Spirits

Our Spirits

Our spirits take inspiration from a mixture of Celtic folklore and the natural Hebridean beauty of the island. Our spirits are hand-made in small batches of 160 bottles to recipes that are closely guarded by our special helper, ALVA, a delightful, red-haired maiden, who lives at the home of Wild Thyme Spirits – Tigh na Uruisg – which means Home of the Spirit. Our spirits are all about a sense of place and the heartfelt passion of those who make them.

Spirits

Respecting tradition

Colonsay Gin is in the classic London Dry style and is juniper led. In an increasingly crowded market place, where ‘gold rush’ fever seems to be driving distillers to come up with the most obscure and rare mix of ‘hand foraged’ botanicals, we have made the conscious decision to stick to a more traditional gin. After all, gin without the juniper is just flavoured vodka is it not?! The explosion of ‘alternative’ tonics now on the market that can accompany a traditional gin, allow the customer infinite opportunity to explore new tastes, combinations and cocktails.

This is a classic gin in many ways. There’s big, booming juniper pine throughout and in particular upfront. There’s no mistaking this as a juniper forward gin, flanked by an earthy root sweetness. There’s depth too, the coriander seed bring warmth, while the orange peel gives a subtle breath of citrus and the calamus brings its usual fiery ginger-like rootiness. The gin lives on long after the final sip and the lasting finish is that of sweet roots. With tonic, a savoury aroma settles across Colonsay Gin, while the quinine bitterness runs riot with the ginger-like calamus root. Juniper asserts itself confidently, coating the mouth with a waxy, fir-tree like pine and the earthier nature of the roots seems louder, imbuing the drinker with that deep sense of calm that only comes from sticking their hands in cool, dark soil.

Gin Foundry – April 2017

Spirits

Colonsay Gin

In Celtic folklore every house had a Brownie or Spirit, or in Gaelic, an Uruisg {oor-isk} to help with household chores. They were traditionally male, small in stature, illusive, and worked only at night. They became attached to particular families and estates, with whom they stayed for centuries. But from the remote Hebridean island of Colonsay, tales of a something different began to emerge, tales of alchemy, tales of ALVA, a delightful, red-haired maiden, a very special Brownie with supernatural powers, a Gruagach {groo-ah-gak}. Long, long ago she somehow survived when her Viking long boat crashed on Colonsay’s unforgiving rocks. She stumbled ashore and took shelter at Tigh na Uruisg {tee-na-oor-isk}, or home of the spirits, where she remains to this day. Legend has it that she uses all her powers to protect her secret recipes from those desperate to know. With an alchemist’s delicate touch she transforms humble botanicals into gin. Not many get to see her beauty, but all get to taste her fabulous gin.

Smooth and slightly sweet, as if kissed by the maiden herself, strong juniper notes then transport you to a pine-fresh walk through the magnificent woodlands of Colonsay House, before the flavour develops into a delicate balance of spice, peppery notes and lemon sherbet; the latter lingering, as clean and refreshing as a dip in the clear blue waters of Kiloran Bay.

View Production Gallery

Spirits

Production

The process for making our Colonsay Gin is fairly straight forward. We charge our 100L copper still with Grain Neutral Spirit (GNS) and water to a percentage of approximately 48% ABV. The Juniper berries are bruised and then combined with the other botanicals such as Angelica Root, Calamus Root, and Coriander. There are others but these remain one of ALVA’s best kept secrets. The botanicals are then macerated with the GNS in the still for 30 minutes. Once the botanicals have had this soak we then distil the gin very slowly, a normal distillation will take approximately 6 hours to complete. Once we have collected the finished spirit it is then held in a holding tank for 4 or 5 days to mellow out and blend all the distillate. At that point we then cut the gin to the required 47% ABV, and again let it rest for 24 hours. After checking the ABV again we then move on to bottling the finished product.

Spirits

Signature Serve

Serve as a Colonsay G&T with Fever Tree Premium Tonic and a twist of orange peel or, for a change, why not try Colonsay Gin with Poachers Well Florida Orange and Irish Rosemary Tonic as a hi-ball, over loads of ice. Or try a classic cocktail:

Colonsay Bramble
2 shots (50ml) Colonsay Gin
1 shot (25ml) Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 shot Sugar syrup
1/2 shot Creme de Mure

Method:

1. Pour the Gin, Lemon Juice and sugar syrup into your shaker, half-fill with ice, and shake until ice cold
2. Strain into a tall glass filled with more crushed ice,
3. Drizzle the Creme de Mure over the top so it trickles through the ice all the way down the glass
4. Garnish with fresh blackberries and a slice of lemon

This is a lovely gin, refreshing and really nice with elderflower tonic as well. Will definitely be ordering another bottle. Highly recommend.

Liz White – March 2017

Spirits

Awards

New York International Spirits Competition 2017 – Silver Medal

We saw this competition as an opportunity to place Colonsay Gin in front of working industry professionals in one of the biggest beverage markets in the world. All of these judges buy liquor for a living. So we are delighted to be awarded a silver medal only three months after launching the product, especially when there were up against close to 600 spirits from around the world competing this year.

About the Competition

The NYISC is part of the International Beverage Competition group that holds international beer, wine, and spirits competitions in New York, Berlin, Melbourne, and Hong Kong, and continues to grow in stature as more producers and trade buyers embrace the philosophy of a blind tasting competition with only real trade buyers judging the competition.

What sets it apart from other international beverage competitions is its TRADE ONLY blind judging panel. The retail store buyer, sommelier, restaurant beverage director, hotelier, distributor and importer are the judges. These judges, whose livelihood rely upon their skill set, truly know what the consumer wants, as they receive on a daily basis the feedback from the consumer of what is good and what will sell.

The medals are awarded on a merit basis by a majority vote. The judges are instructed to grant no awards or medals when, in their opinion, the spirits are not ones they would import, distribute, buy or sell in their businesses based on product and price category. Judges are asked to evaluate the spirits in silence until all panel members have finished their evaluation and then open a discussion to reach a consensus. Judge votes are recorded by a NYISC staff moderator. If there is a significant difference among the judges’ votes, panellists are encouraged to reach a consensus and, if needed, seek counsel from the Head Judge.

Spirits

Awards

The Global Gin Masters 2017 – Silver Medal

About the Competition

The Global Spirits Masters is one of the most renowned blind tasting competitions in the world, and with a commitment to using only independent judges, is also one of the most impartial. Distillers and bottlers from across the globe enter all manner of spirits from Scotch and Cognac to gin and vodka, to be assessed on aroma, flavour and balance in an effort to win a coveted Silver, Gold or Master medal. Each entry is judged on its own merits by specialist judges and according to its category, ensuring the liquid is assessed as fairly as possible.

The judges were:

Ben Lindsay – Director, Garnish Communications

Ben Manchester – Bar Manager, Hubbard & Bell at Soho House

Brian Calleja – Bar Manager at the Bloomsbury Club

Tobias Gorn – Consultant, Boisdale

Rui Costa – Head Bartender, Pollen Street Social

Jason Window – Business Development Manager, Mr Fogg’s Gin

Sarah Duffill – Bar Manager, The Trading House

David T Smith – Founder, Craft Distilling Expo

Cheery Constable – Freelance Wine & Spirits Writer

Nikolai Clerc – Bar Manager, Street XO

Sam Mitchell – Bar Manager, Gillray’s (Marriot Hotels)

Nicola Thomson – Director, 1571

Luca Cordiglieri – President of the UKBG

Anna Marnez – Heads Bartender, Street XO

The results from each competition are printed in The Spirits Business magazine and also published online, while at the end of the year the most impressive expressions are named best in class at a glittering awards ceremony held in London.