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Review: Rock Rose Winter Edition Gin

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A seasonal classic, Rock Rose Winter Edition Gin will make you want to stay cosy by the fire, glass in hand. 

A Little Bit of Background

Dunnet Bay Distillery, the UK’s most northerly mainland distillery, was established in 2014. The husband and wife team behind it, Martin and Clare Murray, are clearly passionate about the distinct heritage and traditions of Caithness, using locally foraged botanicals not usually seen elsewhere.

Rock Rose Winter Edition is a special bottling based off their signature Rock Rose Gin. Its local provenance is apparent with botanicals like its namesake Rhodiola rosea (meaning a rose on the rocks) which grows on the cliffs of Caithness.

The Bottle

This is Rock Rose’s signature bottle with any icy winter makeover. Its summery blooms have given way to bare branches and dots of snow.

The navy blue wax cap accordingly becomes a wintry dark powder blue. Weighty and substantial, I couldn’t imagine anyone would toss this ceramic bottle. It’s a gorgeous gift and easy on the eyes in any gin collection.

Botanicals

  • Juniper berries
  • Spruce tips
  • Rowan berries
  • Sea buckthorn

Dunnet Bay’s gardener Hanna collected spruce tips for Winter Edition back in last December. The distillery deems it the gin’s “hero botanical.”

The Gin

Nose:

Very juniper forward, the piney notes of the spruce tips and juniper come first on the nose. The piney aromas intermingle with the earthiness of the gin. I gave it another swirl and took in more of the vegetal notes.

Straight:

True to form, Winter Edition is stunningly bare and easy to drink neat. The juniper and piny elements hits you first like a wave. Spruce is definitely present here, intertwined with the dominant juniper.

It recedes to the reveal balancing citrus and herbal flavours.

The pepperiness hits you like a second wave, warming the throat and chest. Bracing on the finish, it’s easy to see why this gin befits bracing winds, negative temperatures and roaring fires.

With Tonic:

Light tonics like Fever-Tree Light Tonic Water and Fentimans Light Tonic Water best suit Rock Rose Winter Edition. The gin is so lean and clean that other tonics would threaten to overshadow its delicate profile. I prefer a G&T easy on the tonic, particularly so for a gin like this.

The Perfect Serve:

Rock Rose recommends serving Winter Edition with toasted sage for warmth and cosiness. It’s an intriguing serve totally befitting the seasonality of the gin. For an easier garnish, try it with a slice of crisp red apple.

We tested it with a lemon twist to accentuate the citrus notes present behind the spruce. Spritz lemon essential oils by gently twisting the peel between your fingers over your glass. Your hands will smell heavenly.