Raising a glass to a Scottish distillery

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On the western fringes of the Pentland Hills, you will find one of Scotland’s smallest gin distilleries, which can’t wait to share its unique, handcrafted product with visitors to the GWCT Scottish Game Fair.

Tarbraxus Distillery is the vision of Phil and Tabatha Cox not to mention Panza, the chocolate Labrador, who really runs the place.

The idea for the distillery came on a starry night whilst enjoying a soak in the hot tub back in 2017 before a full plan was hatched. Initial thinking began in 2017 and after a lot of going one way and then another the plan began to come together (yup – there was a plan!)

The distillery itself – home to Amy, its 60-litre copper still – is tiny, producing annually around 500 litres of gin but this, of course, simply ensures that its top-quality ingredients and botanicals all receive first-class attention to deliver the perfect drink.

The first Original Pentland Hills Gin came to the market in November 2018 and quickly established itself as a favourite with lovers of hand crafted, small batch gin.

Also at the heart of the process is a drive to deliver a first-class product in as sustainable manner as possible. All production takes place on the couple’s small farm – solar panels provide power and several of the botanicals used in the gin are grown on the farm. They have even planted juniper bushes to generate their own supply of Scottish berries as the base for the gin.

All the bottles and gin glasses are etched on site, together with the bottling and packaging. And, while Royal Mail takes the bottles away, crucially it also brings them back to be refilled.

Phil said: “The refill service is very much at the heart of our sustainable vision. Each hand-etched bottle is also uniquely numbered, allowing our customers to return their bottles whenever the wish to have them refilled. We provide the gin in a bespoke box to facilitate movement backwards and forwards to the distillery.”

Pentland Hills Gin is offered in Original and Navy Strength. Both gins are award winning, which is amazing given the size and capacity of the distillery.

The Original Gin is offered at 40% abv with the Navy Strength coming in at 58% abv. The Navy Strength Gin is distilled in honour of Phil’s paternal grandfather who was lost, along with many of his shipmates, aboard the Destroyer HMS Electra in 1942.

While the ‘perfect serve’ involves 25ml of Pentland Gin, topped up with a non-flavoured tonic, ice, a slice of pink grapefruit or orange and a few mint leaves, one of the couple’s favourite tipples is a Scottish-inspired Martini.

Grab a bottle at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair and try this out:

THE ISLAY MARTINI RECIPE

  • Add ice to two martini glasses and place in fridge.
  • Half-fill your shaker with ice and glug in (50ml) of dry vermouth. and 150ml Pentland Hills Gin and put the lid on.
  • Zest a lemon with a lemon zester tool.
  • Shake like mad for two minutes, like a dog coming out of a pond!
  • Take your glasses from the fridge and toss out the ice.
  • Pour equal measures into each glass.
  • Add a generous pinch of lemon zest.