Once considered mother’s ruin, gin is now the modern tipple of choice. Gin parties, gin menus, ginvent calendars and even a gin hotel – the UK’s renewed passion for all things gin is fast creating a whole new industry and craft distilleries offering unique blends are on the rise. We caught up with East Lothian craft distillers Emma Bouglet and Jo Brydie to find out about their re-gin-eration and the story behind Fidra Gin.
It was a mutual love of gin that saw East Lothian friends Emma Bouglet and Jo Brydie start experimenting with a beautiful five-litre copper still they bought from a fellow gin maker. Nearly a year and several recipe experiments later, their venture into the wonderful world of gin began and they launched Fidra Gin in September last year. Their aim was to create a delicious, premium, locally foraged East Lothian craft gin with unique coastal ingredients.
So how did it all start?
Emma: Jo and I started experimenting at my kitchen table with our five-litre still called Sadie, testing different samples out on our friends and family. Once we had settled on a recipe we were happy with, we entrusted a small craft distillery near Aviemore to make larger quantities for us. But, our long-term plan is to make, bottle and label our gin back in East Lothian once we have the right equipment in place.
So what’s behind the name Fidra Gin?
Jo: Growing up in East Lothian gave me a real love for the sea. Many a beach walk would involve gazing over at the Fidra Lighthouse which was built by the father and uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson and it is widely thought that Treasure Island, from Stevenson’s best known book, was modelled on Fidra itself. When we discovered tales of gin smuggling by Dutch boats who would wind their way between Fidra and Craigleith before dropping their cargo for local boats to slip out under cover of darkness to collect, we knew that we had found our name.
Apart from its name, why is Fidra Gin so closely connected to East Lothian?
Emma: As we both live in East Lothian and have so much wonderful produce on our doorstep we wanted to strive towards provenance and source our ingredients as locally and naturally as possible. The key ingredients in our gin are juniper, rosehip, sea buckthorn, elderflower, lemon thyme and thyme. And, our key botanicals; rosehip and buckthorn, are hand picked by us from the stunning East Lothian coastline and hedgerows, whilst the lemon thyme which adds a fragrant and citrus touch to the gin is grown by both ourselves and Archerfield Walled Garden.
And your plans for the future?
The end of 2018 has been an amazing one and we are hoping that 2019 will be even better! By the end of the year we hope to be distilling Fidra Gin in a small distillery in East Lothian… watch this space!