Capital plays host to gin palace for 21st century

An artist's impression of Heads & Tales at the Rutland Hotel. Picture: comp
An artist's impression of Heads & Tales at the Rutland Hotel. Picture: comp
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GIN is making a comeback, with the first “palace” to the tipple set to open in the Capital since the Victorian age.

Back then, mother’s ruin was the scourge of civilised society, and the last of more than 40 distilleries once found in Edinburgh closed 150 years ago.

Now G&Ts are back in favour, and the Heads & Tales bar and distillery below the Rutland Hotel will be the city’s second producer to open this year, joining Pickering’s Gin, which was unveiled at Summerhall in April.

Gin fiends will be able to sip the juniper-infused spirit while watching it being produced in two stills, christened Flora and Caledonia. The announcement is a homecoming for trendy local brand Edinburgh Gin, which has been finished and bottled in the city since its launch, but is distilled in England.

Alex Nicol, managing director at Spencerfield Spirit, which produces Edinburgh Gin, said: “Edinburgh has a special relationship with gin stretching back centuries. To this day, more gin is drunk here per head of the population than in any other UK city.

“With our new visitor centre and distillery, coupled with the Heads & Tales gin emporium, Edinburgh’s great tradition for distilling looks set to be revived.”

Heriot-Watt University has partnered the venture, with students helping to create the gin distillery and providing research into the botanicals that will be used to create the spirit.

Paul Hughes, professor of brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt, said: “Edinburgh Gin is bringing distillation back to Edinburgh and we’ve been assisting by ensuring that the new stills produce the same high quality and flavours
that existing customers are used to.

“By selecting smaller stills, the team also has the opportunity to experiment. They’ll be able to recreate gins of days past, as well as coming up with completely original recipes.

“Edinburgh’s gin heritage has been largely forgotten. Hopefully, the opening of this centre will introduce more people to this complex spirit and remind people in the capital that gin is the true flavour of Edinburgh.”

Paul Waterson, of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said that the demand for locally-produced craft beer and spirits was fuelling the Edinburgh revival of gin.

He said: “If you look at the explosion in craft brewing in the past few years, where we now see many new local craft brewers, I think this is an extension of that. People want local produce, and ideas like this are very interesting to customers.”