In the last two weeks I have been on two new spirit (gin and whisky) tours in Edinburgh and both are brilliant in different ways – the first was Lind and Lime gin in Leith and the second was on Princes St the new home of Johnnie Walker.
Lind and Lime Gin
This tour celebrates Leith as the home of distilling and glass making.
The Lind part come from James Lind who was born in Edinburgh in 1716. After some informal medical training at Edinburgh University, he joined the Royal Navy in 1738 as a Surgeons’ Mate, and by 1747 he had become Surgeon of a ship called HMS Salisbury. It was on this vessel that he conducted what is recognised today as one of the first clinical trials ever recorded, which played a significant part in the story of the prevention of scurvy the need for vitamin C – ie limes. In the late 1850s Lachlan Rose (1829-1885), the son of a Leith shipbuilder, set up a business provisioning ships. Among these provisions in 1863 was lime juice – a commodity every sea going vessel was required to carry by virtue of the Merchant Shipping Act, as a protection against scurvy at a time when the carrying of fresh fruit and vegetables was not possible on long journeys.
At this time lime juice was used solely for medicinal purposes but being an astute businessman Lachlan decided to make it more suitable for popular consumption. He sweetened the juice and put it in bottles turning it into a new and attractive beverage. And so ‘Rose’s Lime Juice’ with its distinctive bottle bearing the lime leaves and fruit emblem was born.
The Perfect Gin and Tonic
We were given a brief introduction with a double gin and tonic (1 part gin to 2 parts tonic and loads of ice!) and a 75 minutes tour – very quick as just one room and one still! The focus was on the botanicals; the classic ‘base’ botanicals: coriander seeds, angelica rood, orris root and liquorice root plus the gorgeous addition of pink peppercorns which give a wonderful sweet balance to the juniper and lime peel – thanks James Lind.
Once the gin has been distilled it gets bottled – we all had a go and got to keep our bottle with the label expertly or not centred – that is after 50ml of gin!
Message On A Bottle
In the 18th and 19th centuries, whisky merchants gradually began to dominate the shore as Leith became Scotland’s national hub for the maturation and export of the country’s national spirit. The key raw materials for making glass were locally abundant: sand and kelp (a large sea-weed) and the first records of glass production in Leith emerge from the mid to late 17th century. It was this remarkable local industrial heritage that inspired Lind and Lime to choose a wine bottle shape for our gin. They also embossed the words ‘Leith Glass Works’ on the base of the bottle.
I loved the gin so much I bought a bottle £35 – no need to add citrus and the tonic is recommended to be light, so as not to detract from gin flavour.
This would be a super tour to do after you have lined your stomach on my Eat The World International Food Tour Lind and Lime 24 Coburg Street, Leith, EH6 6HB, just a short walk from the foot of Leith Walk or The Shore.
Johnnie Walker Whisky
And just when I thought it couldn’t get much better – I went on the Johnnie Walker (JW) Journey of Flavour Whisky Experience at 145 Princes St, at The West End – it was all very slick from choosing our favourite flavours on a laptop questionnaire – bananas? Treacle? vanilla ice cream to determine our preferred JW whisky –
Then 22 of us were whisked up in the lift for our first Highball of the evening – depending on our whisky preferences, then a very slick presentation with an actor dressed in tail coat and hat – telling us how JW went from being an orphaned farm boy from Kilmarnock to setting up a grocer shop which blended whiskies to suit the individual customers then as the JW dynasty expanded they acquired various key Scottish distilleries so they could offer more blends.
Our guide even produced flavoured smoke so we could get our noses round smoky, salty, fresh, green candles, waxy then we ended our tour at the bar and an Old Fashioned with various liqueurs and then we were tempted to hit the roof bar for one for the road and ten per cent off drinks and food with this fantastic Edinburgh view – stunning with no need for alcohol enhancement.
Whisky cocktails with a view
I loved both tours – go on both and learn more about the Scottish traditions of alcohol which is vey much alive and contemporary in 2022
So book a tour – afternoon or evening: Lind and Lime £25 and Johnnie Walker £28. Both include generous measures of gin and whisky.