There are few better examples of how huge the gin explosion has been in Scotland than the success of Gin71. Its original site on Renfield Street in the heart of Glasgow has now been joined by another a couple of kilometres away in the Merchant City neighbourhood, as well as another site in Edinburgh. The group’s dedication is such that the food menu has also been inspired by gin, and they’ve recently created their own gin spa.
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2. 56 North
Taking its name from Edinburgh’s latitude, 56 North is one of Scotland’s pioneering gin bars. An advanced mathematics degree would be required to work out just how many possible combinations of gins, tonics and garnishes you can have here, but suffice to say, it’s a lot. Aside from the stylish interior and fabulous selection, the bar has become incredibly popular for its gin masterclasses, which educate newcomers to the spirit on what to look out for and how to mix it.
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Whether it’s your first visit to Edinburgh or your 50th, you’ll almost certainly end up on Princes Street at some point. The city’s main retail artery runs underneath the mighty Edinburgh Castle and is home to all manner of shops, restaurants, and hotels. Unsurprisingly, then, you’ll also find a gin bar there – the stand-out Juniper. While it’s entirely possible to order a standard gin and tonic here, your time and money would perhaps be better spent on one of their sensational, award-winning gin cocktails.
4. The Finnieston
Even the most casual visitor to Glasgow won’t have failed to notice the rise and rise of Finnieston in recent years. A one-time no-go area, it is now perhaps the most vibrant neighbourhood in the city; each month a new bar or restaurant seems to open and dazzle critics. What it lacks in imagination with its name, The Finnieston bar makes up for with its abundant quality in seafood and drink, particularly gin.
5. The Jolly Botanist
There’s surely no better-named gin bar anywhere in Scotland than The Jolly Botanist. Committing to the olde-worlde theme, the Morrison Street property isn’t located on any of Edinburgh’s main thoroughfares, but certainly is worth the minor detour to get there (it’s also very handy if you happen to be going to the Haymarket train station). The 60-plus gins here aren’t an afterthought, but you’d be remiss not to also have a meal at the outstanding restaurant inside.
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At the time of writing, Crossbill owner Jonathan Engels was still awaiting local government approval to start selling gin on-site at his new Hatchery Gin School, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit and load up on the good stuff. As well as being able to sample his award-winning Crossbill Gin, Engels offers semi-regular classes to teach visitors how to make their own. The master distiller provides all the necessary elements: a still, base alcohol, and a mix of botanicals with which to add to your Scottish juniper.
– TEXT BY JAMIE LAFFERTY
PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM, GIN71 FACEBOOK, JUNIPER FACEBOOK, THE JOLLY BOTANIST, THE FINNIESTON BAR & RESTAURANT FACEBOOK, CROSSBILL GIN FACEBOOK
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.