What did you do before started Linlithgow Distillery?
Ross and I ran our own IT support company for 21 years. Prior to that, Ross was in IT Consultancy and I did everything from selling bricks to the Russians, selling German brandy, delivering contract cars and working in a primary school with special needs children.
What made you decide to start Linlithgow Distillery?
We were lucky enough to sell the company in June 2016, but not ready to retire yet, we started discussing what to do with our lives. It was time to do something that we loved and we had a dream to bring spirit making back to Linlithgow as we are both passionate whisky drinkers and love everything “distillery”. Linlithgow has had 5 distilleries in its past, the last one closing its doors in 1983. Our ambitions would be ultimately to make a whisky again so watch this space!
How did you get from the idea to launching?
So the idea was born, in a hot tub, late one night in October 2016 after having quaffed a few gins! But it was 3 months later that we actually seriously sat down and discussed it. The company was formed in March 2017 and we each undertook to study and research various areas of distillation, botanicals, equipment, licensing etc. Finally in August 2017 we took possession of our first premises and installed the infrastructure from scratch ourselves.
Our still arrived late November and we played with it for 3 weeks before running our first pre-production run just before Christmas. After another couple of tweaks, we ran Batch 1 on 15th January 2018. We recruited a tasting panel of 119 local residents. Needless to say they loved being part of it! They had 7 different samples and it was one taster in particular who came up with the meadowsweet idea, which we loved and utilised as our main local botanical. Each of our products will have something foraged locally in it.
What have been the biggest challenges and achievements so far?
There are so many great bits! Making 119 new friends from the tasting panel, seeing our first ever production bottle, walking into a shop or bar and seeing our bottle on the shelf – that still gives us a huge thrill, every single time! Winning awards for some of our gins and in 2021 launching our new beautiful custom bottle for our premium LinGin products.
Our biggest challenge has been to create a flavour that is unique and is different from every other London Dry Gin out there! Every day is fascinating – there is always something new to see or learn and in this ever-evolving business, we are excited to see where the future takes us!
Can you tell us more about the distillery and distillation process?
We outgrew our present premises within 2 months of starting production in January 2018 so we are in the throes of moving to bigger premises. We use a Genio Still (called Gleann Iucha which is Gaelic for Linlithgow) which is a fabulous piece of equipment and is technologically advanced which satisfies our desire to use both traditional and modern methods. The stainless steel allows an incredibly smooth finish to the gin, which lends itself to being drunk neat, over ice, like a whisky. It also means that every single run that comes through the still is identical to the run before it, allowing complete continuity of product from batch to batch. We are also able to re-work all our heads and tails to extract every single drop of spirit which we can then re-use for botanical runs. Literally, nothing is wasted.
What botanicals do you use in LinGin?
We use Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Orris Root, Bitter Orange, Cassia, Cardamom and Cubeb Berries, along with 3 secrets (a pepper, a spice and a herb) plus of course our main flavour, Meadowsweet, which we forage ourselves from the canal bank behind our house.
Is the distillery open for tours and tastings?
The distillery is open for public tours and tastings. Visitors will be given a guided history through our mural whilst sipping a signature LinGin G&T then taken on a guided tour through our gin-making process from botanicals to distillation and bottling. Then they will be able to have a taste of some samples and for those driving, they can take away a 5cl mini of LinGin original. They will also get a discount voucher for any purchases made in the shop on the day.
How would you describe LinGin in 3 words?
Complex, Fresh, Classic
What's your favourite way to drink your gin?
I love my LinGin with Fever-tree light tonic and a quarter slice of fresh orange, Ross loves his with Fever-tree Mediterranean tonic and a small sprig of fresh rosemary.
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
A few of the distilled, flavoured gins are nice but just for 1 glass here and there. But I love gins that you can drink all night, so that means the classic, London Dry Gins. Roku Gin and The Botanist Gin are always on my shelf!
What's next for you and Linlithgow Distillery - any exciting plans?
Having just launched our custom bottle, we will be launching the latest cask aged LinGin in the new bottle and then launching our LinGin Navy Strength later in the year – a recipe we have had for over 2 years but have never released. But now with the new bottle, it is time.