The 18th century Scottish doctor who discovered that citrus fruits could help treat scurvy is to be honoured in the nation’s latest gin.
Dr James Lind, a pioneer of hygiene in the Royal Navy, has provided the inspiration for the name and flavour of the first gin from the entrepreneurs behind what will become Scotland’s first vertical distillery in Leith.
A wine bottle design has been created for the Lind & Lime Gin in recondition of Leith’s history as a trading port in wine, sherries and port, which can be traced back to the 14th century.
Seven different botanicals, including zest of a lime and pink peppercorns, have been used to create the gin, which is already on sale in a number of specialist outlets around the city.
Production of the new gin, as well as a sherry, has started on a temporary base for the Port of Leith Distillery ahead of work beginning on a £10 million complex in the docks area.
It will be the first purpose-built single malt distillery to be created in the city for more than a century.
Lind, the son of an Edinburgh merchant, became a medical apprentice in the city before joining the Royal Navy as a surgeon’s mate in the 1730s. He was on board HMS Salisbury in 1747 when he carried out one of the first controlled clinical trials recorded in medical science. He chose 12 men who had the classic symptoms of the disease, including putrid, bleeding gums, joint weakness and listlessness, and set about treating them in pairs with other previously suggested remedies.
By the end of the week, those on citrus fruits were well enough to nurse the others.
Lind retired from the navy the following year and went to study at Edinburgh University. He published his “Treatise of the Scurvy”, a celebrated review of literature on the disease, in 1753, by which time he was a practising physician.
The idea for the distillery was developed more than six years ago by Edinburgh school-friends Ian Stirling and Patrick Fletcher, who developed a love of whisky while sharing a flat in London. They started experimenting in their garden with a 40-litre pot still.
The pair have struck a deal with the Ocean Terminal shopping centre to take over a site next to an existing multi-storey car park, close to the home of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Leith, which opened on Giles Street in 1983.
The pair say their first drinks brands have been created to celebrate the maritime and distilling heritage of Leith, which was once a major centre for whisky production, blending, bottling and distribution.
Mr Stirling said: “We’ve thrown our full and unbridled energy into creating a gin forged entirely from the talent, heritage and industry of Edinburgh and its historic distilling district of Leith. In everything that we produce, our watchword is ‘balance’ and the recipe of seven botanicals has worked in harmony to create something really special.”
Mr Fletcher added: “Sherry plays a crucial role in defining the character of many of Scotland’s best-loved whiskies and the Bodegas Baron sherry will help form our whisky. So, while we wait for our whisky to mature, this is a perfect opportunity to give the sherry its moment in the limelight.”