Review: Arbikie AK Gin


Earthy, spicy and smooth, AK’s Gin is a real winter warmer of a gin made from wheat and honey farmed at family-owned Arbikie Highland Estate in Angus. Head over to our competitions page until 27th of March for a chance to win a bottle of this tipple.


A little bit of background

Arbikie Highland Estate is a family-owned working farm at Inverkeilor on the east coast of Angus. The Stirling family has been farming there for four generations. AK’s Gin is named after Alexander Kirkwood Stirling (hence AK), the father of brothers Iain, John and David Stirling, the distillery’s founders.

The spirit is created entirely on the estate using Viscount wheat grown in the Deil’s Knapp field. It’s distilled in copper stills and bottled in the distillery. The carefully selected botanicals weaved in give it earthy and spicy hints while local honey adds a sweet, subtle smoothness. AK’s Gin marks the first time Arbikie has used wheat as the base to create gin, having launched Kirsty’s Gin using estate-grown potatoes in 2015. It’s an incredibly smooth gin, lending itself to a great gin and tonic and acting as a fantastic base spirit for cocktails.

Arbikie

The overall impression is of a warm, spicy background with sweet notes of honey and caramel. It’s worth noting that Arbikie netted the prestigious title of Scottish Gin Distillery of the Year in 2017 and then in January 2018, it won the World Martini Championships in London. The combination of Arbikie AK’s Gin, Sea Herbs Vermouth and Smoked Liquid garnished with lemon zest created a unique and innovative twist on the classic Martini that impressed judges.

Botanicals

  • Juniper
  • Black Pepper
  • Mace
  • Cardamom
  • Honey

The bottle

There are no bells and whistles with AK’s Gin – and that’s a good thing. The spirit comes in a classy, clear bottle with a black, white and bronze label lending it an original, down-to-earth, arguably masculine feel. Printed on the reverse of the bottle is an old photograph of AK winning “a prestigious farming award in the 50s”. This gin truly is a tribute to the man himself.

Suggested Serve

The perfect serve for AK’s Gin is a fresh and zesty G n’T. Take a tall glass filled with ice and top with Schweppes tonic. Garnish with a fresh sprig of thyme and orange zest. Lovely.

Nose

Wow! Take off the bottle stopper and you’re met with a gorgeous aroma of honey, butterscotch, vanilla and a slight smokiness of black cardamom. This is a warming, bring-a-smile-to-the-face wonder – a hug in a bottle.

Arbikie

Neat

Sipped neat, AK’s Gin is warming, spicy and sweet, with a delicate smooth finish. Initially, the butterscotch notes kick in and mix with the spicy elements from the mace and black pepper. It rounds off with traces of toffee and honey sweetness.

Served with Tonic

I served AK’s Gin over ice with Fever Tree Premium Indian tonic water and a slice of lime as I wanted to keep things as simple as possible to savour the gin’s true flavour. It didn’t disappoint. This gin is the perfect mix of spicy and sweet – a perfect winter warmer but also, an ideal summer drink if you dunk in some cucumber and orange zest.

Lasting Impressions

I visited Arbikie Farm back in 2014 when the Stirling brothers launched the very first “farm to bottle” distillery in Scotland there. They started off with vodka and have since added gin and whisky to their impressive portfolio. I loved the vodka (I’ve yet to try their whisky) but AK’s Gin has completely won me over. It’s a delicious, smooth, smoky, spicy, sweet, warm spirit which works well both with and without tonic. I’m sure AK would be proud!

If you fancy getting a bottle visit Arbikie’s website where it retails for £35 (70cl, 43% ABV).

Gayle Ritchie

Features Writer at The Courier