Claire and I established Dunnet Bay Distillery, producers of Rock Rose gin, in 2014, along with our wee one-eyed dog George. Opening our own Rock Rose gin distillery had been tempting us for a while (having enjoyed brewing and distilling when I was at university), but we needed to save to pay for it. It’s not cheap building a distillery, but we found the perfect location and finally managed to fund the build.
We built the distillery in our home village of Dunnet, in the Far North of Scotland, and decided to make it a full-time venture. From the very beginning, the product attracted attention. In the few years we’ve been producing, our gin has won numerous awards, including a Great Taste 3 star and the best gin at the Grocer Drinks Awards.
To create Rock Rose Scottish gin, we use 18 botanicals, 5 of which are grown locally and sourced from the forest and cliffs nearby. The name itself comes from one of the local botanicals known as rose root, which grows in the cracks on the cliff faces. In addition, we use Rowan berries, water mint, sea buckthorn and hawthorn berries from the local area to create a unique gin offering. The gin itself is packaged in a beautiful stone bottle and each bottle is hand-waxed and numbered. Since the start of our business, our sales have grown exponentially, and limited editions sell out quickly.
In a nutshell, we believe we have created a beautiful gin in a beautiful bottle. Finding the perfect recipe for our Scotland gin took us through 80 different experimental recipes with a range of 55 different botanicals. These included exotic ingredients from across the globe, and local ingredients from our doorstep, as well as the purest Highland water. We wanted to create spirits that reflect the Caithness way of life, to give a true taste of our beautiful and rugged coastline.
The final recipe gives us a gin with a lovely earthy, rose base. This is the building block allowing us to layer the incredible flavours of Verbena and Blaeberries with the softer citrus notes from the Seabuckthorn. Our vapour infusion process creates a very smooth gin, with delicate flavours contributing to a complex flavour profile.
To complement our standard Rock Rose gin we also have seasonal limited editions, which have proved very popular. The new Autumn Edition for 2017 is a warm gin bursting with light spice. Our Winter Edition incorporates spruce tips, bringing delightfully earthy and slightly citrusy notes to the serve.
Our Spring Edition really captures a spring day in Caithness with its gorse flowers and dandelion creating a cool, fresh taste. Finally, the Summer Edition is a citrus style gin, which uses no citrus in its creation. If you are lucky enough to get hold of the seasonal editions you can have a gin for every season to stand beside the award winning regular Rock Rose Scottish gin.
Rock Rose gin is produced in our home village of Dunnet, Caithness. We are the most northerly distillery on the British mainland and located on the iconic driving route, the North Coast 500. John O’Groats, famous for being the end of the road for the ‘End to Enders’ from Land’s End is only 11 miles away along the coast. Despite being the most northerly point in Britain we are still very accessible should you be passing our way. The distillery is located next to the idyllic Dunnet Bay beach and Dunnet forest, which provides a stunning backdrop for creating our gin.
We distil the spirits in our traditional copper pot still, fondly named ‘Elizabeth’. We hand-fill and wax seal every beautiful ceramic bottle ourselves in the distillery. The distillery gardens that surround the buildings provide ingredients for our perfect serves, cocktails and limited editions.
Our distillation process uses a John Dore vapour infusion still and it is heated via a water bath on the base. We use cooling water from the burn at the rear of the distillery, which comes from the local loch.
As a husband and wife team, we don’t always agree, so we have two perfect serves! We like to keep things as simple and as pared back as possible to highlight the quality and flavour of our gin. Only the best tonic will do – never dilute a premium gin with a substandard mixer.
Martin’s perfect serve has 25ml of Rock Rose gin and 50ml of premium tonic poured into a balloon stem glass over lots of ice. A sprig of toasted rosemary is added as a garnish to enhance to full effect of the premium ingredients in the gin. Claire has the same but replaces the rosemary garnish with a curl of orange peel.
Learn more about Rock Rose Gin on their website.
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