The recent resurgence in the popularity of gin has brought this noble and wonderful drink back to the fore. The wealth of small dedicated craft gin makers are the inspiration behind the many gin festivals that take place throughout the UK. So this November, The Nether Abbey Hotel and Bar hosts East Lothian’s very first gin festival alongside its hugely popular beer festival.

Over the last few years beer and alcohol festivals have becoming increasingly popular. This is mostly down to the nation’s new found love of real ales, craft beers, ciders and, more recently, gin. Typically enjoyed by the older generation, these tipples over the last decade, have also become adopted by a younger hipster generation seeking drinks with a more interesting taste and story created by individuals – rather than faceless international corporations. Jela and Stirling Stewart, owners of North Berwick’s Nether Abbey Hotel and Bar, agree; “We held our first beer festival 25 years ago and I remember Stirling’s father, Dennis, saying to me that it would never ‘take off’! Well over two decades later, we’re still organising our annual Beer Festival – dedicated to beer!” With the increasing number of local micro-breweries this three day festival (8th to 10th November) goes from strength to strength as festival goers are offered an opportunity to try a range of over 40 craft and real ales from all over the country, including ales brewed exclusively for The Nether Abbey. 

Once considered mother’s ruin, gin is now the modern tipple of choice and there is no denying it is one of the world’s fastest growing spirits. Our renewed passion for all things gin is fast creating a whole new industry, and craft distilleries offering unique blends are on the rise. This in turn has led to a passion from both producers and gin lovers to explore new botanicals and new ways of enjoying the spirit, be it with garnishes, tonics or in cocktails. It is exactly this passion and creativity which is the driving force behind The Nether Abbey’s very first Gin Festival and Christmas Gin Fayre. Jela explains “Gin is having such a resurgence. It’s visual, imaginative and creative – from the copper stills to the wild botanicals it offers. Nearly every gin has a back story and every artisan gin producer loves talking about this rich botanical world and creating enjoyable flavours.

These stories will be told on the 8th and 9th November at The Nether Abbey’s Gin Festival. It will be a discovery into the heart of gin inspired by the theatre and stories behind this centuries-old craft. The Gin Hall and Perfect Serve Bar, sponsored by Edinburgh Gin, will provide a selection of gins and gin liqueurs. There is an opportunity to meet Cushidoos, a small batch tonic made with Highland botanicals and Scottish Mountain Water. Visitors can talk to gin expert, author and ‘doyenne of gin’ Fiona Laing. Her book ‘The Gin Clan’ tells the stories of the distillers and makers who are creating beautifully crafted gins, using the finest locally-sourced ingredients. The book looks at Scotland’s gin origins, its future and the gins from crofts, towns, herb gardens and even an old vet school! 

Festival goers can meet the makers and sample their gins, including; Edinburgh Gin, Pickering’s Gin, The Old Poison Distillery, Pentland Hills Gin (with Panza the Dog), Edinburgh Distillers, Fidra Gin, Eden Mill and BrewDog’s gin – Lone Wolf. Plus, there will be Christmas gin specials and gift ideas. A signed edition of ‘The Gin Clan’ would also make a perfect Christmas gift. Your ticket provides guaranteed entry to the 3.5-hour session of your choice on either Friday or Saturday at 12.30 and 5.00pm. The ticket price includes a Gin Festival glass to keep, Gin Brochure and Tasting Notes, a Gin and Tonic token for the Perfect Serve Bar, and entry to the Meet The Maker Hall and sampling sessions.  

It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced gin drinker or just getting started, there will be something for everyone. And for that non-gin-loving friend? Remember the gin festival runs hand-in-hand with the beer festival, with free entry to the Beer Marquee, the BrewDog Tap, entertainment, and fantastic food from the kitchens of Nether Abbey Hotel. 


entry to beer festival is free | tickets for Gin Festival (£15) from The Nether Abbey Hotel and Bar or (booking fee applies)