Creating our new Platinum Jubilee - Earl Grey Gin

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Good citrus is a gin maker’s dream...

Last year I identified a superb source of dried bergamot -  it’s surprisingly rare, well most of it does go into tea after all. A small packet of the fragrant peel sat on my samples shelf for some time; I knew the muse would come, the right time and the right complementary botanicals to join it in a new limited-edition gin.

The story starts in Scotland. We first visited the Braes of Glenlivet in 2020, after the first lockdown, our first summer escape after being trapped at home like so many others. We discovered the most wonderful little hideaway, a lodge, on a smallholding, in the middle of nowhere, just epic views of the hills and tales of many illicit whisky stills in the distant past. There’s much to enjoy here, hikes galore, cold water plunge pools, and a wood fired hot tub.

Our host, Ghillie Basan, unknown to us at the time, has since become a good friend; along with her charming and welcoming adult children Yazzi and Zeki. Ghillie moved to these parts in the 1990s to write the first Turkish cookery book in English and has been enchanted by the place ever since. On our first trip, Ghillie told us tales of wonderful local botanicals easily picked from the surrounding hills that she loved to use in cooking. As international travel proved difficult, we returned in 2021, and spent an incredibly enjoyable time talking food and whisky, and walking and running in the hills.

Walking wasn’t enough: Yazzi had us out on cross country runs, often passing through an abundance of heather, the fragrant flowers rising as we passed through. These had to be gathered and featured in some brew in the future. But where was this elusive Bog Myrtle (pictured below)? We’d recently discovered this incredible citrus botanical when climbing Beinn Resipol the previous week. It was a bright and hot day, we arrived in a glade full of the brush-like bush, the heat pouring down on us, the most intoxicating fragrance all around us and not a midge in sight. When we arrived in the Braes the following week and told our tale to Zeki, ‘oh yes, that’ll be the Myrtle’, the r’s rolling of his tongue like Rabbie Burns himself, ‘there’s a field of it over the wee hill, head to the stream, turn right and right again, you won’t miss it.’ Off we set, intrepid gin explorers, and yes, just under an hour later, we found it, duly harvested some branches, and made our happy way back.

The Scottish Highlands are a cherished haven to our beloved Queen, a place of solitude and refreshment. In fact, the Queen’s residence at Balmoral is not far from our own recently discovered haven, 20 miles as the crow flies. I find the wilderness here completely enchanting, the colours of the hills continuously change hour by hour, weather coming in and and going. I guess neurons in my mind must have started to connect in the vastness of this space, even before my own conscious had registered the fact. Scotland, the Queen’s favourite respite, her favourite afternoon tea Earl grey, heather the natural colour of those beloved Scottish hills and Bog Myrtle, the perfect citrus accompaniment to the bergamot peel.

When Ghillie first mentioned foraging botanicals, I knew I would make a gin with a Scottish twist, the Platinum Jubilee was the perfect excuse to make this a Royal Scottish gin, Wardington’s Original Ludlow Dry Earl Grey Gin.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I have enjoyed creating it. At Wardington’s we’re passionate about handcrafting the premium spirits from incredible botanicals. The fragrance of this gin makes for a refreshing G&T, but for those who like something shorter try our two Jubilee cocktails, the first the Queen’s favourite tipple before supper and the second a little twist on the late Queen Mother’s favourite.

Vivat Regina! Vivat Regina Elizabetha!

 

Gin & Dubonnet

One measure of Earl Grey Gin

Two Measures of Dubonnet

Ice, tumbler, stir and add a wedge of orange or twist of orange peel

 

Contessa Negroni

One measure of Earl Grey Gin

One measure of white vermouth

One measure of Campari or Amaro

Ice, tumbler, stir and add a wedge of orange or twist of orange peel

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