Photo of
December 10, 2018

Last Friday, the 5pm Food blog was invited out to The Old Curiosity Distillery, part of The Secret Herb Garden on Old Pentland Road, just outside of Edinburgh.

Established in 2014, the 7.5 acre site is an event space, café, educational facility and nursery which grows more than 600 different herbs.

Since last year, Hamish Martin and family have been using the herbs and botanicals they grow here to make a range of rather special gins.

Add tonic and they change colour before your eyes. So the floral Apothecary Rose Gin changes from pale gold to vibrant pink while the Lavender & Echinacea Gin switches from an inky blue to effervescent lilac. The Chamomile & Cornflower goes from an aquatic blue to a periwinkle purple.

Let the festive gin begin

The Old Curiosity Gin core range.

The Old Curiosity Gin core range.

The colour change is a fun novelty - especially at this time of year - but it is all backed up by some serious distilling skill. The floral notes of Old Curiosity gins make them stand out in an increasingly crowded market. They also lend themselves well to clever cocktails.

Thanks to The Pop Up Geeks, we enjoyed several different cocktails on the night. For this scribbler, the highlight was the Bee Knees - a refreshing combo made with Lavender & Echinacea gin, lavender-infused honey, a green apple shrub and Pignotello sparkling wine.

One of the reasons for the evening was to celebrate the launch of their seasonal Christmas gin. Flavoured with distilled ginger, cardamom and cinnamon, Hamish made a limited run of 500 bottles.

It proved so popular that they have already sold out of their own online stocks although Harrods and Harvey Nichols stock it.

Gin sampling event

If the thought of Hamish's herbology and floral gins is floating your boat then you may be interested in a gin sampling event being held at The Secret Herb Garden on Friday 14th December.

The idea is to help Old Curiosity Gin work out its next recipe.

Guests will be treated to a selection of sixteen gins, including a range of larger brands, Scottish craft gins and a number of Old Curiosity’s own proposed new tipples.

They will have no idea which is which, but will be asked to choose their favourite which could then become the distillery’s next, bespoke bottling.

Hamish gets to grips with the Christmas spirit.

Hamish gets to grips with the Christmas spirit.

Hamish said: 'With the party season nearly upon us, we wanted to offer a Christmas evening with a difference. And what better way to get into the festive spirit than with a night of sampling all manner of delicious gins?

'We’re currently developing our next recipe and are excited to open this decision up to Edinburgh’s top gin enthusiasts and involve our customers in the creative process. We’re very much looking forward to seeing which recipe will be the favourite!'

The Christmas Tasting Night will take place on Friday 14 December, 7-9pm at The Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh. Tickets are £20pp and available to buy online from the Old Curiosity website.

Explore Scotland by scent

Finally, we are going to stray a little off the beaten track for a food blog and mention Kingdom Scotland, a new fragrance house.

The company was formed by Imogen Russon-Taylor who has drawn on her background in whisky to create a range of unisex fragrances inspired by the geology, landscape and history of Scotland.

Imogen talked us through a range of three fragrances at the Secret Herb Garden event and, if your interest in scent extends beyond nosing gin, then I recommend you have a neb at Imogen's website.