Sip gin surrounded by sprouting botanicals at the Secret Herb Garden

Have you ever wondered what gin is actually made of? The Edinburgh Whisky Academy, in conjunction with the Secret Herb Garden Edinburgh and Old Curiosity Gin, are now offering you the opportunity to meet the botanicals in person. Introducing: The EWA Gin Botanicals Workshop.

Last week we wrote about our experiences at Edinburgh Whisky Academy’s Diploma in Gin. The botanicals workshop was day two of this experience. If you’d like to hear more about day one, click here to read our glowing review of the Diploma in Gin.


Day two: Gin Botanicals Workshop at the Secret Garden

The day started at 9:30am. Participants met at Edinburgh Waverley station and were promptly whisked away to the Secret Herb Garden, which is about a 20 minute drive from the centre of Edinburgh.

On arrival, we were greeted by Hamish Martin – botanicals expert, Herbologist, distiller and owner of the Secret Herb Garden. He lead us through the garden into their specially purposed gin botanicals school and the lesson began.

First of all was the botanicals class. After giving a bit of background on how he became a renowned botanicals expert, Hamish delved right into the plants. Hamish introduced us to twelve botanicals in three forms: fresh, dried and distilled in water. The difference in flavour from each was astounding and stressed the importance of knowing how to extract flavour from botanicals.

Listening to Hamish talk was inspiring. I’ve never met someone with so much knowledge and passion for plants. I genuinely could have listened to him talk for hours if I had been given the opportunity.

Next was a tour of the Secret Herb Garden itself, which was absolutely stunning. From the indoor greenhouse bursting with fresh flowers, to the outdoor fields boasting just about every herb under the sun. The whole experience was like stepping into a fairy-tale.

Old Curiosity Gin Tasting

Finally, we returned to the classroom for a tasting of the Secret Herb Garden’s very own Old Curiosity Gins. Incredibly, old Curiosity is the first gin to be distilled from completely natural ingredients, many of which are grown in the garden itself.

There are three different varieties of Old Curiosity: Apothecary Rose, Lavender & Echinacea and Chamomile & Cornflower. Each is distilled with it’s own combination of fresh flowers from the garden and as a result, three uniquely delicious gins are produced.

Furthermore, Old Curiosity gins change colour when you add tonic. A feature made more magical when you learn that this colour change is a natural property of the flowers contained in each bottle.

The day ended with a freshly prepared lunch from the Secret Herb Garden cafe. I had a panini and homemade tomato & vegetable soup, which was great quality and very tasty.

Overall, whether you’re a gin lover or not, the Edinburgh Whisky Academy’s gin workshop is a day seriously well spent. The whole experience exceeded my (already quite high) expectations and I couldn’t recommend it enough to anyone visiting Edinburgh this summer.

Secret Herb Garden Gin Workshops are bookable through the Edinburgh Whisky Academy.

SEE ALSO: Edinburgh Whisky Academy are now offering a Diploma in Gin!

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