What were your first impressions?
We arrived at the distillery in glorious sunshine, so everything looked great! It was so sunny. After our welcome and introduction session in the bothy bar, we headed outside to the botanical garden.
What did you learn?
We learned that all of the Scottish botanicals used in Caorunn are foraged within a five-minute walk of the distillery – you can see the heather on the hills from where we were standing. We walked past the whisky (Balmenach) distillery to what was a disused storage warehouse – until they decided to give distilling a try!
Simon, their distiller, is responsible for all aspects of the gin making, including weighing the botanicals, working the pressure chambers, etc.
Caorunn is Gaelic for rowanberry – one of Caorunn’s five Scottish botanicals and the inspiration behind the star shaped bottle and the red star logo.
What was most interesting about the tour?
The guide gives an in-depth explanation of the distillation process, and talks through the 11 botanicals in the gin. Each of the botanicals are stored in jars on a bench so that guests can have a good nosey – we were given a brochure with a chart to mark the nose and taste of each of the botanicals, along with a small glass of straight Caorunn. The idea is to smell the botanical, then smell the gin before deciding how strong the presence of the botanical is, and mark it on the nose chart. You then smell the botanical again, but this time you taste the gin and do the same again with the taste chart. A sealed envelope contains the master distiller’s answers to the nose and taste tests. Very interesting and fun, and can end up quiet competitive!
What did you like most?
Going back to the bothy for a refreshing G&T! There are videos playing with mixologists demonstrating how Carorunn can be used in cocktails – a warming gin toddy was one of them, and it looked delicious! Great for this time of year.
Any hidden treasures?
Yes – Caorunn is trialling products made with the waste botanicals that are left behind after the distillation process. So, they’re currently selling botanical potpourri – the botanicals are dried and popped into a Caorunn bottle, and it smells amazing! Other current trials include two fragrances in small tin candles. At £5 each they’d make lovely gifts.
Rating out of 10?
10 out of 10. The Caorunn tour surpassed expectations and previous experiences of gin tours.