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 and create LinGin?
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!
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's are the distillery and distillery process like?
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 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.
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.
Is the distillery open for tours and tastings?
We are getting building work carried out in the new premises to create a visitor/tasting room and separate still room. Once complete, we hope to open for tours but we’re still 2-3 months away from that yet. Hopefully once up and running, visitors will be able to view a short film about where we’ve come from and then be 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 – both production and pre-production/R&D stuff we’re working on and for those driving, they can take away a 5cl mini of LinGin original.
What have been the biggest challenges and achievements in your story 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! Getting our finalist nomination within 4 months of starting production, having somebody stand in front of you tasting LinGin for the first time and watching their eyes light up. I could go on and on 😊
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!
How would you describe LinGin in 3 words?
Complex, Fresh, Classic
What's your favourite way to drink LinGin?
I love my LinGin with Fever-tree light tonic and a quarter slice of fresh orange, and 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!)?
A few of the distilled, flavoured gins are very nice but just for 1 glass here and there and the liqueurs are great in prosecco! But I love gins that you can drink all night, so that means the classic, London dry ones – Jinzu, The Botanist and Tanqueray 10 are always on my shelf!
What's next / any exciting plans?
The move into our new premises and the creation of the visitor area and tours is foremost as it’s going on right now! But we have been working very hard on our next project which will be revealed soon and involves 3-4 new products. We are about to run the first pre-production run through the big still of the first of these new products so hopefully it should be on the shelves in time for Christmas. Maybe even the second of these new projects could be released by the year end too.
The Gin Guide's tasting notes and review of LinGin