As I stood at the bar, gentling flicking my long blonde locks from my eye-line and readjusting my more than ample cleavage, I couldn’t help but feel that it was perhaps just a little bit chilly to have come out for the evening wearing little more than a swimming costume and a smile…
Still, as I checked my reflection in a nearby mirror, reassuring myself that my lipstick hadn’t smeared, I could feel that the attention of the room was fully on me. And I knew I looked good.
Yep. It was September, 2014. And as I stood in an Edinburgh bar, dressed as Baywatch pin-up ‘C J Parker’ (played by Pamela Anderson), I couldn’t help but feel that I’d been stitched up slightly. But then again, when you’re the ‘Stag’ and it’s your ‘Do’, donning a retro red swimming costume and a blonde wig could be seen as getting off lightly!
Now, I’ve only ever been to Scotland twice. Both occasions were ‘Stag Do’s’ (note to reader: only one being my own!) and both involved sightseeing of a more liquid persuasion…
And if my experience to Scotland to date has been ‘short, but sweet’, then it’s perhaps fitting then that my latest exposure to the ‘bonny Highlands’ arrived at the doorstep as a small, boozey package of joy. Allow me to introduce you to Scotland’s latest resident; Mackintosh Gin. ‘Short, but sweet’ indeed.
Distilled and bottled in Angus, affectionately known as ‘the birth place of Scotland’ and full of Viking, Roman & Celtic history, Mackintosh is the gin scenes ‘new kid on the block’. And family is at the heart of this operation, run by its founders James (Jim) & Deborah, with their three daughters all involved in the brand.
There is a finesse to the look and feel of the bottled end product. The labelling feels rustic yet refined, with the ‘Lover’s Knot’ emblem burning bright red on the slightly off-white background. It’s aesthetically pleasing, demanding of attention and intrigues you to pour (to which I would willingly oblige).
Despite the proud heritage of their homeland, Mackintosh Gin does not rigidly stipulate that its ingredients MUST be foraged locally. Rather, the 9 botanicals in question are sourced from all over the world, based on Jim & Deborah’s pursuit of quality. For example, the juniper & citrus are from Italy and Spain, whilst the coriander & angelica are from Eastern Europe. That said, the elderflower is picked in Angus a few yards from the couples front door, and the grapefruit is sourced locally too! (Well, sourced from the local shop at least – the Scottish climate being what it is…)
But what of the taste you ask? Ever the professional, I was donning the red swimsuit once again; it was time to dive in to the juniper infested waters…
On the nose, there is a real sense of sweet lemon zest and orange peels. Mixed with the unmistakable scent of zingy coriander, it is reminiscent of lemon sherbet boiled sweets. There is a lightly spiced earthiness to the gin, with a slight herbaceous sense – it’s almost menthol with an aniseed kick. Cinnamon and ginger tones bring a sweet warmth to the vapours. You can imagine this being a winter warmer of a drink that you’d turn to when exposed to the elements on a cold winters day!
When tasted neat, there are bigger & bolder orange notes than I was expecting, perfectly complemented by the warming sweet spice suggestions of cinnamon & ginger. There’s a delicious medicinal aniseed profile to the gin, delivered in a powerful (but not aggressive) hit. There is a brilliant balance of sweetness and spice on the pallet – the spice zings on the front of the tongue & up through your nose, whilst a sweet warmth hits the back of the throat. And throughout it all, those lush green, herbal qualities remain, showcasing the bright & almost grassy coriander.
Adding a splash of water to the equation only serves to emphasise all of the points made above. I’ve not had a gin quite like it before, where the flavours and profile are so brilliantly clear and distinguishable without being masked by harsh booze. An impressive feat, given that Mackintosh still packs a 42% ABV.
I initially served the Mackintosh Gin with a premium light tonic & fresh orange garnish to pull forward the citrus flavours. There is a delightful, almost burnt bitterness to the orange, that make this a sublime G&T! The flavours are perfectly balanced, supported by a smooth and luxury mouth feel. I was also thrilled to find plentiful tones of piney juniper in my glass, shining ever brighter with the inclusion of the tonic. Simply superb.
Testing the water…
But how would the gin stand up to my favourite classic gin cocktail; The ‘Negroni test’? I can tell you now, it was no Hassel(hoff) at all – Mackintosh pass the test with flying colours!
That bitter burnt orange marmalade flavour profile blends so well with the bitterness of the Campari, seemlessly kicking out bright citrus notes with the orange vapours rushing up your nose. And this gin certainly stands up for itself, with no life guards required – the juniper stands tall, not willing to be lost amongst the bold flavours of this cocktail. The Mackintosh Negroni retains a slightly savoury feel from those aforementioned herbs, with a gentle spiced warmth on the tip of the tongue and back of throat. It was an absolute delight to drink.
I’ll be there…
So there you have it. A newcomer to the market, sure. But this gin is going to be making some ‘waves’, I have no doubt about it.
As Jimi Jamison once sang, ‘some people stand in that darkness, afraid to step into the light’. And ‘some people need to have somebody, with the edge of surrender insight’…
Well, I don’t know about all that. But one thing I do know is this; I may not have frequented the shores of Scotland as much as I’d like, but when the gin is this good ‘dont you worry, it’s going to be alright. Because I’m always ready, I wont let you (Mackintosh Gin) out of my sight’.
If I’m to head north of the boarder again anytime soon, then name the time & place Mackintosh…’I’ll be there’…
With huge thanks to Jim & Deborah for my Mackintosh Gin samples!
Be sure to follow the Mackintosh Gin story at across social media @mackintoshgin and via their website: http://www.mackintoshgin.com
And don’t forget to stop by @theginshelf across all social media platforms for more blogs & event updates. Come and say ‘Hi’ & chat gin!
Sounds a cracker. Not seen it down here, yet. What size kit are they distilling on?
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Hi! And thanks! The team are based in Scotland & only launched at the back end of this year, so are relative newbies to the Market. It’s a fantastic gin though – I really enjoyed it! I’ll ask Jim for some details on the size of kit / batch sizes and let you know. Where abouts are you based? I think you may be able to buy direct from the team, but I can ask if they distribute anywhere near you? Cheers, Matt, The Gin Shelf
Hi! Jim came back to me:
They use a 200 litre modular still, first batch was 292 bottles (70CL). They’re doing their second batch next week and expect a similar yield.
Hope this helps?
Matt, The Gin Shelf