Harris Gin & Juniper

The ‘Social Distillery’ was getting social again last weekend as we headed for Edinburgh to take part in the excellent Juniper Gin Festival 2016 rather appropriately held on World Gin Day. It was the perfect opportunity to bring some island spirit to the proceedings and share our Harris story with the gin lovers and aficionados of Scotland’s capital city.
We had a great few days in ‘Auld Reekie’ and the setting of Summerhall, the former Royal School of Veterinary Studies and now creative hub for the arts, provided the perfect place to set out our stall and enjoy the company of a whole host of our fellow gin-makers from across the country.
The Juniper Festival started out three years ago, the creation of Martin Duffy at Solid Liquids, a drinks events and consultancy company based in Edinburgh. Anticipating the rise in the popularity of Scottish gins he felt an annual celebration was in order and the event has since gone from strength to strength.

Organiser Shelbie Black tells us…
“Our aim is simple; to celebrate and contribute to the rise in conscious drinking. More than ever customers are interested in the back story of an alcoholic product.  With Gin being incredibly versatile (and distillers taking advantage of that), the range of brands available means a heightened curiosity, which we think leads to a more enjoyable drinking experience.  It is also a way for the smaller brands to showcase their products to a guaranteed interested audience.  It was clear over the weekend that everyone was trying new things and most people went home with a new favourite Gin that they had never heard of before!”

This year’s event proved to be the biggest and best one yet, with a host of new brands, new drinks and new Gin expressions.  With master distillers, brand representatives and passionate bartenders on every stall (or shed in our case) there were plenty of samples, G&Ts and a fair few cocktails to enjoy. Each stall was its own little show-and-tell with a range of talks, held by experts, as well as a Drinkmonger bottle shop so people could take home their favourites.

We were delighted to meet so many new people during the course of the festival and their response to our new gin was most heartening to say the least. Something with which Shelbie concurred…
“The lightness of Harris gin teamed with its citrus notes really made it a favourite of mine from the weekend.  The sea kelp distillate then added the slightly salty element that just rounded it off perfectly. The reception from everyone else was equal to my own, very impressed with the shed’s setup, the gin, and the staff.  Huge bonus points given for the gorgeous bottle design, which I only just discovered comes with matching glasses! I believe Harris gin set the bar at the bottle shop with around 120 bottles sold over the weekend.”

Festivals like these, which show such passion for product and attract an audience of open-minded and experimental spirit lovers, are a pleasure to participate in. With connection playing such an important role in our work, it affords us the opportunity to meet our gin drinkers face to face, to swap stories and share a more personal piece of our distilling lives with them.
We’re looking forward to attending the event again in 2017 and hope to discover many other events like this in towns and cities near you in the near future. Meantime, those of our friends and fans who reside in Glasgow should look out for the inaugural Glasgow Juniper Festival pencilled for 10th September at SWG3.

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