Stirling Gin takes its name from the disarmingly pretty Scottish city its founders, Cameron and June McCann, call home. Green hills, rolling rivers and crumbling castles conspire to create historic and evocative picture perfect scenery; it looks almost exactly like the sort of town the kids at Hogwarts would have bunked off in, had they not been a. a big bunch of squares and b. fictional…
We were all wrapped up in the romance of the place when we spoke to Cameron McCann, and particularly giddy with cartoon heart-eyes when we learned that the gin’s first run was made on his and June’s 26th anniversary, on the 28th October 2015. We asked him if he thought the gin captured the spirit of their relationship, and were swiftly delivered a suitably Scottish answer: “Being an old romantic…” Cameron began, “NOT!”
Instead, Stirling Gin captures a hint of locality with a pinch of classic gin botanicals (juniper, dried orange and lemon peel and angelica) alongside Stirlingshire foraged nettles and dried basil to form a calm twist on classic gin.
Stirling Gin isn’t Cameron and June’s first foray into the spirit world; together they run a spirit emporium in the Stirling Highland Hotel, a vantage point that has seen them witness the “explosion of gin buying” in recent years. They also run the sell-out Stirling Gin Festival and as such have developed a passion for the spirit. On creating their own gin, Cameron said: “iInterest in artisan gin had just started and nothing was being done in Central Scotland… I felt this was wrong.”
To get started, the McCann’s installed a tiny copper pot still, lovingly nicknamed Jinty, in their kitchen and set about establishing a recipe. They worked through a pile of botanicals, distilling each separately and blending them together, eventually settling on their final recipe after almost 50 tweaks.
After finalising the recipe for Stirling Gin, the duo scaled up the quantities and decided to form a working partnership with Glasgow Distillery – the home of Makar Glasgow Gin – to help them with production.
The gin runs take place in Glasgow Distillery’s still, Annie, a 450-litre copper beauty from Carl Distilleries in Germany. Nettle and basil are placed in the gin basket at the top of the still, whilst juniper, angelica, orange and lemon are placed directly into the pot. There is no maceration period, so the still is started up straight away and each run produces 370 bottles of Stirling Gin, cut to 43% ABV.
Stirling Gin to taste…
To nose, this gin is compelling; it’s green and clean with a deep sweetness and is evocative of a meadow, fresh and wild. The juniper is noticeable, though not particularly herbal; instead it brings a rich, almost fruity undertone to the gin. As huge fans of Makar Glasgow Gin and its almost extreme juniper and rosemary profile, it’s fair to say that while much more subtle, that unmistakable waxy juniper core with its distinctly different medicinal tone is also here in Stirling Gin.
The sip takes an interesting journey – it first appears cooling, but the warmth and herbal depth from the nettles quickly works to heat up the tongue, bringing a fire that starts off slowly but increases in ferocity the longer its left in the mouth. There’s a juniper presence throughout, but the sweet earthiness of angelica and the orangey citrus linger long after the drink is finished. It’s very smooth at 43% and impressively sippable, even at room temperature.
Stirling Gin is a gentle spirit that strikes a fine balance between sweet and savoury and as such would work when playing with both elements. On the bottle, it’s suggested that a few torn basil leaves would perk up the serve and we can’t help but agree. It would also work well with an orange wheel in a G&T, or alternatively, accentuate the herbal tones with more basil!
While liquid is key, branding is also important and the bottle for Stirling Gin, though a little crude in places, neatly depicts the town of Stirling, with iconic local landmarks Stirling Bridge and Wallace Monument appearing in a cute sketch form.
They’re hot on social, too, with an active presence and ever growing number of followers, too. The McCann’s have also been working hard to build attention by holing up at various spirits events to showcase their delicious gin. This presence will only grow as they build up budget and expertise.
While Stirling Gin is currently made at Glasgow Distillery, it is very much Cameron and June’s project and they’re adamant that they’ll soon make the gin themselves. In Spring 2018 they’ll finish construction of their very own distillery in Stirling, wherein they’ll slowly build up capacity until they’re producing 400l batches. It’s really nice to see, a year or so into the game, a brand come good on the promise to transfer production to their own premises. Many start off with the best of intentions, but the headache of licensing, constructing and using their own distillery soon sees the hands on element fall by the wayside. The McCanns have not less this happen, and for that should be commended.
We’re huge fans. Stirling Gin blends hyper local and traditional botanicals with great success and the McCann’s, with their enthusiasm for the spirit and commercial know how, show great promise as makers; we can’t wait to see what expressions they come up with once they’ve got their own distillery up and running.
For more information about Stirling Gin, visit their website: www.StirlingGin.co.uk
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