Who’s behind Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka?
Set up by husband and wife team, Martin and Claire Murray, Dunnet Bay Distillery is located in the wilderness of the far north of Scotland. The couple are passionate about handcrafting spirits that celebrate the heritage and provenance of Caithness and pride themselves on using local hand-foraged botanicals.
The first spirit to come from the distillery, which is the most northerly in mainland Britain, was Rock Rose Gin. Launched last year to critical acclaim, the gin features a carefully selected collection of local and traditional botanicals, including juniper berries, rowan berries and sea buckthorn, which are used to create a truly exceptional gin with a unique flavour profile.
Where did it all start?
Martin learned distillation at Heriot Watt University where he was studying for a Masters in Chemical Engineering, but it wasn’t until 2011, after a 10-year career in the oil and gas industry, that he took the plunge to pursue his real passion.
He returned to Caithness and, together with his wife Claire, started to research potential possibilities and in 2012 took the decision to create one of their favourite drinks – gin, and there the Rock Rose Gin story began.
What sets Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka apart?
Many of the botanicals are hand foraged from the local cliffs and forests and its name comes from one of these botanicals, the Rhodiola rosea (a rose in the rocks), which was discovered on the distillery’s first botanical forage along the Caithness cliffs and which adds a delicate floral note to the gin. In fact, this precious plant that was once pillaged by the Vikings who believed it would give them extra strength and make them live to 200!
The distillery has also now added a Navy Strength Rock Rose Gin to its portfolio. With an ABV of 57%, the unique and delicious Rock Rose Gin taste shines through in cocktails and it comes in a striking navy grey bottle – a great choice for cocktail lovers and gin connoisseurs.
The latest release from Dunnet Bay Distillery collection is Holy Grass Vodka. This features the unusual botanical Holy Grass (or Anthoxanthum nitens), once discovered on the banks of the nearby Thurso River by Robert Dick, a legendary botanist from Tullibody, who lived in Thurso in the 1800s. Holy Grass, so-called as it was once used to bring a sweet, vanilla smell to church floors, brings a wonderful and distinct herbaceous flavour to his new vodka.
A celebration of local produce and ingredients, the spirit is also infused with a carefully crafted vapour of Highland apples and apple juice, to complement the sweetness of the Holy Grass. The result is a delicate and fresh vodka with a creamy smooth finish. Martin and Claire Murray have even devised a secret and completely unique way to distil the vodka, using Elizabeth, their traditional copper pot still, and Caithness stone.
What’s in the future for Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka?
Look out for some exciting limited editions, which will be released throughout the year. The distillery is also making a considerable investment into the garden area to provide a source of botanicals for future recipes.
Fleur de Belle
37.5ml Rock Rose
15ml Cocchi Rosa
Splash of Lagavulin
Add all ingredients (except Lagavulin) into a mixing glass then add ice.
Stir to chill and dilute.
In a chilled cocktail glass, add a splash of Lagavulin whisky and swirl to coat the glass.
Drain off the excess whisky then pour the chilled cocktail into the glass.
Garnish with a flamed orange zest & rosemary.
Where can I find out more about Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka?
Critical acclaim for both the taste and design of Rock Rose Gin is gaining momentum. Not only has the gin won a Bronze Medal for Best Gin at the world-renowned San Francisco World Spirits Competition, making it a top choice from the UK, it has also been named Best New Launch Design at the World Gin Awards 2015. Order your bottle at www.rockrosegin.co.uk.
The limited edition Navy Strength Rock Rose Gin comes in a striking ‘navy grey’ print on the iconic ceramic bottle and will also be available to the retail trade, RRP. £40. To place an order call 01847 851 287 and find out more at www.rockrosegin.co.uk/shop.