prioritise food, water, air, shelter (gin??) 
  • Self-Actualisation: Making the most of a talent – singers, actors, athletes, footballers et al
  • Protection and Safety: Shelter, health, money to buy what we need, access to services & ‘stuff’
  • Love & belonging: Forming relationships and supportive social communities
  • Status & Esteem: Respect, including self-respect, sense of own worth, status and value
  • Mate acquisition: It’s a basic need driven by the need to get our genes passed onward
  • Mate retention: Harder still.  Raising healthy offspring to adulthood (see genes)

I recall Club 18-30 holidays.  I never went on one (far too young), but was brave enough to watch those late-night documentaries.  To be fair, I think the more recent booze-soaked scene full of first-time-without-mum-and-dad holidaymakers, probably beats Club 18-30 pants down (sic), but at the time, it was for those who partied hard, in every sense.  However, doesn’t it fit exactly into the ‘Mate Acquisition’ motivation?  Isn’t it the holiday equivalent of Blind Date but without Cilla, and with loads of alcohol, sunshine and a X Certificate thrown in?  Not hard to see why it was so successful then.

Love & Belonging? Anything with ‘family, ‘romance’ ‘couples only’ or even ‘join like-minded others’, ticks this box.  So, from sun-kissed Caribbean resorts to English stately homes, history cruises, to theme parks, even Butlins.  Each feeds this basic desire to spend quality time with those we care for, or just want to get to know a little better.

Self-actualisation?  I had to look this up so clearly it doesn’t apply to me, but if I was a closet diva, just waiting for Mr Cowell to uncover my latent talent, perhaps this would drive me on.  Desperate to book a Circus Skills school or dabble in watercolours in Tuscany perhaps?  Maybe, the chance to explore a passion and make a career of it would be my equivalent of winning the lottery?  Think Paul Potts.  (Actually, I’ve no idea what happened to him, but I bet it felt great at the time).

So, you get the gist right?  We are all motivated by a combination of basic needs and additional wants in everything we do.

Holiday dog in sunglasses

Like all the best cocktails however, this isn’t about just one thing.  With holidays, most of us see them as the polar opposite of work, the antidote to the daily grind.  For many, the routine of the 9-5 week is something to be escaped from.  We run away, create sharp contrasts to the other 47 weeks of the year.  Whether it’s the schedule (staying up late & long lazy mornings), the food (remember the first time you tried Calamari?), the experiences (would you ride a banana boat in your bikini in the local park?) and even the outfits that you pack as your holiday costume (there’s even such a thing as ‘Cruise Wear’ – who knew!).  All contribute to this feeling of escape, and freedom.

For those who seek prestige and status and happily wear badges to tell the world they’ve made it, an impressive holiday can be considered the ultimate reward for a long year of hard work and big earnings.  Sometimes in direct correlation to their perception of self-worth, spending shed loads of cash on a seven-star exotic long haul bespoke luxury etc experience brings them pleasure in itself.  A sense of appropriate return for their efforts perhaps.

So, it’s less about the location, the accommodation, the food even, and more about how it makes you FEEL.  The feeling of comfort, familiarity, spending quality time, learning and developing, relaxing, indulging or a million other emotional experiences.  That’s what we’re looking for on holiday – that great feeling. And it’s not just during the time you’re away.  It extends to the planning, the discussions, the sharing afterwards and long afterwards too.  It’s the feeling.

Watching a recent series of ‘Rich Holiday, Poor Holiday’, it’s fascinating to see how the big spenders eventually reach the mindset that the producers were no doubt shooting for.  That it’s all about ‘the people you’re with and that feeling of spending quality time together’, leaving the ‘poor’ participants smiling rather smugly as they already knew that, somehow making their predicament more bearable. 

So next time you’re holed up in a chilly caravan, shouting at each other over the din of relentless rain on a metal roof and moaning as the TV’s lost signal and there’s no Netflix. Remember, it’s the feeling of togetherness that counts!  Yeah, no solutions to this one, but after all this is a website about Scottish Gin, so I guess that’s your answer, gin, right there.

Problem solved.

You’re welcome.

With 2021 well underway and Burn’s Night fast approaching, we thought we would share some of our Scottish Gin suggestions to rival any Whisky, for your ‘At Home Burns Supper’ this year. 

Traditionally toasting Robbie Burns with a ‘dram’ of Whisky, and for the true Scots among us, usually neat, we thought we would come up with some Scottish Gin suggestions for all you ‘Lads & Lassies’ out there who want something different this year.  A break from tradition maybe? But we think you will be Ginspired.

GoodWill Gin, GlenWyvis Distillery.

Glenwyvis Distillers based in the Highlands of Scotland, beneath the magnificent Ben Wyvis mountain, on the outskirts of Dingwall.  The team at Glenwyvis Distillery, producers of the Cask Matured GoodWill Quercus Alba Gin could definitely be a contender for your Burns Supper Dram.  A limited Edition, aged in a single American ‘white oak’ Barrel to give it the vanilla notes.  Also producers of GoodWill Quercus Robur, a cask matured, limited edition Scottish craft gin. The difference being this expression is aged in a single 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Hogshead, which gives this gin a richer flavour. An ideal selection for toasting the haggis on Burns night.

Makar Gin, The Glasgow Distillery Co.

Makar Oak Aged Gin is the brainchild of The Glasgow Distillery Co.  Producers of Whisky, Gin, Vodka & Rum, these Distillers have a range that will suit everyone.  The name Makar derives from the ancient Scots word for ‘poet’ – a maker of verse; this is what the team at The Glasgow Distillery are proud to commit to every bottle produced. The award winning Cask Matured Makar Oak Aged Gin is a must for your ever growing Gin Shelf. 

Firkin Gin, Edinburgh

An Edinburgh based award-winning family of Gins; Firkin Gin appeals to traditional drinkers as well as the newbies of the Gin world.  With their distinct branding you can choose from Gins which have been rested in Scottish Islay whisky casks giving them a peaty, smoky finish. If you prefer a lighter tipple, try the Gin rested in American white oak cask or even the French wine cask.  Something even Robbie Burns would approve of.

Lassies Toast Gin, Dunnet Bay Distillers

The title for the most northerly mainland Distillery in the UK belongs to that of Dunnet Bay Distillers, producers of the award-winning Rock Rose Gin.  We all strive to make our Gin Shelves that little bit different and have different expressions for just the right occasion. Why not fill that space on your shelf with the Rock Rose limited edition ‘Lassies Toast Gin’. This gin has been inspired by the Moorland Tea that Robert Burns is rumoured to have enjoyed in his time.  So, come on all you Lassies (& Laddies) order a bottle online in time for Burns Night.

Kilty Gin, Dunblane

In the heart of Scotland, Kilty Gin based in Dunblane. A tipple that sounds ‘the’ most appropriate accompaniment for a Burn’s Supper.  Rowan berries hand picked from just outside the distillery are the key ingredient for this London style dry gin.  With its beautiful tartan ‘Kilty’ label it’s the perfect centre piece for your table. Order online and get your bottles personally etched with initials or name of choice.  For more information and to order online click here.

So whatever tipple you choose to toast the haggis with, make it Scottish. Have a look on our Gincyclopedia to see if there are any more that you would like to try. Buy direct online, and have them delivered right to your door step. Slàinte Mhath!

With Christmas fast approaching, we thought we would give you some ginspiration on what to buy your loved ones this year. So let the Christmas shopping for Scottish Gin beGIN!   There are so many Scottish Gins to choose from so we have picked out a few of the more Christmassy ones to get you started. 

Visit our unique Gincyclopedia too. Where you can plan a future staycation in Scotland and visit one of the many Gin Distilleries, take part in a Gin Experience or treat yourself to a Gin Break!  We also have a downloadable Ginspired Scotland gift voucher that you can print at home, customise yourself and plan your perfect Gin Getaway. Christmas shopping for Scottish Gin couldn’t be easier.

Ginspired Scotland

Escape to some of Scotland’s most beautiful places, while you stay at home with the Ginspired Scotland’s ‘Taste the Adventure’ pack. This Gin Tasting pack contains everything you need to create your holiday to the home of Scottish Gin, including 5 x 50ml samples of Scottish gins along with some local tonic too!

Planning your trip with every sip, this pack is perfect for two to share. Simply pour your Scottish Gin, discover the surrounding area, and plan your trip. Route 1 takes you on the High Road from Glasgow to the Outer Hebrides and back again.

Included Gins: Devil’s Staircase Gin, Isle of Raasay Hebridean Gin, Downpour Gin, Misty Isle Gin, Crossbill Gin

This Gin pack does not include a tutored tasting session, simply open when you are ready, read the tasting notes, follow the route, and enjoy at your own, holiday induced leisure!

Avva Scottish Gin

Multi-Award winning artisan craft gin distillery from Elgin, Speyside.  From Cask finished gin, a Navy Strength expression, colour changing and a pink gin, Avva has something to suit a gin newbie or the gin connoisseur.  Check out their online Christmas shop where you can buy the ‘Berry Bubbles Christmas Fizz’ pack, Cocktail Hampers, and the very adorable Gin Huts. A perfect secret Santa gift, or pop it on your tree to enjoy on the big day.  Prices start from £6. Vouchers are also available.

Porter’s Gin

Based in Aberdeen, the basement of the Orchard Bar is home to Porter’s innovative micro-distillery. Perfecting the Art of ‘Cold Distilling’  Porter’s Gin have a range of Gins online.  Their latest expression inspired by the flavours of Champagne, using cold-distilled green apples and pears with a classic juniper base, and is now available.  Great gift ideas to choose from too.  The 3 x Miniature collection, the Porter’s Scottish Gin Christmas Cracker or why not make someone’s day buy sending them a Negroni!! A ready to drink sealed Negroni with a personalised postcard delivered to the recipient’s door for £10.  Socially distanced Secret Santa sorted.

El-Gin

Distilled and bottled in Elgin, Morayshire, El-Gin is ‘no ordinary gin’.  Scottish Oats are added to give a soft creaminess to the gin.  Head over to the online shop and treat yourself to the ‘Gin-gle Gin’ Christmas spirit which was inspired by a family Christmas cake recipe dating back five generations. Christmas served in a glass.

Selkirk Distillers

Based in the Scottish Borders, Selkirk Distillers produced their first gin in 2017.  The main botanical being the Gorse Flower, also known as the golden flower of Thor, is hand picked, cleaned and dried before infusing it in their Gin.  There second expression was Bannock Gin, the bannock used in this gin comes from Cameron’s Bakery in Selkirk, home of the original bannock.  Both can be ordered in beautifully presented Gin Stars, which would look amazing on a Christmas tree.  For something under the tree order the Ginstar Hamper…Maybe have both!

Persie Gin

At Ginspired HQ the dogs in our life play an important role. Distracting us, keeping us company, and getting us out in all weathers!  So for the dog lover in your family what about Persie Gin.  Persie Distillery joined forces with PADS (Perthshire Abandoned Dogs Society) as its dedicated charity partner. As a keen dog-friendly business, the team’s mission was to release a family of ‘dog gins’ – with different styles of gin reflecting different breeds! For every bottle sold, £1 is donated to PADS to help provide care and shelter for the country’s unwanted dogs.  Choose from a Labrador Gin, Spaniel Gin, Dachshund Gin, Dog Days Gin or have a bottle personalised.  Click here for more details.

North Point Distillers

Crosskirk Bay Gin is the very first Gin from North Point Distillers.  Producing small-batch, sustainable spirits that honour the heritage of Scottish Distilleries and the history of the local area – the beautiful county of Caithness.  Buy online, for all those who want to be up to date with all the latest Scottish Gin and a great addition to anyone’s gin shelf!

Barra Atlantic Gin

Barra Atlantic Gin Christmas Crackers are back this year and are available to pre-order.  If that is not exciting enough, the team at Barra Atlantic are giving ONE lucky winner a chance to win a year’s supply of gin!! All you have to do is find the lucky Golden Ticket!  A Golden Ticket will be placed at random in a set of Barra Atlantic Crackers.  If you win you will receive a bottle of gin at the beginning of each month.  What’s not to like.

We hope we have inspired you to start, finish or even treat yourself to something extra. Christmas shopping for Scottish Gin not only helps support local businesses, but you can do it from the comfort from your own home. Dream of your future Scottish Gin Break, experience or getaway to Scotland and gift it to your nearest and dearest.

Ginspired Logo 'Drew' in his Christmas hat

Gift a Getaway this year and help to support local business in what has been an incredibly tough year for everyone.  Gifting a Getaway will create lasting memories. After all, memories can’t be stored at the back of the cupboard, Great Aunt Jean can’t knit you a memory, and you can’t be given the same memories year after year!

So whether you gift a voucher for a staycation, a locally inspired hamper, a Scottish Gin experience or something that is just that little bit kinder to the environment, we have a list to ginspire your Christmas shopping, (Perhaps you’ll find something to put on your own Christmas list too!)

There’s even a customisable Ginspired Scotland Voucher. Create your own unique gift with our printable Christmas Card. Download and print it, then the rest is up to you…apart from the Scottish Gin part, that’s an absolute must!

Maryculter House, near Aberdeen

Maryculter House is one of the most famous and historic hotels in Aberdeen located on the banks of the River Dee and overlooking the Golf Course of Peterculter. Why not buy a voucher so the lucky person can pick from many of their activity packages that they have available. Or try the new ‘WINTER WARMER PACKAGE’ in partnership with Native Sister.  Book a Stay for dinner, bed, and breakfast, and when you retire to your room, you will receive a Native Sister gift box including two pairs of Tom Lane bed socks and a lavender pillow spray. You will also be able to customise your own night-cap, with all the ingredients for a Bailey’s hot chocolate and a hot toddy supplied at your bedside. Gift vouchers available by phone or email and can be emailed directly to you.

Cook School Scotland, online

The Cook School Scotland has had to diversify over the last few difficult months and now provides the very popular virtual cooking classes from home.  There are a variety of classes from Premium Cook School to Kids Cook School.  These are an online, interactive, and fun session where you can mingle with other guests while preparing and enjoying the menu for the evening. Prior to the class, a box will be delivered to your home with all the ingredients you will need along with instructions on what equipment you will need and how to join us on the evening.  What a great Christmas present for the budding chef in your family.  For more information click here.

Duchally Country Estate, Perthshire

Duchally Country Estate in the beautiful Perthshire is the perfect escape.  The multi-award winning hotel and luxurious lodge resort of enjoys 27 acres of private parkland and gardens. Home to the juniper bushes used in the making of Gatehouse Gin.  Launched in 2019, Gatehouse Gin is a joint venture between CLC Duchally Country Estate and Tony Reeman-Clark, founder of Strathearn Distillery.  Why not book a ‘Gin Break’ or gift a voucher to someone special and make their 2020 something to smile about?  Click here for details.

Pixel Spirits, Ballachulish, near Fort William

The gift of going back to school! Gin School that is. Pixel Spirits is a craft distillery set in the grounds of Loch Leven Hotel in the Scottish Highlands.  The Gin School experience is suitable to individuals, couples or small groups interested in gin distilling. Whether a connoisseur or just wish to know more or experience and learn something new! Live virtual Gin School experiences are also now available for groups.  A perfect gift for a safe Christmas Party or a virtual gathering with friends & family!  Monetary gift vouchers available. Click here for more details.

Highland Safaris, Aberfeldy, Tayside

Highland Safaris and Red Deer Centre has an amazing amount on offer for all the family. From exhilarating Land Rover Safaris, scenic boat trips of Loch Tay, the popular Red Deer Centre, walking and Biking activities and Perthshire’s only Gold and Gem Panning Centre, what’s not to like!  Book an activity of buy a gift voucher for the adventurers in your family.  Click here for more details.

Loch Melfort Hotel, near Oban

Loch Melfort Hotel is a unique retreat, set in 17 acres of gardens and beach on the romantic coast of Argyll in the Scottish Highlands.   Although closed until 29th Jan 2021, why not make the most of their ‘Winter Warmer Breaks’ available in the month of February.  Loch Melfort Hotel is offering a fully flexible Winter Warmer rate to hopefully give peace of mind when booking. Should you need to cancel you can do so with no fees up until 10am the day you are due to arrive. Enjoy a delicious a la carte dinner in our restaurant (or in your room if you prefer) and taste a selection of the finest Scottish produce, including seafood and steak.

Caithness Chocolates, online

Caithness Chocolates, Handmade in the Highlands offer a ‘Make Your Own Chocolate Truffle Kit’. A perfect secret Santa or stocking filler for those tricky to buy people on your list. The kit comes with all the main ingredients, instructions and the box comes with cardboard dividers and ribbon, in case you would like to gift your creations.  Gift it or have a go yourself at being a chocolatier for the afternoon.

The Factor’s House B&B, Cromarty

The Factor’s House B&B is a luxury B&B Accommodation in the Highlands and listed in the Top Picks for Scotland in the 2018 Michelin Guide.  Stay at this luxury B&B and simply get away from it all. Set within private grounds overlooking the Cromarty Firth, you are just a short walk to the beach, quaint shops, bars and eating places. With a 20% discount during November – January 2021 we think a winter break is in order.

Kinloch Lodge Hotel, Isle of Skye

Kinloch Lodge Hotel has unique offers not to be missed.  Why not check out their Sunday Lunch Sleepovers. Or you may prefer the Digital Detox Tweet Retreat. Watch the receptionist lock away your mobile phone – and other digital devices – essential for making the most of the tech-free-pleasures of this new Digital Detox Break. The two-night break includes lots of ‘old-school’ activities like painting and puzzling, to keep your mind occupied. Plus plenty or pampering and relaxation to help you unwind. The weekday special on offer is the Forage, Feast and Distil your own Gin. You will select botanicals that will form the base of your bespoke tipple in a hands-on gin making school, hosted by Skye’s very own expert spirit makers at the Isle of Skye Distillers.  For booking details click here.

The Torridon, Wester Ross

The Torridon, set in the backdrop of the Torridon mountains looking down beautiful Loch Torridon and across its own 58 acre estate. Renowned as a very special oasis of luxury, the hotels 13 beautifully appointed bedrooms offer top notch comfort for a winter or springtime break in this most elegant setting. Mix it up by selecting from the fine dining menu at ‘1887 Restaurant’, or the more informal experience of Bo & Muc.  There are even dog friendly rooms and a self-catering boat house for a longer stay.  We recommend an Arcturus Gin Afternoon Tea, followed by an overnight stay to really relax.  Gift Vouchers are also available and are valid for 12 months, to give maximum flexibility to your gift plans.

Culloden House Hotel, Inverness

Culloden House Hotel is a luxury hotel situated in nearly 40 acres of private gardens and woodlands. Soak up the tranquility and majesty of the grounds. Check out their winter special offers such as the ‘Culloden House Winter Retreat’. Relax in front of the roaring fire with complimentary Afternoon Tea whilst you wind down in time for your amazing 30-minute massage in the comfort of your own room. If you want a bit of adventure try the ‘Culloden House Highland Voyage’. Available from October-March where you can enjoy visiting the historic site of Culloden Battlefield and its fantastic Centre, enjoying the breathtaking scenery of Loch Ness onboard the Jacobite Queen. With entry to the romantic ruins of Urquhart Castle, this package has everything you need to truly experience the Highlands of Scotland.

The Dowans Hotel, Aberlour, Speyside

A family run boutique Scottish hotel on Speyside. Overlooking the village of Aberlour in the heart of the Malt Whisky Trail. The Dowans Hotel really has it all, luxury rooms, a roaring fire, cocktails, a whisky bar, fine dining all while enjoying a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. At the heart of Speyside there is plenty of opportunity to get out and see the beauty of Speyside whatever the season.

Until March 31st 2021, there are a range of specials on offer:-

DBB rate @ £205 for a Deluxe King room (upgrades are available)

A curated led gin tasting @ £25 per person with 3 Speyside gins, their recommended ‘serve’ and an arrival Gin based cocktail (normally £30) – has to be arranged in advance.

Club for B&B, discounted snowboard hire, discounted transport to and from the Lecht or Aviemore and an après ski treat on return from the slopes each day @ £300 per room (upgrades are available)

MacAli Hotel Group Inverness, Nairn, & Lossiemouth

The MacAli Group Scotland operate a number of Hotels, Serviced Accommodation, Restaurants and Take Away Outlets in Northern Scotland including the Golf View Hotel & MacIntosh Restaurant, Lossiemouth, West End Hotel & Restaurant Nairn, Firth Hotel & Restaurant Lossiemouth, and the Crown Court Town House Hotel & Bar in Inverness. All the hotels boast attention to detail and value for money and they’ve all been recently refurbished and finished to a high standard. Have a look at their superb offer valid until April 2021. 1 night dinner (2 courses), bed and breakfast for two people £99.  2 nights (same basis) £139 all with a 48 hour cancellation policy. A great Christmas Getaway Gift idea at a great price.

For all your Getaway Transport needs across the north and east of Scotland. contact DM Executive Travel.

For all bookings mentioning ‘Ginspired Gift a Getaway’, they will offer a 10% discount on rates! Choose from Executive Cars, Range Rovers or Mercedes V Class transfers.

Tor-Na-Coille Hotel & Restaurant, Banchory

Tor na coille Hotel is a privately owned Victorian Country House Hotel located in the village of Banchory on Royal Deeside. Set in acres of wooded grounds, this magnificent granite building enjoys an elevated position offering panoramic views of the surrounding hillside. The property has undergone a full refurbishment bringing it up to a quality 4 star hotel as recognised by Visit Scotland. Buy gift vouchers (valid for 6 months) and check out their latest offers or simply treat yourself to a wee well deserved staycation.

Kildrummy Inn, Strathdon

A traditional inn focusing on excellent food showcasing the best of the rich and diverse Scottish larder. A family owned and run establishment situated at the heart of rural Aberdeenshire, offering a mixture of affordable luxury and comfortable tranquillity. Beautiful countryside views from every bedroom, roaring log fires and deep sofas in our lounge combined with spectacular scenery to explore and enjoy. The location makes Kildrummy Inn an excellent base for touring this beautiful part of the Grampian Mountains & beyond, a great escape for anyone wanting to get away from it all! Gift Vouchers are available (valid for 6 months). Why not treat your friends and meet them there for dinner and overnight?

The Douglas Hotel, Isle of Arran

The Douglas Hotel is the focal point for the village and an ideal base for the discerning traveller. Offering a personalised level of service in luxury and comfort, the knowledgeable Douglas Hotel staff will ensure access to the huge variety of activities available on Arran, whether they be sporting, cultural or historical. Super friendly and already multi award winning, no expense has been spared in creating the unique feel of ‘home away from home’ whilst adding a touch of modern luxury. Although temporarily closed until the 11th December, The Douglas Hotel will remain open for takeaway and why not plan for the future with a voucher or their or take a look at their winter package. starting at £109 per ROOM per night – Midweek (Sun-Thur) £139 per ROOM per night – Weekend (Fri / Sat)

The Saplinbrae Hotel, Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire

Aberdeenshire’s Saplinbrae Hotel has long been known for it’s glorious food and a warm welcome but have you heard of their super gorgeous ‘Catch Up Package’? Two people can share a luxury room, complete with a welcome bottle of prosecco or wine, then have a Scottish gin cocktail & canapes before a three course dinner with wine pairings. All for £200/£220! Your popularity ratings would be sky high if you gifted this one!

Less than one hour by train from Glasgow, and around two from Edinburgh, getting to the Jewel of the Clyde, or Great Cumbrae , couldn’t be easier.  It makes a perfect destination for a Ginspired short break or just a day trip.  You don’t even need your car!

Neither will it break the bank.  A full rail return from Glasgow costs less than £20.  Add the ferry (£3.40) and a brief bus fare, and you’re on one of the Clyde’s prettiest islands, with lots to see and do, even if the weather isn’t at it’s best.


Cumbrae has been inhabited since the 13th Century, and played a part in subduing Clyde Smugglers in the 1700s.  It was a favourite for holidaymakers in the 50s and 60s as they headed ‘doon the watter’, but has recently seen growing numbers of visitors who enjoy the peace and quiet, spectacular views, and a gentle pace of life.  People talk of a feeling of relaxation slipping over them as they head out on the 10 minute ferry ride from Largs to the Cumbrae Slip. Isn’t that something we could all use just now? Welcome to island life.

Once on this island of 1000 bicycles, (and three bicycle hire shops) there’s plenty to occupy come rain or shine.  

Nostalgin from Cumbrae

First stop has to the newly opened Cumbrae Gin Distillery.  Technically not quite yet a distillery, but locally produced ‘Nostalgin’ has proved so popular that the island ran out of tonic when it was first released in September 2020! 

Learn more at Isle of Cumbrae Distillers

 

Don’t worry though, there’s plenty to go around now, and Nostalgin is widely stocked in pubs and bars across the island. Do pop in to the shop and visitor centre by Millport’s harbour.  Sit by the roaring log fire, chat to the all-female team of founders, and enjoy a sample of this delicious gin.  Make sure you buy at least one bottle to take home with you.  There’s mail order too if you don’t want to carry it.  From around March 2021 tours should be possible, but for now enjoy being the first of your friends to sample one of Scotland’s newest gins.

 

If your tooth is sweet and your appetite bolstered by the cooler days and longer nights, you’ll need no persuasion to visit Brewbakers of Millport.  Here Johanna produces amazing chocolates, bread, cakes, quiches, biscuits and any manner of treats.  Including, Nostalgin infused chocolate truffles!  Now how can you miss those? 


If you need to burn off some of those delicious calories, Cumbrae has its very own James Braid designed golf course, and hiring a bike and cycling the 10 mile or so perimeter road is a popular pastime on a bright sunny day.  Some of the bikes available come with three or four wheels, or try a tandem. (Sit at the back and no one knows you’re not pedalling, just eating more truffles!)

Perhaps you prefer to stay on your own two feet, in which case a short climb to the Glaid Stone will reward you with views all around on a clear day, and keep you warm into the bargain.

On days when the clouds are also visiting Cumbrae, leave them outside while you visit the beautifully restored Garrison House in the centre of Millport.  Built in 1745 it’s now home to a museum (free admission) telling stories of Cumbrae’s past as an anti-smuggling station. It also has a model railway on display, a craft shop and a café.  Truly something for everyone.  The UK’s smallest cathedral, The Cathedral of the Isles, is also in Millport, and provides retreat-style accommodation for visitors too. When hunger bites, both the Newton Bar and Frasers Bar offer good pub food and also Nostalgin (with plenty tonic back in stock!).  So, complete your day with a hearty meal before heading back to the ferry and your return to the real world.  Or stay overnight and enjoy more island life tomorrow.  Those truffles are very moreish after all!

Starfish

‘Sustainability’ must be one of the most over-worked words of the last few years, as we try to find ways to reduce our impact on the planet we call home. Read on to find out more about sustainable travel around beautiful Scotland.

Sometimes it feels as though we’re trying to hold back an inevitable tide of global warming, ozone thinning, and sea level rises, but channelling the ambition of King Canute, we can make a difference, each in a small way, which will delay those incoming waves just a little longer.


Travel is of course one of the main casualties of Covid 19. Not just for leisure either, but businesses have quickly adapted to online conferences and video meetings.  From nature’s perspective however, it’s been a wonderful break from the impact our activities have on our environment.  Pollution levels dropped, air quality improved, and the warming slowed down. 

6 TIPS TO DO OUR BIT!

The challenge post-Covid is to rebuild with our planet’s needs in the front and centre of our minds, and here are six little ways in which we can all do our bit:-

Plan on line.

Most of us do, but there’s still a temptation to pick up glossy brochures or print out travel guides to take with us.  These days there’s really no need to use paper, when you can carry it all with you on a smart phone or laptop.

Visit out of season.

Why not?  Why are you going to your chosen destination?  If it’s an event or something fixed in the calendar then clearly you have no choice, but if it’s to enjoy the landscapes, the architecture, the history, the food and drink, then surely it’s better to go when the crowds are gone, the roads are emptier and the prices are lower?  It also reduces the impact on some of the most visited spots too.

Use public transport

If you can.  If you’re travelling in a group then the car might be the greenest and most cost-effective option, but if it’s just one or two of you consider the bus or train, and possibly a car share scheme for local travel?  Many of the scheduled bus routes will take you through spectacular scenery and you can simply sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

Stay longer in one place.

There’s a trend for road-trips just now which involve covering long distances in short time frames.  Even writing that down feels wrong.  How can you really visit the places on the map if you’re only seeing them out of the car windows?  Spending a little longer means getting out and walking, or maybe cycling or taking a bus.  Shopping, talking to residents, eating the local food delicacies and trying the local beer, gins and whiskies. Spending a little money in local businesses and contributing to the economy, not to the congestion. The relaxed pace, the engagement and the time to draw breath, all make for a much better experience for you as a visitor.

Leave nothing but footprints.

It’s an obvious one, but we still see litter left in remote mountain or loch side locations, presumably by people who’ve gone there to enjoy the beautiful landscapes!  It beggars belief, but is probably just casual thoughtlessness in action.  If you can bear it, take other people’s rubbish away too.  The moral high ground now truly has your name tattooed on it!

Buy smart.

Don’t go to a rural area and take everything you plan to eat and drink with you.  Those small shops and independent retailers really value your business.  If you run out of something you’ll be relying on them after all, so why not intentionally spend some of your food budget locally too?  It’s a good way of getting to know people and perhaps getting some great tips on what to see and do during your extended stay as well!

So, there you have it.  You can make a difference. 

You heard the story of the girl on the beach carefully picking up stranded starfish and gently placing them back in the sea?   A passer by asked her what she was doing, and she explained that they would die if they stayed too long out of the water.  ‘But there are hundreds of them’, he said.  ‘You can’t possibly make a difference here’.  She rescued another starfish as he spoke. ‘Well I made a difference to that one’ she said. 

Go make a difference!


Keep up-to-date with all things Scottish Gin & Tourism by signing up to our Newsletter

The change of seasons brings a reminder that nature will pursue her cycle of newness, growth, seed setting and dormancy despite everything we throw at her, either intentionally or through human carelessness.

This year, summer as we know it didn’t happen. Children didn’t attend end of term parties and proms, families didn’t take their summer holidays, visits to Grandma & Grandad were cancelled, and even barbecues and get togethers were stymied, by the big black cloud of Covid, hanging over the world.  Yet still the trees grew, the crops formed, the new grass fed the animals and the earth kept turning.

So here we are, clocks a changing, nights coming earlier and leaves falling like rust from underneath my first car, with perhaps several more months of limited social lives ahead of us. 

Tempting as it may be to hibernate until it’s all over, we have to find new ways of getting our happiness buckets refilled, and maybe the natural world is where we’ll find them.

Autumnal trees
Autumn Trees

Fortunately, in Scotland our natural world has a wealth of wonders in every season.  No-one ever came here for a suntan, and our scenery is always spectacular whether in sunshine or on stormy days.  The wilder the storm, the brighter the rainbow after all! 

So, let’s set our sights on what we CAN do, what IS open, and what WONDERFUL experiences we can gather over the next few months.

Summer holidays might have been in short supply, but what’s to stop you having a couple of wee ‘chill breaks’ during the winter and early spring? Travelling as a couple or a family is generally possible, and the simplicity of shorter, low key breaks means less pressure and the associated stresses of complex arrangements. Even if the restrictions are tightened, these trips aren’t planned weeks ahead, so there’s usually some wriggle room built in.

And guess what?  We have some great ideas for you!

Let’s start off with a series covering the Clyde Islands of Cumbrae, Arran and Bute. Three very different islands, offering a world of experiences, and each with one great thing in common: yes, they all have a wonderful Scottish Gin to explore!

So, why not book a winter trip to one or more of these islands, or better still, book it as a gift! What could be lovelier in a loved one’s Christmas Stocking!

 

Here at Ginspired Scotland HQ we love all the ‘spooktakular’ Gins that Scotland has to offer. With Halloween looking a little different this year for everyone we thought we would share some that the grown ups can ‘trick or treat’ themselves too. 

So if there is one that you have been ‘dying’ to try, have a look at our online sales page and get it delivered straight to your door.  Have a ‘Fangtastic’ Halloween!!

Brought to you by the team at Black Thistle Distillery, based in Brechin, these gins would make an impressive addition to your ‘Halloween Gin Shelf’. Black Mist is perfect for cocktails, and their shimmer gin will leave you mesmerised by its intensely dark nature. Green Mist, Kiwi and Mint is also a shimmer gin and will turn your socially distant friends green with envy!

Stirling Distillery’s range of Gins the ‘Green Lady’ is a must to try on ‘All-Hallows Eve’. As part of their folklore Collection, this mint and bramble liqueur is in memory of a lady in waiting to Mary Queen of Scots. However, after perishing in a fire inside Stirling Castle her ghost roams its hallways and spells danger for any who see her. Are you brave enough to plan a visit there? Click here for details.

Solway Spirits, based in the beautiful Annan along the Solway Coast, paying homage to a great Gin of yesteryear, “Old Tom”. Their range consists of the Classic Gin, Bramble, Turkish Delight and Cherry Almond Bakewell…What’s not to like!

Based in Glasgow in a re-purposed railway arch under the train tracks that serve Glasgow’s famous Central Station, Illicit Spirits embrace the city’s industrial heritage and DIY-ethos. The ‘Black List’ is a smoked gin with Scottish peat, and it’s black!! Recommended serves are ‘The Neat‘ or the more contemporary serve ‘The Black Stuff‘ A must for halloween really!

Caorunn Gin nestled in the Scottish Highlands has a range of gins inspired by their beautiful and tranquil surroundings. They include a Scottish Raspberry Gin, however if your feeling like something a liitle stronger try out the powerful Caorunn Highland Strength at a bolder 54% ABV. Check out their Gin Cocktail page and browse through the amazing choice of Caorunn serves. Make sure and check out ‘Halloween Juice‘ sounds ‘Spooktakular’

We hope we have Ginspired you to try some new ‘Halloween’ Scottish Gins.

NB. No apologies are being made for any of the halloween puns.

Low sun over the mountains in Scotland

Autumn has definitely arrived, and here in Scotland it is one of the most beautiful times to plan your next visit.

Trees ablaze with oranges & reds of all shades imaginable, on a backdrop of the deep evergreen colours, a truly a special time of year.

With an abundance of outdoor activities at every turn, cycling, walking, munro bagging, touring Castles, lochs or even white water rafting, the colours that surround you will make it an even more memorable experience.  So pack a picnic and add some autumnal feeling Scottish Gins to make it completely picture perfect!

So wherever you plan to soak up the autumnal colours of Scotland, and whatever Gin you pair it with, check out our Gincyclopedia for help in planning your next memory making adventure.

Taste the Adventure Pack

Each pack contains 5 x 50ml samples of the gins featured (enough for two good measures) plus Scottish Tonic and the Travel Guide full of hints and suggestions for Route

To celebrate the fact that we are now able to at least plan a getaway for later in the year, we are giving away 4 Ginspired Scotland ‘Taste the Adventure’ tasting packs in our latest competition, over the next 4 weeks!

Sign up to our eNewsletter to be in with a chance of winning. Never miss out on Scottish Gin news again.

Retailing at £34.99, this makes for a great way to spend an evening with your favourite Adventurer. Plan your next trip to Scotland sip by sip! Click the ‘buy’ button above to order and have it delivered straight to your door.

Competition Rules

Ginspired Scotland Competitions are in no way sponsored, endorsed, associated with or administered by Instagram or Facebook.

Competitions are only open to UK residents aged over 18 years (legal drinking age)

This Competition ends on Friday 23rd April 2021.

Winners will be drawn on at random on Saturday 24th April 2021 and winners will be notified by email.

Ginspired Scotland's interactive map showing destination points.

Check out our Gincyclopedia for more Ginspired travel ideas around Scotland. Plan every detail of your stay-cation, from accommodation, places to eat, golf, castles, beauty spots and of course Scottish Gin. Lots and lots of Scottish Gin.

Book direct through our map and create your own travel itinerary to share with your travel companions.

Or Ginspired Scotland’s contribution to National Poetry Day

Mars Bars
The Raw Ingredient

We’ve Castles and Cabers and Coos by the score

We’ve Whiskies, great Gins even wine and there’s more

We’ve mountains and rivers, heathered hills, sandy shores

Fine food, fresh clean air and our water’s so pure

***

We’ve world leading skills in all the right places

We’ve technical excellence and cover all bases

We’ve creatives, clear voices and beautiful faces

And a rich mix of people from all different races

***

Our cities are photographed, painted and longed for

Our crags and our glens people even write songs for

New lands caused new places to carry names yearned for

Our clans and our language, even tartan, was fought for

***

So why is it, when other folk talk of ‘the Scot’

It’s not beautiful landscapes that claim the prime spot

But deep-fried Mars Bars, of which I’ve seen not a jot

(Or purse strings permanently tied in a knot)

***

Since lock down’s embrace foiled the supply of warm hugs

Since the rainbow covered everything from jumpers to mugs

Since ‘Be Kind’ was heard clearly by everyone’s lugs

Can’t we lose the old way, because to me, oh it bugs?

***

So next time you see us portrayed with unkindness

Stand up, say your piece, don’t give in to this blindness

Retort, send them hame and I reckon you’ll find yes….

That our nation of Scotland will be shown as the finest.

***

Over and out Gin Lovers

Happy National Poetry Day!

Support your gin producers offering online sales, and keep your spirits up too.

During these challenging times, it’s vital that you don’t run out of your favourite Scottish Gins.

Online sales direct from the links below.



1881 Distillery

 

Overnight Gin Distiller packages available.

 



Alexander’s Gin

  


Antonine Wall Gin

  


Ar Baile Gin

 Free delivery over £40 on online orders.


Arbikie

  


Arcturus Gin

  


Arisaig Gin

 Miniatures Available.


Avva Scottish Gin

 
Gin & Tonic Packs & Gift Sets available online.
Bespoke Hampers also available.



Badachro Gin

  NEW Orangey Orains Gin now available.


Badvo Distillery

  


Bardowie Gin

  


Ben Lomond Gin

 New Blackberry & Gooseberry infused Gin and Raspberry & Elderflower infused Gin.


Biggar Gin

  


Blackford Distillery

 Hand Sanitiser available.



Black Thistle Gin

  


Boë Gin

 New Apple & Lime Gin.
Free shipping on all orders over £25.


Byron’s Gin

  


CannaB Gin

 Free UK delivery.


Cairngorm Gin

 

Cairngorm Gin Bundles now available.
Stemmed, and stemless Glass to enhance your Cairngorm Gin experience, now available.





Crofters Tears & Caithness Gin

  


Caorunn Gin

 Check out their Virtual Bar for a range of cocktail recipes.


Carnoustie Distillery

  


City Of Aberdeen Distillery

 

New for 2021 – Private Virtual Events!



Clachaig Gin

  


Colonsay Gin

 Colouring books, Art, Gin infused Chocolates and of course Colonsay Gin available to buy online.


Crag & Tail

 Use code BAGCRAG for free delivery.
New 20cl size now Available.


Crossbill Gin

 


Daffy’s Gin

 Free UK Delivery on orders over £50.


Darnleys Gin

  


Deerness Distillery

 

 

 

 



Dr Osbournes Gin

  


Duncan’s Gin

  


Eden Mill

 
 
Eden Mill 0% ABV Love ‘Gin’ and Rose Lemonade cans are perfect for all Love Gin lovers to enjoy the authentic taste of Eden Mill without the alcohol!

 


Edinburgh Gin ready to drink cans
Edinburgh Gin

 Edinburgh Gin Perfect Serve Cans now available.


Eenoo Gin
  


Eight Lands Gin
  


Electric Spirit Co.

  


El-Gin

  


Ellis Gin

 

Shimmer Gin & Colour Changing Gin available online.

 


Esker Gin tour itinerary
Esker Gin

 Esker Tshirt merchandise now available online.


Fairytale Distillery Highland Gin

 Fairytale Distillery’s new No 57 Navy Strength version of Summer Gin now available online.


Felons Gin

  


Fidra Gin

 Free UK delivery


Fierce Spirits

  


Firkin Gin

  


Garden Shed Gin

 
Donatation to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust for every bottle sold.


Gathehouse Gin

  


Gilt Gin

  


Ginkhana

  


Gintì

 Scottish Tea Gin, Apple & Bramble Tì Bags and Scottish Tea Plants all available online.


Glaswegin

 Chilly’s bottle & Glaswegin Gin Goblet Glass now Available online.


GoodWill Gin

 Take the Virtual Tour of the Distillery from the comfort of your own home.
Use code VR10 for 10% off a 5cl of our GoodWill Gin from our online shop!


Gordon Castle Gin

 A perfect bespoke special gift, order your own personalised bottle of Gordon Castle Botanical, Plum or Raspberry Gin.


Gorse Gin

 10% off when you sign up to the newsletter.
Miniature Packs now available.


Granite North Gin

  

Hendrick’s Gin

  


Hrafn Gin

 FREE download Cocktail Booklet.


Hills and Harbour Gin

  


Holyrood Gin

 


House of Elrick Gin
House of Elrick Gin

  


Illicit Spirits

  


Inshriach Gin

  


Inspirited

 Inspirited is the personalised gin gifting experience. Pick from a huge range of ingredients Inspirited bring it together. Personalise your gin with customised labels and messages for a unique gift experience.
Gift Vouchers available.


Inverurie Whisky Shop

 Tasting Events, Tours, Distillery Visits, Online sale of Scottish Gin, Whisky and more.


Isle of Arran Gin

  


Isle of Barra Atlantic Gin
  


Isle of Bute Gin

  


Nostalgin bottle on a scenic backdrop
Nostalgin
  


Isle of Harris Gin

 New Harris Cèilidh bottle now available.



Isle of Iona Gin

  


Isle of Raasay Gin

 

 

Isle of Raasay Gin & Whisky Candle Set.




Jaggi Gin

  


Kilty Gin

  


King’s Hill Gin

 Stunning new bottle design now available.


Kinrara Distillery Gin

 

 

 



Kintyre Gin

  


Kirkjuvagr Gin

  


Leith Gin

  


Lenzie Gin

  


Lilliard Gin

  


LinGin

 Linlithgow Distillery have launched their new “LinGin Colours” range of gin products.  Available online.


Lind & Lime Gin

 Distilled with 100% clean electricity.
Packaged with 100% plastic free materials.
Produced with (almost) 100% organic ingredients.


Little Brown Dog Spirits

  


Lochaber Gin

  


Loch Leven Gin

  


Lone Wolf Gin

  


Lunun Gin

 Classic Lunun Gin, Jamberry and Brambley, all available to buy online.


Lussa Gin

 New Lussa Gin bottle openers now available on the website.



Mackintosh Gin

  


Makar Glasgow Gin

 

 



McGin

  


McLean’s Gin


  


McQueen Gin

  


Miss G. Gorgeous Scottish Gin

  


Misty Isle Gin

 

 



Montgomery Donald’s Proper Drinks Company

 Fresh natural botanically infused mixers to make at home.
Free UK Delivery.


NB Gin

 Free delivery in the UK.


Nerabus Gin

  


North Uist Distillery

 

Downpour Gin & Gift Box available online.

Free Delivery.



Old Poison Distillery

 

Selkie Gin Anniversary Limited Edition



Orkney Gin Company

  


Oro Gin

 

Oro Gin Hampers available online.

 



Pentland Hills Gin

 Refillable Gin Bottles.
Buy one bottle of Pentland Hills Gin.
Once you have savoured the contents, just place your empty bottle back in box and post it back. 
New Navy Strength Gin Now Available.


Persie Gin

  


Perth Gin

 Free UK delivery on all orders over £35.


Pickering’s Gin

 Pickerings Gin 1 Litre bottle now available.
Free Mainland UK delivery with orders over £35.


Pilgrim’s Gin

  


Pips, Peels & Roots Gin

  


Pixel Spirits Distillery & Gin School

 FREE postage to the UK for all 70cl bottles.
LIVE Virtual Gin School Experiences!
Watch your gin being distilled live on one of our mini stills at the distillery’s Gin School and a full bottle of your own creation with a personalised label will then be posted to your home!


Porters Gin

 Porters Latest Champagne inspired expression now available.


Redcastle Gin

  


Red Door Gin

 Free Delivery on all orders.


Ripple Gin
 10% off when you sign up to the newsletter.
Miniature Packs now available.


Rock Rose Gin

 
 
Rock Rose have launched a ‘Refill Rewards Club’, a subscription service of spirit pouches, which make sure members never have to worry about pouring the last drop from the bottle again!


Roehill Springs Distillery

 

Roehill Springs Blue, colour-changing Gin now available. 

FREE DELIVERY on ALL orders across our range of products (gin, glasses, candles, keyrings) from now until further notice.



Selkirk Distillers

  


Scottish Rugby Gin

  

Seven Crofts Gin bottle range
Seven Crofts Gin

 Seven Crofts Fisherman’s Strength now available.

Shetland Reel Gin

 Sign up to the newsletter and save 10% on first order.
Viking Merchandise now available online.


Skye Gin

 Free UK Delivery
Save £5 on every 2 bottles purchased together.


Smithies Gin

 New Smithies Rosemary Gin now available.


Solway Spirits

 

Join the Subscription Club and you’ll receive a 50ml miniature bottle of Solway Spirits Gin, a mixer and tasting notes in the post every month!

Navy Strength Ginsignia now available

Free delivery on online orders over £25



SOS Gin

  


South Loch Gin

  


Springmount Spirits

 Springmount London Dry Gin Miniature Gift Set. Now available on Amazon Prime! 


Stirling Gin

 



Sutors Gin

  

Scottish food and gin hamper
Tayport Distillery

 A range of gift sets and hampers available online.


Teasmith Gin

  


The Botanist

  


The Dundee Gin Co.

 

  


The Edinburgh Ice Company

  


The Gael

 
  


The Gin Bothy

 

 

 



The House of Botanicals

 

Gift packs and bundles available online.

Now available on Amazon


 

The Kelso Gin Company

 

  

Old Curiosity Distillery
 The UK’s first all natural Non-Alcoholic Spirit now available.


The Ullapool Gin

  


The Wee Farm Distillery
 

 



Tobermory Hebridean Gin

 New limited edition colouring in book and award winning Tobermory gin bundles available.


Thompson Bros. Organic Highland Gin

  


Tyree Gin image
Tyree Gin

  


Verdant Dry Gin

 Free Delivery


Wallhouse Gin

  



Whitetail Gin

 Free delivery on all orders over £38.


Wild Island Botanic Gin

  


Williams Kerr’s Gin

  
 

And if you need extras, we have just the tonic!

 


Walter Gregor’s Tonic Water

Cushiedoos Tonic 

For UK you can order cases of Cushiedoos (24x200ml bottles) from Royal Mile Whiskies.
For amounts less than 24 you can order by going to Craft56

Montgomery Donald’s Proper Drinks Company

 A range of Make-your-own Tonic kits. Available online.

All we need now is to source some ‘teleportable’ lemons and limes………, don’t worry, we’re working on it!

Online Sales of Scottish Gin image
Online Sales of Scottish Gin

Travelling through time.

Royal Deeside, in the North Eastern Highlands, is a remarkable region spanning only 50 miles or so from east to west along the banks of the mighty River Dee.  The ‘Royal’ suffix came only after Queen Victoria set up home here in 1852, but it’s association with kings and powerful leaders is evident from many hundreds of years before that.  The river’s name, the Dee means ‘Goddess’, and it’s clear that the river influences this area in far more varied ways than just lending it her name.  Join us as we explore this fascinating corner of Scotland, in our latest Ginspired Day Trip to Royal Deeside.  We’re calling this one ‘Travelling through Time’.


Map of Deeside for Day Trip

Getting here is easy especially if you’re in Aberdeen!  The River Dee reaches the sea in the Granite City, so you could be said to be in Deeside without ever leaving the 30mph zone, but just a few miles west of this elegant cosmopolitan oil capital you reach the real Deeside.  Soft green country, forests, farmland, castles, and of course the sinuous River Dee stitching it all together.  Dundee and Perth are also within easy day tripping reach, and you can approach from the south on the Snow Road route of the A93 over Glenshee, which is a treat in itself.  The railway line no longer reaches into Deeside, but there is a reasonable bus service running the length of the strath to assist travellers.

 

The land where time began

Whether you echo Mary Poppins or Lewis Carroll, every good story should start at the beginning, and there can be no better beginning than what may very well be the beginning of time.  For that is what was recently uncovered in Royal Deeside. 

An aerial survey showed signs of an early structure beneath a barley field close to Crathes Castle.  Investigation began with the hope that the remains of a timber hall would be discovered, similar to one found at nearby Balbridie.  This was thought to be around 1500 years old, and possibly built by travellers from Southern Europe who would have sailed to Scotland in boats made from wooden frames and animal skins.  High hopes indeed, but the reality far exceeded the archaeologists’ expectations!

What they found was a series of pits and post holes, constructed in such a pattern that they can only have been used as an early solar or lunar calendar. The posts align with the midwinter sunrise and would have been a means for these hunter gatherers to track the changing seasons and measure the passing of time, rather than simply observe it.  The markers even line up with a notch on the horizon between two hills, which would have allowed for the annual readjustment required between the lunar month and the solar year.  Similar sites have been discovered in Mesopotamia (now largely Iraq), but the Warren Field site on the banks of the River Dee is far earlier, from around 9800 years ago. 

As scientists from the University of Birmingham put it, ‘Could this be where ‘time’ began?’

Warren Field diagram for Day Trip to Royal Deeside
The Royal Deeside ‘Time Machine’ from almost 10,000 years ago.

They Rock…

Tomnaverie Stone Circle Royal Deeside

Our Solar Calendar pre-dates the Pictish past of Scotland by some 3000-6000 years, but here in Royal Deeside we have carved stones, standing stone circles and recumbent stone circles all giving clues to the culture and beliefs of our fishing and farming ancestors.  Some appear to be ceremonial sites, others used for burials, and yet more for following the moon and stars.  The circle at Tomnaverie near Tarland appears to pay reverence to the mountain of Lochnagar, which is clearly framed above its recumbent stone ‘altar’ and between the two uprights at either side.  Perhaps moons and mountains were the celebrities of the Pictish age and Tomnaverie was an early equivalent of Instagram? 😊  


Time to talk about the GIN!

There’s a wealth of Scottish Gin produced in Aberdeen and out into Deeside. Some offer visitor experiences, others are brands you should look out for. All are unique!

Please always check ahead if you’d like to arrange a visit.

City of Aberdeen Distillery & Gin School – the first distillery in Aberdeen for nearly 80 years and home to the Aberdeen Gin School. Owned and run by two friends, the distillery is situated in the heart of the Scottish City of Aberdeen (the Silver City with the Golden Sands), within a historic railway arch where true small batch Aberdeen Gins are designed and distilled. The distillery is open to visitors who are invited to sample from the demi-johns (fill a bottle), enjoy a Distillery Tour, Gin Tasting Masterclass or even distil your very own 70cl bottle of gin at the Gin School Experience. Find out more about their visitor experiences here…


The House Of Botanicals is the home of an array of botanical based beverages including the House of Botanicals Old Tom Gins, the Dr. Adam’s Cocktail Bitters portfolio, and the forthcoming Italian influenced Pietro Nicola range; with liqueurs, amari and fortified wine in development.
Family run by Adam & Steffie Elan-Elmegirab, The House of Botanicals operates with a zero-waste ethos and ethically sources all our raw materials. Our sole desire is to create a range of unique, quality, hand-crafted products for the growing demands of the beverage industry, with the spotlight shone on botanicals and the influence they have in the world of mixed drinks. Find out more about their products here ……


Porter’s Gin – With a passion for creating better drinks, we turned the basement of our bar, Orchid, in Aberdeen, Scotland into one of the UK’s most innovative micro-distilleries. We built our own vacuum still, which distills botanicals at low temperatures, retaining their fresh, natural flavour. While working closely with the UK’s most respected Gin Distillers, we perfected the art of cold distilling botanicals. This respect for tradition while innovating results in exceptionally well balanced, refined, high quality gin recipes that bring together the best of classic and contemporary botanical distilling. Find out more about their visitor experiences here…

Canna’B – Aberdeen-based firm specialising in CBD liquor: rum and gin infused with hemp and CBD.
Husband and wife team Calum and Rebecca Napier who are behind it also run The Wee Hemp Company, a CBD-based firm which won Scotland’s Micro Business of the Year in 2019’s FSB Awards.
The Wee Hemp Company was launched in May 2018, largely thanks to Rebecca’s inspiring experiences with CBD.
Wee Hemp Spirits currently offers hemp-infused Canna’B Gin and Canna’B Rum, with a full spectrum limited edition CBD-infused Canna’B Spirits about to be released.
The name ‘Canna’B’ is a smart play on Scottish dialect, pronounced ‘cannae be,’ as in ‘cannot be.’ It also serves as a neat reference to the cannabis sativa L plant and the bees which provide the honey used in these CBD liquor products.
Find out more about their products here….


Launched in 2017, Still River is famous for producing the ‘world’s strongest gin’; its award winning 77% ABV strength Naked Uncut Gin.
Part of Deeside Distillery, Banchory is home to the Still River team and their experimental work led by head distiller Liam Pennycook. With the aim of producing original and innovative spirits, the distillery produces its own base spirit for various drinks, placing it alongside only a handful of other Scottish distilleries who use this approach of creating their base spirit from scratch. Find out more about them here……


Granite North – Taking its name from the rock so closely associated with the North East of Scotland, Granite North Gin is inspired by the rugged peaks and ancient forests of the Scottish Highlands.
Developed for the modern adventurer, Granite North is a smooth London gin packed with flavour. A juniper-forward gin, its fresh, citrus taste is smooth enough to drink on its own or with a light tonic to release even more of its zesty flavour. Its outdoor personality is revealed in the subtle infusion of Grand Fir needles that complement the native taste of its juniper cousin, helping to summon the fresh aromas of the pure mountain air.
Handcrafted in small batches in Scotland, Granite North Gin is distilled using water from the nearby Cairngorm Mountain range. With its rich contour of flavours capturing the essence of the rugged Highland landscape, Granite North Gin will warm on the coldest winter nights and refresh on the balmiest of summer days.
Find out more about their products here…

The Tippling House, on Belmont Street in Aberdeen is the place to sample amazing gin cocktails. Look at the wonderful array here! Why not make it your late night favourite at the end of your Ginspired Day Trip to Royal Deeside. Also the home of Jindea Single Estate Tea Gin. Find out more by clicking here

Esker Scottish Gin Vibrant Blue bottle with refreshing glass of Gin & Tonic

Founded in 2015, Esker Spirits was established to embrace innovation and produce a Scottish gin that delivers a real taste experience.
We have changed the thinking behind the traditional gin flavours and using silver birch sap, a feature of Royal Deeside, challenged the traditional botanicals and gin recipes.
Our Distillery.
A place of stunning natural beauty, Esker Spirits is produced in the heart of Scotland on the Kincardine Estate, Royal Deeside.
Our gins are produced in copper stills in the distillery using over a dozen botanicals, including locally sourced silver birch sap, heather, citrus and spice.
Find out more about their products here….

The Lost Loch Distillery just outside Aboyne. is home to Eenoo Gin, and Springmount Gin. Micro-tours and full on gin schools are run regularly, but do get in touch to check the current situation. It’s a great opportunity to create your own gin as well as learning the art of spirit production. For more information, click here ……

Maryculter House Hotel on the western fringes of Aberdeen is the ideal place to begin or end your Deeside Day Trip. The hotel dates back to the 12th Century and has links to the Knights Templar. They have a house gin, The Knights Gin, which is perfectly served with Templar Tonic! Find out more here.

Ancient & Modern

Migvie Kirk cemetry as part of Ginspired Scotland Royal Deeside day trip series.

Take yourself to the beautiful memorial of nearby Migvie Kirk, on the Tillypronie Estate, lovingly restored by the Laird Philip Astor in honour of his late parents.  A precarious Pictish Cross Slab is found in the kirkyard, with ornate carvings of a horse and rider.  The deconsecrated kirk itself is deceptively simple from the outside, but once inside the carved oak doors replicating the design on the Pictish stone, a wondrously light space filled with artworks and artisan furniture, all by local creatives, is uncovered. There are no signs to guide you here, you have to find it yourself, that’s part of the charm. So it’s our secret, a gift from me to you!

Charms & Legends

Back to the River, our Goddess.  A 2000 year old tradition has it that we should cast silver or song into the water for good luck.  In my case I’d better save up, as my singing voice is unlikely to summon anything positive. This may be an antidote to another legend, not unique in these parts, that of the water sprite or Kelpie.  Now recognisable from the glorious sculptures at The Helix near Falkirk, Kelpies were thought to be shapeshifters, sometimes appearing as men, other times as writhing, twisting horses.  They could be kind and generous for needy folk, but they could also turn wicked and vengeful, luring the unwary to their watery lairs and inevitable doom (think Private Fraser from Dad’s Army – dooooom!).  There are many tales of Kelpies in this area, and parents have long used the stories as a way of making their children fearful of getting too close to the waters edge.  No bad thing indeed.  However, these tales can make a lasting impression, as an old lady, interviewed just before her ninetieth year recalled how her father (a farmer) always kept a halter on a hook beside the back door, ‘just in case the Kelpie came’, in the hope he might be able to control it.  She was a firm believer, as clearly her father had also been! 

What a Racket!

Another unique watery feature of Royal Deeside is the impressive Burn O’Vat.  It’s a natural pot hole carved out of rock by stones grinding together underneath a retreating ice shelf, some 14,000 years ago.  These days, easily found near to Loch Kinord, it’s a lovely excuse for a walk amid birch trees and bird song to the narrow entrance, and then into the Vat itself.  It is said that legendary cattle thief Rob Roy McGregor hid his stolen animals here, as the noise of the rushing water muffled their moos to passers-by!  Above the waterfall is a stone where Jacobite survivors are said to have met after Culloden to plan their next, but ultimately futile, move.

Molehills

Ballater is well known for its plethora of Royal Warrants above shop doorways.  The Royal Warrant is granted from a member of the Royal Household to a business which supplies it with goods or services, to a very high standard. The nearby Highland home of the British Royal Family at Balmoral Castle, means that many local businesses from the town have achieved this accolade over the years.

At present, Royal Warrants can only be granted by HM Queen Elizabeth II, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales, Duke of Rothesay.  To belong to the Royal Warrants Association is a highly cherished honour.  Warrant holders must follow strict rules regarding the use of the warrant or risk losing it, as happened to Rigby & Peller in 2018.  Apparently, they disclosed too much detail in an account of their role as purveyors of undergarments to HM Queen Elizabeth.  A storm in a D cup perhaps?  You decide.

Mountains

Walking Trail by Loch Muick part of Ginspired Scotland day trip to Royal Deeside

Balmoral Castle itself is just a few miles west of Ballater, and available to visit when the family are not in residence.  It isn’t possible to see inside the Castle itself but there is a good visitor centre, exhibition spaces and you do get to meet the Queen’s own ponies, which are well kept and very polite!

Above Balmoral rises the majestic mountain of Lochnagar, and amidst its foothills are a number of stone cairns, built on the instruction of Queen Victoria mainly to commemorate the marriages of her children.  The largest however was built in honour of her beloved Albert, after his death in 1861.  There are various walks to take in the cairns and the viewpoints each affords.  Visit www.walkhighlands.com for a detailed route plan.  The climb up Lochnagar is well worth it, especially on a clear day.  The route along the shores of Loch Muick (pronounced mick), is a joy.  Be careful if the cloud is low however as there are some steep and dangerous drops, so plan ahead please.

A quiet life

The Royal family have always enjoyed their time spent at Balmoral and seen it as a relaxing place, where they could move around freely and without scrutiny.  In Queen Victoria’s time, it’s said that staff and estate workers were instructed to ignore her if they saw her out walking or riding.  They were simply to pretend they hadn’t seen her at all!  Preference was given to estate tenants who agreed to make their front room (the best room in the house) over to the Queen should she be passing and have need of it.  Any members of the family in residence should retreat to the remainder of the house and lock the adjoining door.  One cottage had two front doors especially to allow access to Her Majesty, and she was known to call in for refreshments on a whim, which must have been rather alarming for the inhabitants as she wasn’t known for her tolerance or good humour. 

The Balmoral Estate is not huge by local standards, so often walks or rides would take the royal parties onto neighbouring properties.  One such route carried Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth onto the nearby Invercauld Estate where a hillside bothy took her fancy.  When her courtiers wrote to the estate owner telling him of her desire to visit regularly, the bothy was very discreetly made over, simply furnished, and supplied with a small stove and the facilities to make a hot drink.  

I recall the story of a local man who lived on the estate and who was a reserve firefighter.  One day having received a ‘shout,’ he headed at speed along the estate road to get to the fire station and out to the emergency.  Hurtling around a corner he almost collided head on with a Landrover driven by a lady in a floral headscarf, who glowered at him in annoyance.  He waved, drove on, and then realised who he’d nearly mown down!  The next day he wrote a letter of humble apology explaining his mission and his ‘need for speed’, only to receive a very gracious handwritten reply completely exonerating him of his misdemeanour, and which is no doubt a family heirloom by now!

Bridging the gap

Heading further west the road crosses the beautiful Invercauld Bridge.  Built in 1859 and paid for by Prince Albert, the Bridge of Dee, connected the military road network with the route north to Ruthven Barracks and Corgarff Castle.  All part of General Wade and Major Caulfeild’s plan to subdue the Highlanders by making travel around Scotland easier for government troops.  Many of these routes form the basis of our modern road network today. 

Of the thirteen bridges which span the Dee, five are suspension bridges.  The Crathie Bridge was built in 1834 to take carriages to and from Balmoral Castle.  When Queen Victoria purchased Balmoral in 1852 however, she felt a more substantial structure was required, and so Prince Albert commissioned the doyen of Victorian Engineering, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, to design The Balmoral Bridge.  This was completed in 1857, just two years before Brunel died.  That bridge is still very much in use today, and if you choose to visit Balmoral during your Ginspired Day Trip, you’ll walk right over it, just like Victoria!

Soldiers and squirrels

Continue towards Braemar where Braemar Castle is perfectly located on a bend of the road and the glen itself, affording views in all directions.  It was built in 1628 as a Hunting Lodge but used as a garrison for Hanoverian Soldiers after Culloden.  The Castle itself won’t reopen this season, but the grounds and squirrel hides are still available, so make it a stop on your trip this year, and part of your plan for next year.

If Stags could fly

Scottish wooden bar, with bar stools and Stags head, in Ginspired Scotland day trip to Royal Deeside.

Reaching Braemar itself there are a variety of independent businesses to explore, coffee shops and gift shops to enjoy, and now the splendidly refurbished Fife Arms Hotel.  Always a grand structure, it had rather passed its sell-by date, but has seen huge investment, great creative flair, and a real desire to bring global travellers to this part of the Highlands.  Well worth a visit.  Check out ‘The Flying Stag’ Bar.  I’ll not spoil the surprises here, but there’s a wide-ranging menu and live music on Friday evenings if you can stay around.  If your pockets are deep enough, an overnight stay here will match any well known, luxury establishment, but it does come at a price.  They excel on a huge whisky collection, and thankfully the list of Scottish Gin is catching up fast!

Where to eat, drink, shop and even stay a while….

Foos yer doos?

Royal Deeside sits in the north east of Scotland, partly within the Cairngorm National Park, and completely within the region of the Doric language.  Doric is thought to come from the Greek for local or rustic, and like most dialects, its origins go way back into the farming and fishing heritage of Scotland’s north east corner.  It’s still widely spoken, so a few words might be useful whilst you’re visiting!  Here’s some to play with:

The ‘F’ word

Far Where – as in where are you going
Fit       What – as in what are you going there for?
Fan When – as in when are you going
Foo    How – as in how are you getting there
Fa   Who – as in who are you going with
Fit wye  Why – as in why are you going there

And lesson twa’ (two)

Far ye gaan?Where are you going?
Fit’s at?   What’s that?
Fan ye aff?When are you going?
Foo mony?  How many?
Fa’s at?Who is that?
Fit wye nae?Why not?
Far div ye bide?Where do you stay?
Fit like?    How are you?
Fan div ye yoke?When do you start work?
Foo’s yer doos? (How are your doves/pigeons?)How are you?
Fit wye’s at noo?Why is that now?

And, saving the most important to the last:

Fa’s roond is it? Whose turn is it to buy the Scottish Gin?

If you’re enjoying learning the Doric, see if you can follow the words in this old old song ‘Willie MacKintosh’, sung in the dialect. The singer comes from Tarland, even though the Fiddichside and Auchindoun referred to, are both in Speyside which is slightly further north.

So that’s it.  You’re now ready and prepared for a fully Ginspired Day Trip to Royal Deeside!  Enjoy.

Or, The A-Z of D&G!

South Western Scotland is often overlooked by holiday makers seeking the splendours of the Highlands or the vibrancy of Glasgow & Edinburgh.  Yet those same holidaymakers who blithely cruise the M74, without ‘eyes left’, are missing out.  We believe Dumfries & Galloway has so much to offer it’s visitors, we’ve created this Ginspired Day Trip and confidently called it ‘The A-Z of D&G’, because there really is everything here, from A to Z.  Come with us as we Day Trip to Dumfries & Galloway:

Map of Dumfries & Galloway

Getting Here

Getting here is easy:  under 2 hours from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle or Preston by road, or 3 hours from Leeds and Bradford. With alternative routes across country if the journey is part of the fun.  From side to side, the whole region is just a 90 minute drive with detours to our suggested locations to the north and south of the main A75 route west to Stranraer.

So here goes:

A             Art Galleries aplenty, but probably the most significant is the Kirkcudbright Galleries site, which is currently hosting an exhibition of works by Ewan McClure (now until end October).  But whichever part of the Dumfries & Galloway region you find yourself in, there are galleries and art centres, more than a dozen in total.  Many are free to enter, some you must book in advance, all are worth a look.

B             Books – staying in the cultural vein, Wigtown is known as Scotland’s Book Town, with over 30 book-related businesses in the area.  The Book Festival has moved online this year (Sept 24th – Oct 4th) but a non-virtual visit to Wigtown still rewards visitors with its beautiful setting and historic architecture.

C             Castles, Coos, Crafts – Caerlaverock Castle unique triangular design is so impressive. It’s open all year round, but tickets must be booked in advance, online just now. Situated in Glencaple, it has a rich history, but it’s huge curtain wall was demolished in the 17th Century to prevent it ever being used again as a fortification.  Much older is Loch Doon Castle, near Dalmellington. It was built by Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland on an island in Loch Doon.  It’s free to visit and open all year, but was relocated, stone by stone, to its current location on the shores of the Loch in 1935, as a new hydro electric scheme meant the water levels would rise and cover it!  It’s ruin now, but still worth a look.

D             Dark Skies & Deer – The Dark Skies Observatory near Dalmellington re-opens on September 3rd for star gazers to enjoy.  Evening visits begin initially at 9pm, changing to 8pm later in the season. The region’s scarcity of artificial lights means that over 7000 stars and planets are visible with the naked eye, and by using the high-powered telescopes in the observatory, the whole sky comes alive.  Even if you don’t know Uranus from your elbow, this is still a memorable treat for the eyes.  The Galloway Forest is home to the full range of Scottish Wildlife, but is much less visited than many areas of the country.  It’s entirely possible to spot ospreys, otters, red squirrels, red deer, pine martens, and eagles across the region, especially if you know where to look!  A great place to start is the hide at the Red Deer Range, near Castle Douglas.  Use of the hide is free, but you stand a good chance of seeing some of the local 60 or so deer which live here.

E              Enchantment – JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, lived in Dumfries and took much of his inspiration for his most famous work from his home and garden at Moat Brae.  Now a visitor centre celebrating his life and work, Moat Brae reopens on September 3rd, for story telling tours and a brand-new exhibition. 

F              Fishing and Fish – If it’s coarse fishing you’re looking for, you’re spoiled for choice with rivers and lochs offering opportunities to fish a range of species.  For a unique pescatarian experience though, make a trip to The Logan Fish Pond, close to Port Logan on the west coast.  Open until the end of October, and with a family ticket costing just £10, the ‘pond’ has been used for over 200 years!  It was originally set up to take advantage of a natural cavity in the rock formation where the tide would refresh the seawater twice a day, but always leave a significant pool of water, enough to sustain large sea fish.  The laird of nearby Logan House would buy live fish from the locals and place them into the pond to live happily, until their turn came to feature on his menu.  These days it’s possible to walk down to the edge of the pond and see the fish (now free to live out their natural term) at close quarters.  It really is fascinating.  Don’t miss a trip to Port Logan itself while you’re there.  Lovely beach and so quiet.

G             Golf – With over 20 golf courses across the region, from challenging upland, parkland and links courses, you’ll find it easy to find one to suit your taste, ability and location. 

But ‘G’?  I mean really, it’s all about the GIN!

Click the links to learn more.

Now here are three wonderful reasons for you to visit Dumfries and Galloway.  They’re called Orogin, Solway Gin and Hills and Harbour Gin. If you do nothing else while you’re in the area make sure you sample at least one of these (and take several bottles home with you too!)

Orogin originates at The Dalton Distillery near Lockerbie. Although currently not running tours due to Covid, they do hope to re-open soon, so it’s worth checking online before your trip, or call them on 01387 840381. The Distillery Shop is open every day except Sunday, but the Oro Bar & Garden is open on Fridays and Saturdays only from 1pm – 11pm. Their website is www.orogin.co.uk

Solway Spirits in Annan is run by Andrew & Kate.  Although there’s no visitor centre at present, tours and tastings are possible for pre-arranged visits.  The best way is to call to arrange something according to your timetable, group size, date etc, and they’ll do their best to accommodate you.  It’s totally flexible, for up to 12 guests, and if you’re buying, they won’t even charge you for the tour!  Call them on 01461 758388 or email at info@solwayspirits.co.uk

Hills and Harbour Gin is made at the Crafty Distillery near to Newton Stewart. Tours of the distillery take place at 11.30am on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. There’s an overspill tour at 2pm if it’s especially busy.  Book in advance, by phone or online, and make sure you have a designated driver, as the tour includes three gorgeous ginny drinks too!  There is also a shop to explore with some other local food and drinks to enjoy.  For the real gin enthusiasts among you, call to arrange a ‘Gin Escape’.  This full day experience for up to four people (one bubble), includes joining the Crafty’s Gin Makers in foraging for ingredients (botanicals), lots of tasting, gin making techniques and so much more.  You’ll need your own transport just now, and if you bring a driver too, he/she would not count towards the four people limit.  The distillery is in a beautiful location, run by friendly and hugely knowledgeable people, with a real passion for what they do.  You won’t be disappointed.  Visit their website at https://craftydistillery.com/

H             Horse Riding.  When was the last time you cantered down a country lane or galloped off into the sunset?  Too long, time you did it again, and Dumfries and Galloway is a perfect location to revisit that feeling only a saddle can give to your bottom. Lochhill Equestrian Centre near Castle Douglas offers treks from one hour to a whole day to explore this part of Galloway.  With horses and ponies of all shapes and sizes, they can accommodate people of all shapes and sizes too, so the whole family can join in.  Alternatively, Lochhill also offers Carriage Rides through the historic town of Kirkcudbright, so if you fancy something a little more sedate, that could be for you.

I               Ice cream – oh yes!  What’s a day out without a melty 99 running down your chin or over your hand?  It’s what day trips were made for (well that and Scottish Gin of course!)  My personal favourite and a brand you’ll see everywhere is ‘Cream o’ Galloway’. Situated near Gatehouse of Fleet, this organic dairy farm produces excellent ice cream and also has a visitor centre, adventure playgrounds, e-karts, café etc etc.  It’s a full day out in itself, and of course there’s always lashings of ice cream to go around.  Don’t miss it!

J              Jewellery – in tune with the creative vibes in the air around here, Dumfries & Galloway have a world class collection of bespoke jewellery designers.  So, you have an heirloom in need of modernisation, a romantic proposal to engage with, or just want to spoil yourself or someone special, try Elizabeth Gault and Kathryn King in Kirkcudbright, or Alison MacLeod in Thornhill. True gems for you to discover.

Photo of Outside eating area
The Steam Packet Inn

K             Kennedy – well to be fair, Castle Kennedy near Stranraer.  I thought it deserved a space of its own as space is truly what it offers.  Over 70 acres of beautiful gardens to wander in, with something of interest no matter what time of year you visit.  Open Wednesday to Sunday until the end of October, and if you happen to be NHS staff, please show your pass for a discount.  Book ahead just now, and you’re assured of a wonderful visit. I really could continue with Kippford (picturesque seaside village with coastal walks, family and dog friendly pubs, and scenic views), Kircudbright (with its busy fishing harbour and its community of artists and craftspeople, it was first established in 1455).  And Kites.  See wild red kites being fed at Bellymack Hill Farm.  Lots of Ks!

L              Lochs – for fishing of course, but also to cycle round, swim in, sail on and simply look at and enjoy.  Loch Ken, with the Galloway Activity Centre on its eastern shore, Mossroddich Loch for coarse fishing, Loch Doon with its Castle, close to the Dark Skies Observatory, Clatteringshaws Loch with the Forest Visitor Centre nearby, Loch Ryan and it’s wonderful oysters.  I could go on, but make sure you enjoy at least one during your visit.

M            Mountain Biking – If there’s any region of Scotland with better provision for mountain bikers, I’m yet to find it.  There are over a dozen dedicated routes and courses, from Kirroughtrees to Drumlanrig.  Glentrool to the Mabie Forest.  Some are only for the very brave, but others would suit even the most lily livered among us.  There’s also bike hire (e-bikes too) widely available, so you don’t even need to bring your own wheels to enjoy them.

N             National Trust for Scotland – It’s been a tough year for the NTS, so if you’re able to visit one of their properties it would help preserve both that place, and many others across the country.  Threave Gardens near Castle Douglas are gorgeous, Broughton House and Garden in Kirkcudbright was home to E A Hornel, one of the ‘Glasgow Boys’, who as well as being an accomplished artist, also held one of the largest collections of Robert Burns works. 

O             Open Spaces – from the massive sands of Luce Bay, the views across to the Lake District, the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland from the Mull of Galloway, you’ll not be short of open spaces, open air and open skies around here.  And the best news of all, most places are now also ‘Open’ for business!  Covid means things are constantly changing though, so do check ahead, especially if you’re making a long journey.

P             Plants – Castle Kennedy Gardens, Threave Gardens, Glenwhan Gardens at Glenluce, Logan Botanic Gardens, and I could go on.  This area of Scotland tends to be milder than most so you might be surprised by what you find!

Q             Queues? No, none of them around here!  That’s the beauty of this area, it’s one of Scotland’s best kept secrets.

R             Rockcliffe is a lovely historic seaside village and also part of the NTS estate. The Raiders Road Forest Drive is a great way to get deep inside the Galloway Forest even if you’re not the mountain biking, horse riding, walking booted type.  It’s a car-friendly (forest roads but well maintained) route with various recommended stops (including loos) along the way and a realistic chance of spotting deer, squirrels, birds or prey, and even otters in some places.  Take a picnic or visit the Visitor Centre & café at Clatteringshaws Loch to complete the experience. 

S              Seaside – there’s lots of this!  To the east, this tidal estuary can be a wee bit muddy, but further west the sweeping sands give way to rocky coves.  There really is a beach for every day of the week!

T              and scones.  There’s something about baking and Scotland.  It’s hard to beat, and even the west country’s famed cream teas would struggle to beat the scones our Caledonian cooks can create.  Seek them out during your day trip.

U             Undiscovered Scotland is a phrase often used, but honestly this area does remain quiet and relatively undiscovered by many visitors to Scotland. 

V             Visitor Attractions from Castles, Museums and Art Galleries, to Mountain Biking, Horse Riding, Walking, Fishing & Golf.  Sailing, Kayaking, Bird Watching, Star Gazing, Shopping, Eating to oh yes – Drinking Great Scottish Gin!

W            Whisky – yes there’s some of this too.  Try the Annandale Distillery, or Bladnoch, near Newton Stewart.  Both make exceptional malt whisky.

X             Marks the Spot – The Treasure Hunt in Castle Douglas is a two mile walk which should take around 2 hours, during which there are clues to solve a mystery.  Fun for detectives of all ages.

Y              Yachting, well sailing to be precise, at the Galloway Sailing School on Loch Ken.  The centre also offers climbing, laser tag and a wealth of other activities.  Covid restrictions mean it’s changing all the time so contact them direct for an up to date description.  They have accommodation and a café too!

Z              Well ok, so I’ve failed at the last hurdle, but Z, really? There used to be a wildlife park (or Zoo) in the area, but it seems no longer.  But you have to admit that we came up with suggestions for the other 25, so not too shabby!

As you can see, Dumfries and Galloway is not short of things to do, see and experience, with three great gins to explore too.  So, plan your own Day Trip to Dumfriesshire, or stay without delay in Galloway!

Here are some more of our favourite spots to stay, eat, drink & buy the local gins. Click through the links & Enjoy!

Photo of Scottish Wildcat

Majestic eagles circling high

Claim their ownership of the sky

Antlered deer climb mountain crags

Or wallow deep in peaty hags

Grouse calls warble from the moor

While seals sing a Mermaids lure

The red squirrels gravity defy

And dolphins spark delighted cries

But from valley floor to mountain ridge

The one we speak of most – the MIDGE

Oh midge of Scotland why oh why

Do you feel the need to bleed us dry

To bite and annoy our tender skin

While we try to take the outdoors in

When tired and resting viewing views

You plague us getting up our trews

You find your route through the tiniest nooks

Despite sprays and creams from expert’s books

180 trillion beasts

Each expecting daily feasts

We’re well outnumbered fair and square

Enough to leave us in despair

From early dawn to sunsets spectacular

They challenge the language’s Scot’s vernacular

From down your top to up your trews

They come not able to refuse

Determined to leave their itchy traces

In all your personal private places

So Skin So Soft and Smidge are here

Anointed in a shiny smear

All exposed skin is treated so

In efforts to defeat the foe

But grown men with hairy beards and stuff

Still weakly shout ‘enough’s enough!’

As on mild days when breezes lack

Comes the midgies scream ‘attack, attack’

And every pimple, every cell

Is subject to their prickly hell

Our sprays and creams to no avail yeah

But it could be worse, we could live in Australia

28000 different biting flies

So be grateful we’ve just wee midges guys.

So officially the current most hated noun in the Oxford English is Algorithm.  Unsurprising given its recent form, it’s also difficult to spell, and even to say if you happen to be nibbling on a biscuit at the time. Ironically, one of the other most hated words is ‘blog’, but we’ll skip gaily over that one.

Why you must never trust algorithms for the best advise.

As UK governments have just twigged, using data from the past to direct computer-cold decisions which shape the future, has its flaws.  And yet, algorithms DO have a place in society:  insurance companies use them to understand high and low crime areas based on the history of claims, and health boards can identify patients most likely to miss appointments, and send them timely reminders, which is good.

When planning a holiday, or even a day trip or snatched weekend of bliss however, steer well clear of the algorithm I implore you. How many times have I heard ‘It can’t be that far, it’s only half an inch on the map.’ Or, ‘Oh the North Coast 500, well 500 miles takes about 8 hours, so we’ll easily do that in a weekend’. No! No! No! This is Scotland.  It existed way before computers were even an electronic twinkle in an ambitious scientists’ eye.  Scotland does not compute!

Too many visitors to our glorious country miss much of its charm by being whisked around the tick-list of locations and attractions.  They (briefly) see crowds, coaches, & traffic jams.  They pay too much and often receive much less than they deserve.  It’s easy to repeat safe formulas, but it doesn’t make for the best holidays.

Instead, find websites based in Scotland, written by people in Scotland, with real on the ground knowledge.  Speak to friends, get personal recommendations, and if you’re making your own bookings, speak to the people at the hotels, b&bs, inns etc to ask questions and check they meet your needs.  We would highly recommend www.ginspiredscotland.com where every business has been recommended as stockists or supporters of Scottish Gin.  Surely that’s the type of place you want to connect with? #ginspired!

Where algorithms fail is that they are dry and clinical, without nuance or judgement.  They digest only the data they have been fed.  Far too often travel data is fed into computers by people who tragically have never set foot in Scotland, or certainly not off her well beaten tracks. As a consequence the guidance spewed forth is just as incomplete.  Don’t trust the 3*, 4* or 5* choices.  There will always be grading systems in tourism, but the criteria to achieve the higher ratings concentrate on lifts, porters, and in room services, rather than the important things like, do the staff genuinely seem pleased to see you?  Not to mention the possibilities of local wildlife encounters, or the fabulous sunsets or potential views of the Northern Lights that are possible at every level of tourist board rating. 

Not too long ago I stayed at a traditional hotel on the West Coast, 3* at best with great heritage, but showing its age slightly.  Indeed, draughty windows, small showers and poor water pressure might have led to a miserable night. However, just after a lovely dinner, a great rumble set up. Suddenly, right outside the window next to me, a group of ten or so red deer cantered out of the forest and down to the back of the hotel to eat the vegetable scraps the chef always kept back for them. As the dusk drew in, several of us with drams in hand, some still eating the remains of a delicious dessert, spent a delightful few minutes observing these beautiful creatures enjoying their supper. Clearly a nightly occurence, and yet there was no mention of it on the website, no photos even, it was just something that happened naturally.  If a seven star rating were available, I would happily have given it to that hotel that night.

Red Deer Stag
Red Deer Stag

By comparison, the very best hotels combine excellence in provision with a relaxed unstuffy service.  Everyone should be made to feel welcome, whether they are a Prince, a billionaire, or a regular Joe who’s saved hard for a one-off treat.  The very best value, in my opinion, is in having everything you need available to you (need, not possibly, maybe, one day might want), alongside that welcome.

In a previous life I hosted a group of top US media, making in some cases one of many trips to Scotland as guests of big corporations.  The route I designed combined 5* luxury and Michelin Stars with small inns and one-off experiences.  On the final evening we sat around a camp fire on a beach on the southern end of Skye, drinking Talisker single malt and enjoying the sunset. As we reflected on highlights, I asked was it the spa treatments or the golf tuition?  Was it the helicopter trip?  Perhaps the dinner at that great restaurant with the award-winning chef who came to greet us?  No? No. It was unexpectedly spotting dolphins from the RIB, climbing up an old lighthouse tower, eating those prawns the fishermen gave us for our camp fire, and late-night thumb wrestling with the locals in the pub, while listening to a couple of guys playing guitar. 

Would you get that with an algorithm? 

Computer says ‘no’.

Have a Dandy Day out in ‘Fundee’!

With oodles of culture and a long-standing history of creativity and design, there’s so much to explore in and around Dundee, not to mention several great local gins. Oh jings, crivvens, help me boab!

Dundee Day Trip Map

Getting Here

Is easy! Less than 90 minutes from Aberdeen to the north, Edinburgh to the south and Glasgow to the south west. It’s a straightforward journey by road, rail or bus, right into the city centre.

Know before you go –

Spreading the enjoyment of marmalade around the world from 1797, Janet Keiller’s invention is still available today and has inspired several of the local gins, especially those from the Dundee Gin Company. Maybe a toast to her? While Verdant Gin is based in the Verdant Works, a refurbished Jute Mill, which formed a vital part of Dundee’s industrial heritage up until the 1970s when jute production was moved to India.

Verdant Works

At Discovery Point you’ll find RRS Discovery, the legendary Royal Research Ship from which Sir Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton discovered the South Polar Plateau between 1901 and 1904. Despite Scott’s determination, he was to be beaten to the Pole by Amundsen in 1912, and tragically perished during the return to his ship. Seeing the story laid out in full, and hearing the inspiring tales of these men’s bravery, is not to be missed and will transfix young and old alike.  Captain Scott left a son Peter, who would go on to found the World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF, and Slimbridge Wildfowl Centre in Gloucestershire.

Home to publisher DC Thomson since 1886 and well known for the creation of Oor Wullie, The Broons, The Beano and The Dandy, Dundee’s publishing legacy is worth celebrating.  Work up a Desperate Dan sized thirst with a walk around the city centre to spot statues, murals and drawings of these well-loved characters. You’ll be amazed how many you recognise, but I’m yet to find a restaurant offering an authentic Cow Pie! Also follow the Street Art Trail, designed to bring colour and interest to blank doors around the city, and creates welcome vibrancy and brightness.

Dundee, with just half the population of Edinburgh and a quarter of Glasgow, has nevertheless become a centre of computer gaming.  Competing on the global stage alongside San Francisco, Tokyo and Montreal, Scotland’s fourth city claimed its place with the emergence of Lemmings, and Grand Theft Auto in the 1990s. The Game Design Degree offered by the city’s Abertay University is rated as the best in Europe, and attracts designers from around the world.

V&A Dundee, © V&A Dundee FB
The V&A

What to do –

Scotland’s creativity and design is showcased within the V&A museum, a place of inspiration, discovery and learning. It has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors since it opened its doors in 2018. Occupying a compelling spot on the quayside, the museum structure itself is jaw dropping, resembling a huge ship on the verge of sailing.  The only V&A Museum outside of the London original, Dundee was chosen as the city worthy of recognition for its design and creative heritage. The Museum reopens on August 27th 2020 with a new exhibition of Mary Quant, the fashion designer who captured the zeitgeist of a whole generation.

Dundee has lots of green spaces to enjoy, including Camperdown Country Park, Dundee Botanic Garden, and Slessor Park in the heart of the city centre. A walk up The Law rewards you with spectacular views over the city and far away. So now you’re thirsty, here are the perfect local gins to help you out:-

The great local gins –

Verdant Dry Gin combines juniper and bright citrus with a global blend of botanicals, reflecting Dundee’s jute and marine connections. This produces a delicious award winning gin which can be enjoyed on its own, with tonic, or in cocktails.

The Dundee Gin Co offers gins with a strong Dundonian link throughout their range, including Dundee Cake Gin Liqueur, Marmalade Gin Liqueur and their Classic Dry Gin. See Ginspired Scotland’s light hearted interview with MD Lewis Murphy here.

Crag & Tail small batch Scottish gin combines twelve botanical elements including citrus, elderflower and watermelon to provide a balanced, clean and refreshing citrus taste, with a hint of spice. The name comes from the exposed vertical rocky faces with a sweeping slope behind them left behind by ancient glaciers.

Tayport Distillery’s Wild Rose Gin is bright and fresh with citrus notes and a floral finish.  Just 10 minutes out of the city centre, Tayport offers new tours and visitor experiences including their Distillers Kitchen events. Participants leave with a 20cl bottle of their own personal gin, designed and created by themselves! Around 2 hours long, and £50 per person, these are mainly run at weekends.

Eating & drinking –

Enjoy the local gins and the finest foods at a host of bars and eateries across Dundee. Our favourites include Gallery 48, which offers tapas, Spanish wines and gin, with ground-breaking exhibitions by local and international artists. The Bruach Bar in nearby Broughty Ferry has an all day menu with something for everyone, and an interesting cocktail list worth exploring! Duke’s Corner is where to head for cocktails, local gins, craft beers and good food. It has a cool late- night vibe but a friendly welcoming reputation too.

Where to stay –

For Scottish Gins enjoyed in relaxed surroundings, visit Taypark House and its Gin Bar Lounge and Gin & Fizz Garden (hopefully re-opening soon).  The elegant Malmaison Hotel is stylishly convenient to both the V&A and Discovery point. Invercarse Hotel with its terrace, great reputation for friendly staff and good food, matched by its views over the city, is a good choice for somewhere to stay.  There’s also an abundance of quality chain hotels many of which also stock the local gins. In our experience, many of the hotels offer great value in comparison to Edinburgh & Glasgow.  See for yourself and let us know if you agree!

Local produce –

Dundee and surrounds is also home to a growing number of independent specialist food and drink retailers.  If you like to shop local, and limit the food miles in your larder, visit The Butcher, The Baker. Here ‘passion’ is key (have your cold shower ready!) Fraser’s Fruit & Veg has a range of local fresh produce plus ready meals, soups and deli foods, all beautifully presented. Just out of town is Grewar’s Farm Shop too, where ‘local’ and ‘quality’ are the watchwords.

So, whether it’s one day, or just day one of many, Dundee will give you lots of choice for stylish viewing, historical learning, energetic exploring, or Ginspired creating! Plus great food to get your Gnashers into. So don’t delay your visit to Dundee, ‘The Cool City with the Warm Heart’.

Rate yourself with the following quiz:-

Image of Highland Cow with a wonky horn
  1.  An ‘Arbikie’ is the traditional dwelling place of the wild Scottish Haggis.  Usually well concealed on a north facing mountainside, and always constructed after several months of negligible rainfall. It’s carefully positioned to allow the rear of the haggis to protrude slightly, clearly indicating that the beast is at home, while protecting the bill from the prevailing weather.

TRUE/FALSE

  • ‘Drookit’ as in ‘Drookit Piper Gin’ (Pixel Spirits, Ballachulish) is an old Scots word for tuneful or melodic.  As regular visitors to Scotland will know, even players new to the bagpipes are easily able to produce soothing melodies which will draw listeners in from near and far.  Drookit pipers are always happy souls, with a cheerful demeanour and a smile for everyone.

TRUE/FALSE

  • Lochaber, is the cry given (like ‘fore’ in golf) when a chaber (sometimes spelled caber), is tossed with insufficient effort to turn 180 degrees.  Pronounced ‘Low Caber’, it warns bystanders to stand clear before they are driven down like human pegs into the soft peaty soil of the Highlands by the errant and dangerous pole.

TRUE/FALSE

  • Whitetail Gin is named after the largest of Mull’s native squirrels.  Not thought to be completely albino, many display a striking white tail especially when winter temperatures drop below freezing for several days at once.  Scientists are working to disprove the theory that the tails are simply frost covered, and as they are enjoying the fine local gin so much, this research may take some years to complete.

TRUE/FALSE

Answers (ideally upside down)

One point for each correct answer:-

1.A         FALSE

Arbikie is the gorgeous gin carefully distilled by Kirstie Black at Arbikie Highland Estate in Angus using local botanicals to echo the coast and lands of its region.

If you thought it was a Haggis Hoose you’re a numpty fair and square.  Sorry, none intended.

2. A        FALSE

Drookit is an alternative term for ‘half-drownded’, or ‘very wet indeed’ if you went to posh school.  Everyone knows that Pipers sometimes have to stand out in all weathers, so occasionally becoming drookit is all part of the job.  That’s not to say it makes them happy smiley people though.  In fact, I’d be tempted to avoid a drookit piper until he’s dried out a bit, except for the Gin that is.  Drookit Piper Gin is great when it’s pouring! (See what I did there?)

3.A         FALSE

Lochaber is in fact a region of Scotland.  You may not have studied the maps recently, but you can’t have avoided the Proclaimers ‘Lochaber no more’ even if you missed Allan Ramsey’s 1724 version?  When a caber is incorrectly tossed there are usually several utterances forthcoming from the tosser, but none of them are repeatable here.  It is worth giving them a wide berth though, if only to avoid the horrid knifey things they wear on their boots for grippage.

Lochaber Gin is a fine spirit contained in a bottle displaying the Lady in the Hills.  Get your own when you come to Lochaber!

4.A         FALSE

Whitetail Gin is produced on the sub-tropical island of Mull.  Honestly, there are palm trees in abundance, and enough gorgeous sandy beaches to make the Caribbean jealous.  And it’s much easier to get to.  Calmac throw in a lovely cruise from Oban, or from Fishnish if you prefer place names that make you giggle.

So, as the weather would suggest, there’s little chance of seeing a frosty tailed squirrel on Mull, and instead the skilled makers of Whitetail chose the local Sea Eagles as their inspiration.  So, don’t search the trees, but turn your eyes to the skies in case one of these ‘flying barn doors’ comes your way.

SCORING

                Zero out of Four:             

Console yourself that we are here to help you and that you have found us. Now back to your room.

One out of Four:

Every journey starts with a single step.  Well, leap into your Louboutins lovely because you’ve got a long road ahead of you.  Still, they say that happiness is not the destination, it’s the journey, and yours will take you to some amazing Scottish Gins.  And never forget, you’re not stupid, you’re special.

Two out of Four:

You’re a trier and everyone loves those, but you have WORK TO DO. Spend much more time exploring Scotland and its amazing gin at every possible opportunity.  We prescribe at least six visits to Scotland per year until you show signs of improvement and to cure your desperate knowledge gaps.  If you can’t physically get here, do it through A I.  ie Pretend you’re clever whilst drinking Scottish Gin.

Three out of Four:

You are the Scottish Gin equivalent of an A Grade Student.  Well done!  However, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it, so maintain those knowledge levels by regular trips to explore Scottish Gin and imbibe data (in liquid form if necessary).  Use your expertise to encourage others to join you.  You will be rewarded.  You are Ginspired.

Four out of Four:

Ginspired Ginius at work! What you don’t know would fit in a Copa Glass with plenty of room for ice and several garnishes.  You are Ginvincible!

It is now your destiny to spread your knowledge and passion for Scottish Gin throughout the gin drinking world.  Share your expertise and a little of your gin with your friends and family and they’ll be intoxicated by your sparkling brilliance. 

Congratulations. 

You and I can now be friends.

From the Pictish words for stones, or stepping stones, Pitlochry is one of Scotland’s most enchanting places to visit.

With clear sparkling air, beautiful scenery, rich clan history, fine food and drink, and plenty of space for everyone, Pitlochry is known as a holiday destination, but boasts plenty to see and do throughout the year.

That’s why we picked Pitlochry for our new Ginspired Day Trip!  So, step we gaily along to the heart of Scotland and ‘Pick Pitlochry’.

Map of Pitlochry region for Ginspired Day Trip

Getting here is easy.  Connected by the A9 trunk road, rail (Perth – Inverness line) and routes to both east and west, Pitlochry really is located in the heart of the country. Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow are all less than 2 hours away, so it’s a perfect place to pick for your Ginspired Daytrip!

Situated as it is, Pitlochry blends charming shops and cafes, with open countryside for highland and lowland walking, lochs, rivers and fabulous viewpoints.  A Castle or two, some fascinating tales from history, and a range of activities from relaxing retail therapy to adrenalin-stimulating bungee jumps!

The centre of town offers coffee shops, gift shops and many independent retailers. Robertson’s of Pitlochry sells a selection of Scotch Whisky and an especially wide range of fine Scottish Gins.  Macnaughton’s ladies and gentlemen’s outfitters dates back to 1835 and is one of Scotland’s oldest retailers. The Melt Gallery stocks a tempting collection of largely silver jewellery, made to contemporary designs, as well as art work and a variety of gorgeous ‘objets’. There’s also ‘Heather Gems’ where jewellery is crafted from the stems of the moorland heathers creating unique patterns and designs encapsulated in resin.

photo of bicycle in drinks shop

The town is also host to one of the oldest legal whisky sites in Scotland, Blair Athol Distillery, which is still in operation today offering distillery tours and tasting sessions. It’s just re-opened for visitors, so that’s great timing!

More recently, the area has also inspired a number of gin producers, who have taken the local pure waters and plentiful botanic offerings to create a varied range of Scottish gins.

GIN !!!

Badvo Gin, founded by Helen Stewart in 2018, is foraged, distilled, bottled and labelled entirely on the family farm just outside Pitlochry, using Scottish juniper as a key ingredient.  There’s no visitor centre just yet, but the gin is available to buy at Robertson’s of Pitlochry and also at Drinkmonger.


GIN !!!

The Gael gin, distilled in nearby Dunkeld, was born from a love of music and gin, and heavily inspired by Dougie MacLean’s Scottish fiddle tune, ‘The Gael’. Malted barley and Scottish heather are combined to create a smooth gin with a citrus/heather aroma followed by a subtle juniper/slightly spicy flavour and a warm finish. Again, no visitor centre (yet!), but you’ll be able to get your hands on some of this tuneful liquid at Robertson’s and at Drinkmonger too.

A little way out of town, via the charming A924 road through pretty Kirkmichael, you’ll join the A93.  This is the old Military Road from Blairgowrie in the south, over the heights of Glenshee, into Royal Deeside. It’s known as the Snow Road, as it’ll take you from the soft-fruit growing farmland of the Carse of Gowrie, up into the ski zone of Glenshee.  In fact there’s a chair lift right by the roadside to take you even higher if you wish!

GIN !!!

At the foot of Glenshee , you’ll find the charming Persie Gin Distillery, which is open to the public from Saturday to Thursday. Discover these Scottish gins, distilled from pure water from the local hills, using carefully chosen local botanicals: sharp citrus for
the fruity gin; fresh herbs for the savoury gin; and almonds and vanilla pods for the sweet gin. Visitors can book a 30-minute liquid tour of the distillery, and enjoy a gin flight and gin based cocktail afterwards. Make sure you have a designated driver for this one, or take the gin back to base instead.

Image of Loch Faskally from above

Back to Pitlochry itself with Loch Faskally & Faskally Woods. The woods offer a beautiful space to wander, whatever the season, and are also home to the Enchanted Forest, a spectacular pioneering sound and light show held in October. The next one is scheduled for 2021.  Loch Faskally has a selection of walks alongside or close to the shore, and at the end of the loch is a small café with boat and fishing gear hire.  It’s walkable from Pitlochry town.  Don’t forget to bring something for the ducks (not bread though, porridge oats perhaps?)


The gentle circular walk around Pitlochry and across the flowing River Tummel will lead you to the Salmon Ladder and Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre, where you can watch salmon ‘climb’ the ladder over the dam and head upstream to spawn from April through to October.


The fast paced River Tummel also offers adrenalin seekers the opportunity to enjoy white water rafting, while the bravest visitors can experience a free fall bungee jump towards the river from a bridge platform 40 metres overhead at the Highland Fling Bungee Jump in
nearby Killiecrankie.


There’s lots to explore just a short distance from Pitlochry too. The Queen’s View, less than 20 minutes’ drive away, is a stunning viewpoint overlooking Loch Tummel and the Tay Forest Park. Said to be named after Queen Victoria, following her visit to the area in 1866, some say that it was in fact named after Queen Isabella of Scotland, wife of King Robert the Bruce, over 500 years beforehand. The nearby Visitor Centre offers a café and information about the area, which has many woodland walk trails to enjoy. (check opening times as they are currently affected by Covid.)


Head north to beautiful Blair Castle & Gardens. On offer are castle tours, an impressive walled garden, sculpture trail, ruined kirk and red deer park, whilst also being home to abundant wildlife including red squirrels, peacocks and grazing Highland Cattle. There’s a pleasant café within the Castle too.  The Blair Horse Trials are usually held here in summer, which showcase the lovely Castle backdrop and parklands.

The nearby House of Bruar stocks an impressive collection of traditional Scottish Tweed and cashmere, as well as a stunning selection of locally sourced Scottish food and drink, with a wide range of Scottish gins including their own brand House of Bruar Sloe Gin, and Raspberry liqueur. 


Irresistableiciousness

Heading south from Pitlochry will take you to the Highland Chocolatier, where award-winning artisan chocolatier Iain Burnett creates an internationally renowned range of fresh cream truffles and spiced pralines, including the multiple awarded Velvet Truffle. Enjoy a Tasting Masterclass, a sensory experience not to be missed! Take away a Chocolate Pairing box, which offers expertly paired gourmet chocolates with an exclusive range of Scottish malt whiskies, as well as gins, champagnes and teas.  When something tastes this good the calories are incidental!


Mind your ‘Rs’
Just across the road, the River Tay tumbles across rocky rapids beside the Inn on the Tay.  If you like the idea of being in a washing machine on a spin cycle, book up for a ride down the rapids in a rib (roll your ‘r’s like a Highlander when you say this – it sounds much better!).  Alternatively, take an outside table at the Inn and order a Scottish gin to enjoy while you watch the eejits on the boats!

So, do ‘Pick Pitlochry’ when planning a day trip.  There really is something for everyone here, and much of it’s available year round.  The whole range of accommodation from five star luxury spa hotels to simple B&Bs so every body and every budget is sorted.  And of course, whilst in town, make sure to enjoy the local gins!

More Ideas

Here are a few more ideas for things to see and do, places to stay, eat and drink. Just click through the links on each one to learn more.

Do let us know what you enjoyed the most, what you’d recommend to others, and if you have some secret discoveries to share with us. 

Have a great #ginspireddaytrip!

AvieMORE for LESS

The Cairngorm National Park takes a leading role in many wildlife and adventure stories.  It’s no co-incidence that Chris Packham and co are regularly spotted filming Springwatch and its seasonal counterparts here, as it boasts the full set of Scotland’s wildlife heroes, and a spectacular backdrop for every vibrant scene.

 For all the richness of the habitat and the wealth of different things to see and do, a trip to these wild lands does not have to cost a fortune.  This is Ginspired Scotland’s guide to AvieMORE, for LESS!

Getting Here

Map of Aviemore within Scotland
Easy to find – the heart of the Highlands

Aviemore is accessible by car (A9), coach and rail. The legendary Caledonian Sleeper train stops here too. The nearest airport is Inverness, just over 30 minutes to the north. Hiring bikes (or ebikes) is a great way to get around for the energetic.

So come on, join us as we take our #GinspiredDayTrip around Aviemore.

Just a few miles up the ‘ski road’ is the stunning Loch Morlich.  Fed by snow melt from high up on the sub-arctic tundra of the Cairngorm Plateau, the water here never feels anything less than baltic, but the local ducks will welcome you warmly, especially if you’ve brought some peas, sweetcorn, or porridge oats (never bread), to reward their attentions.  A small parking fee will allow you to spend a while here, paddling (for the brave), picnicking, watching the sailing boats and enjoying the views of the mountains behind.

Duncan’s Gin is produced nearby, and would complement Loch Morlich very well.  Serve it chilled, just like your toes, and enjoy.

Nearby Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre is a must during your day out.  Here you can refresh yourselves with coffee and cakes, and find local meat and game produced on the estate, plus some notable Scottish Gins, including most of the local ones.  If budgets and time allow, book for clay pigeon shooting, quad bike safaris and a whole range of outdoor adventures for those with money to spend.  If not, a map of the estate and it’s many trails and paths is a great investment. 

Loch an Eilein with mist
Loch an Eilein = Loch with an island

One of our favourites is the lovely path around Loch an Eilein.  It’s £4.50 to park a car, but that does give access to toilets and a small visitor centre telling more about the local area.  The walk encircles the loch which is home to a small medieval castle on a rocky island.  Strolling through ancient pine forests, this walk is as good in winter as in summer.  Red squirrels are evident, if you don’t see them in person, you’ll see the pine cones they’ve stripped littering the forest floor.  Look out too for wood ant nests, which form huge piles of pine needles among the heather and other woodland shrubs.  Interesting mosses, ferns and pine bark textures in among towering trees, some several hundred years old.  It’s both atmospheric and somehow inspiring. 

Photo of pine forest

Maybe ‘forest bathing’ will begin to take on in Scotland?  This would be an ideal spot to start! 

If you’ve built up an appetite, try The Winking Owl on Aviemore’s main street.  Plenty of free parking and a varied menu to suit all tastes and budgets.  Plus a great selection of the local gins, and beer from Cairngorm Brewery, their sister business.

Mountain biking is very much in vogue around here.  Not surprising as the trails are endless if you wish, shorter if required, and every possible level of talent and fitness can be accommodated. Hire a bike locally if you can’t bring your own.   Wear a helmet though – those ancient pine trees can be hard!   At the end of your cycle, why not refresh your senses with Cairngorm Gin?  It’s produced within the National Park and one of it’s key botanicals is pine needles!  It’s delicious and available online as well as from the Rothiemurchus Shop at Inverdruie.

A little further toward the ski slopes is Glenmore, where you can park and take the wide path up towards the Ryvoan Pass and the beautiful Lochan Uaine, or the Green Loch.  It is said the colour comes from the fairies laundering their clothes here, and who knows, it may be true.  It’s far enough to know you’ve stretched your legs, but not so far as to put your kids off hillwalking, so enjoy the scenery, the feeling that you are properly ‘in the hills’, and once your walk is over, restore yourself with a Kinrara Gin.  Their shop is not far away on the outskirts of Aviemore.

Heading south the Inshriach Forest is home to the fascinating Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail, which follows a short stroll alongside the River Feshie.  It’s a low level walk for all abilities, with the added interest of the works of art to enjoy.  As you’re in the Inshriach Forest, try Inshriach Gin as your tipple of choice after this one!  It’s made just up the road and available online and in the Rothiemurchus Shop at Inverdruie too.

The Highland Wildlife Park isn’t free to visit, those polar bears are hungry and expensive to keep, but on a ‘pounds per hour’ rating, we think it does rather well.  There aren’t too many places where polar bears, amur tigers, wildcats and snow leopards can be seen, as well as a host of other wonderful animals, many of whom live, or once lived within the National Park.  We highly recommend it, but it’s not possible to take your dog, even if you’re planning on leaving Fido in the car, it’s a no.  Byron’s Gin is produced close by, and you can pick up your bottle at The Snug in Aviemore, where you can usually get a small nip to sample too! If you’re heading the other way, High5 in Kingussie also stocks Byron’s.

Just a little further south, bordering the RSPB reserve of the Insh Marshes is Ruthven Barracks.  High on a hump above the floodplain, this fortified spot has been a Castle from medieval times as home to the Comyn and Gordon families. Rebuilt as a barracks by King George II in 1719,  as a defence against the Jacobites after the 1715 uprising, it’s free to visit, and full of atmosphere.  Daffy’s Gin is made in Strathmashie, just west of here, and would make a perfect gin and tonic to round off your day.

Ruthven Barracks

One of the area’s biggest bargains is the Highland Folk Museum at nearby Kingussie.  Free admission and free carparking give access to a fabulous array of historical exhibits, showing how life was in days gone by.  If history’s not your thing, it was also used as a location in the Outlander series, so channel your inner Jamie or Claire, and enjoy some time here.  There’s plenty of shelter too if the weather’s not on your side, so dinnae fash yersel.

Highland Folk Museum

Here are a few other ideas in and around Aviemore. Follow the links for more information about each one.

Cairngorm Reindeer Centre get to know these charming creatures close up.
Strathspey Steam Railway re-opening soon for journeys back in time.
Speyside Centre for great shopping, eats and garden goodies.
Ropes Course at Rothiemurchus
Treezone Rothiemurchus Aerial adventure for the brave!

So, we hope we’ve ginspired you to spend a day or two in Aviemore for less.  Even on a wee budget there’s loads to see and do, and some wonderful local gins to explore.

Recommended places to stay, eat and drink. Just follow the links to learn more:

Do let us know what you enjoyed the most, what you’d recommend to others, and if you have some secret discoveries to share with us. 

Have a great #ginspireddaytrip!

Edinburgh Gin Head Distiller, David Wilkinson

Founded in 2010, Edinburgh Gin has created an innovative family of award winning Gins. Based in Edinburgh, a city with a prestigious history of producing, importing and exporting gin, one that dates back to the first gin ‘craze’ of the 1700s.

Edinburgh Gin is produced at their West End, and Leith Distilleries, where ‘a gin for every occasion’ is distilled by custom-made copper stills Flora and Caledonia.

The 5 star distillery tours offers the opportunity to get a behind the scenes experience to how the gin is made and learn about the history behind the brand.

What’s your favourite comment from someone tasting your gin for the first time?

Something along the lines of “best gin ever” is always great. But more specifically I like it when people find the gin original and say something like “I’ve never tasted a gin quite like this before”

What are you most passionate about professionally?

Quality and originality. Trying to make the best possible gin but with innovative ideas to make it unique.

      What’s the worst advice you’ve been given?

Go to Law School.

      If you had a robot to do one part of the gin process, which part would it be?

Either cleaning out the stills or doing the paperwork.

    What makes you smile most days?

Seeing the first drops of gin run off the still.

    What does success mean for you?

Being able to reflect on my work and honestly say I did the best job I possibly could. Winning awards is fantastic, but if you’re genuinely happy with the work you’ve done they shouldn’t define you.

    Who would you swap lives with for a day?

Really no idea on this one!

    What subject was your favourite at school?

Maths.

What’s your favourite botanical?

So many contenders here! I would say Tasmanian mountain pepper is the most interesting botanical I’ve worked with, it has such a unique flavour and aroma profile.

     How long can you go without checking your phone?

Usually about 15 minutes. So sometimes I turn it off and leave it in my bag so I can have a few hours away.

   Who’s your drinks industry hero?

There are many people in the industry I respect but I don’t really do ‘heroes’.

    What can you not live without?

Exercise, something that has really hit home during the isolation.

    What would you like to do but are too scared?

First thing that popped into my head was bungee jumping!

   What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

People tend to avoid complimenting me. I’m already full of myself as it is!

   If you had limitless funds, where would you holiday?

I’m not sure because I get the most satisfaction from holidaying on a budget. I love the simple things. My favourite city is Budapest so I’d probably go there but try all the most expensive Hungarian wines.

With a range of liqueurs, as well as the core range comprising of the Classic Edinburgh Gin, Cannonball Navy Strength Gin and the east coast inspired Seaside Gin, make sure you have a look on the Gincyclopedia for details on how to buy.

You can also see what else there is to do in Edinburgh whilst you are there by visiting our unique Gincyclopedia. We have everything you need to plan the most amazing Ginspired trip around Scotland.

Keep in touch with Ginspired Scotland! Please do sign up to receive our eNewsletter with all the latest Ginspired Scotland news, directly into your email ginbox.

Distiller, Scott Gowans

Ginspired Scotland is delighted to talk gin with distiller, Scott Gowans from Darnley’s Gin.

Steeped in Scottish history, Darnley’s Gin was borne from inspiration dating back centuries ago. Lord Darnley first met his wife to be, Mary Queen of Scots in 1565. Darnley’s Gin was created at Wemyss Castle, Fife on the east coast of Scotland. The elderflower growing wild around the castle inspired their first gin recipe.

The derelict farm cottage next to their whisky distillery in the village of Kingsbarns is where, following a transformation into Darnley’s Distillery & Gin School, Darnley’s Gin is produced.

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