I popped along to the number one spirits shop in Glasgow, The Good Spirits Company, to pick up a bottle of gin to work on some cocktail ideas. I was faced with the exceedingly difficult decision of picking only one bottle from their extensive range. Luckily help was on hand from Matthew, one of the owners. He let me try a range of different elixirs from their many tasting bottles.
Finally, after trying a few different gins and a lot of humming and hawing from my part, I decided to pick up a bottle of Stirling gin (mainly because it comes with a free bag!). It’s been on the market for a while and must have slipped under my radar. But that’s not surprising because there are far too many effing gins these days! It used to be that only your gran drank gin but now it seems everyone and their gran drink the stuff.
About the Gin
Stirling Gin is the brainchild of June and Cameron McCann, a couple who have a love of all things junipery. They run the Stirling gin festival and have been selling gin from both a hotel and shop in the local area. They also worked on distilling their own small batch gin in their house in a little still called ‘Jinty’. This let them experiment with different recipes before they found something that they really liked. Their recipe includes classic botanicals such as juniper, dried orange and lemon peel and angelica. It also includes foraged nettles from Stirlingshire along with dried basil.
Where in Stirling is this gin made you might ask. Is it up the top of the Wallace monument? Down in the dungeons of the castle? Or maybe it could it be made in the gorilla pen at Blair Drummond Safari park? No, it’s made in Glasgow! In fact, it’s made in the same distillery that produces Makar gin. A gin that divides the masses. Luckily I’m one of the ones that really likes Makar. Not just because I’m Glaswegian and have a sense of duty to follow all things Glaswegian (apart from that other football team from here). It’s because I have taste. I actually like gin that tastes of juniper and not gin that tastes of raspberries or a cheap holiday pina colada.
Tasting the Stirling gin
I’ve hated nettles since I was a boy. Mainly because they stung me when I got my football out of the bushes. But now I’m starting to love them and the grassy aroma they bring to this spirit. The high-intensity herbal aromas jump out the glass at you. I’m definitely getting the basil and the earthiness from the angelica. There is a reminiscence of the character of Makar gin with the juniper aromas but it is certainly toned down a bit.
On the palate, it’s dry but with a nice mouthfeel. There are bitter oranges mixed with basil and a subtle anise flavour. The juniper carries all the way through to the finish, not overpowering but always there. Subtle but complex, not too sure if I could drink a lot of it neat but who drinks gin neat anyway? I think it’s a very accomplished gin that not only offers some classic flavours for the true gin purest but also a little somethin’ somethin’ for the more adventures drinkers out there.
- 50ml Stirling gin
- 120ml Doctor Polidori dry tonic
- Orange zest garnish
The juniper works really well with the herbal tonic and still is noticeable. The nettles and basil also stay strong and are great additional flavours in a classic G&T. I used ‘Doctor Polidori Dry Tonic’ which made this a very dry tasting drink. It worked for me, but for some it might be a tad too much. I’m definitely going to give it a go with some Fever Tree just to see how that works.
- 75ml Stirling gin
- 25ml Dolin
- Lemon twirl garnish
This works great in a ratio of 3:1, gin to vermouth. I tried it with a 2:1 ratio, which is what I usually do, but it was a little overpowering for the subtle characters of the gin. At 3:1 the herbal/grassy notes in the gin complement the vermouth. It has balanced sweetness, a great mouthfeel and it really hides the alcohol. I might have to have one more of these. Or two. Or three (and floor….)
- 50ml Stirling gin
- 15ml Yellow Chartreuse
- 22.5ml Lemon juice
- 12.5ml Basil sugar syrup
- Basil leaf garnish
This is a cocktail I came up with myself!! It’s a variation on a classic gin daisy. To make it you have to use a basil sugar syrup but don’t worry it’s a doddle to make. All you need to do is, get a pan and combine 1 part water to 2 parts sugar. Then add a handful of basil and bring it to a simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Take it off the heat and let it sit cooling for 30 minutes or so. Once your sugar syrup is cooled, add it with the other ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add some ice and shake. Double strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a basil leaf.
I really enjoyed tasting Stirling Gin and I would recommend it to most people. I picked up a bottle for £34.50 which makes it mid-priced for a quality gin (but you do get a free bag). There are definitely some interesting cocktail possibilities and I’m looking forward to playing about with it in some drinks (which I will be posting on my Instagram feed). I’ve heard the McCann’s want to build their own distillery in Stirling and I can’t wait to try their own spirit. I hope they do build it in the gorilla pen at Blair Drummond Safari Park. It would fit in with the current gin brands like Monkey 47, Elephant gin etc and it would give the gorillas something to do to pass the time.
You can pick up a bottle of the Stirling Gin here