With sales of gin fizzing, we take a look at some of these British spirit innovators who are based on the coast and find out how the location shapes their product.

Words Anne-Claire Heels

Unless you never set foot inside a spirits-selling establishment of any kind, you can’t have failed to notice the huge resurgence of gin in recent years. There has been an explosion of small-batch brands onto a market once dominated by the world’s drinks giants – stirring up the category with a range of exciting flavours.

And while many people may long have associated gin with the sea and all things naval thanks to the stalwart that is Plymouth Gin, which has been producing its famous spirit at the city’s Black Friars Distillery since the 1700s, a host of those new distilleries have also sprung up in coastal areas. And they are winning fans the world over, not to mention industry awards for meticulous production, great taste and stylish bottle designs. We thought it high time coast raised a glass to these creative new businesses – here’s to their success.

Jura’s Lussa Gin uses sea lettuce to give a hint of sea spray fragrance and is named after the Old Norse word for flowers. It’s made by diurachs (Jura islanders) Alicia MacInnes, Claire Fletcher and Georgina Kitching, using a Portuguese still named Hamish. The women harvest sea lettuce from their rowing boat Red Rose, and add home-grown rose petals, honeysuckle, lemon thyme and even ground elder to the mix. Lussa Gin (42% ABV), £40/70cl. Buy at lussagin.com
Xavier Baker (MD of Goddard’s Brewery) and Conrad Gauntlett (owner of Rosemary Vineyard) use Boadicea hops, grains of paradise and rock samphire, locally known as Mermaid’s Kiss, to make their Mermaid Gin. The bottles even mimic translucent fish scales and the distillery offers a refill service to islanders who don’t upcycle the lovely bottles into table lamps. Mermaid Gin (42% ABV), £36.70/70cl. Buy at isleofwightdistillery.com.
On Shetland’s most northerly inhabited island, Unst, Frank and Debbie Strang run the UK’s most northerly distillery at Saxa Vord – closer to Norway than mainland Scotland. They make Shetland Reel gin, using locally grown apple mint in the Original Gin and foraged bladderwrack in the Ocean Sent version. Initially a small-batch product only available in Shetland, word spread and it’s now sent all over the world. ‘Our aim was to use local botanicals to create a gin that’s unique and embodies the place where it originates,’ say the Strangs. Original Shetland Reel Gin (43% ABV), £34/70cl. Buy at shetlandreel.com.
Island Gin and the Atlantic Strength variety is made by husband and wife Arthur and Hilary Miller, using Atlantic fennel from Old Town and Porth Minick beaches on St Mary’s. ‘We do everything, from distilling, bottling, labelling to packing, posting and looking after Bishop and Daisy, our two stills,’ says Arthur, formerly of EJ Gallo Winery. The bottle design is a nod to the Bishop Rock Lighthouse – the westernmost point on the Isles of Scilly. Island Gin (44% ABV), £44.45/70cl, Island Gin Atlantic Strength (57% ABV), £52.45/70cl. Buy at scillyspirit.com.
Andy Cowan, the publican of The Ship Inn on Holy Island (Lindisfarne) – known locally as ‘The Tavern’ – built a micro-distillery in his beer garden to make Holy Island Gin, ‘the spirit of high tide’. Says assistant Molly Luke: ‘My great-grandparents, then my grandparents, owned The Ship – formerly The Northumberland Arms – between 1936-1985. I’d never have thought nearly 40 years later I’d be making gin behind the pub!’ Holy Island Gin (44% ABV), £38/70cl. Buy at holyislandgin.co.uk.
Rob Laming and Maria Jones of Llanfairpwll Distillery on Anglesey are the creators of the world’s longest-named gin, Llanfairpwll-gwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllanty-siliogogogoch Gin, made with mint and rosemary from the island. Along with oyster producer and marine biologist Shaun Krijnen of Menai Oysters and Mussels Ltd, they developed Menai Oyster Gin, using oysters to add a creamy, subtle taste of the sea. Llanfairpwll Menai Oyster Gin (40% ABV), £32/50cl. Buy at llanfairpwlldistillery.co.uk.

Adnams of Southwold is well known as an award-winning brewer, but it’s making a name for itself as an award-winning distiller too. Producing spirits in its Suffolk base since 2010, its Copper House Dry Gin is a classic ‘juniper’ gin, with hibiscus flower adding extra interest to the flavour profile. Best for martini lovers – but it works well in a Tom Collins too (£26.99/70cl, adnams.co.uk)

Multi award-winning Rock Rose hails from Scotland’s Dunnet Bay. Seabuckthorn and rose root help to flavour this prized spirit, and each bottle is filled, hand-waxed, batch-numbered and signed at the distillery. Best for creating a wonderful G&T. Founders Claire and Martin Murray mix it with Fever Tree tonic, using orange zest and rosemary as garnish (£34/70cl, dunnetbaydistillers.co.uk)

Dingle Distillery is located on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, and this spirit is no less impressive, as a growing number of taste awards will testify. A traditional dry gin, its botanicals are chosen to reflect the Kerry landscape and include rowan berries, bog myrtle and heather. The recommended serve is with large cubes of ice, a wedge of fresh orange, and juniper berries. (€36/70cl, dingledistillery.ie)

Fishers Gin is the brainchild of a master distiller and an Oxford University botanist, with the aim of reviving the wild and forgotten flavours of the English coastline. The starting point is barley from East Anglia, and among those foraged botanicals are wood aven and rock samphire – this is a gin rooted in the sea if you will. Create interesting cocktails – there are lots of recipes inspired by seafaring on its website (£39.95/50cl, fishersgin.com)

‘When it comes to our handmade spirits, expect the unfamiliar,’ promises the bold team behind this Sunderland-based, prize-winning product. Juniper, green cardamom, pepper and Persian lime make for a floral but spicy gin that will stand out in classic cocktails – try it in a Negroni. It's for wild spirits who like to buck the trend (£34.95/70cl, poeticlicensedistillery.com)

What makes Isle of Harris Gin so distinctive is the inclusion of hand-harvested sugar kelp from the sea among its botanicals – for a true taste of the ocean this is the gin for you – and the beautiful bottle is surely destined to become a design classic. It has a unique taste – team it with Walter Gregor’s Scottish Tonic Water (long) or with a few drops of Isle of Harris sugar kelp aromatic water (short) (£37/70cl, harrisdistillery.com)

From the Three Fingers Distillery in Guernsey, Blue Bottle Dry Gin is all about attention to detail. Expect a hand-crafted spirit with local gorse flowers and Indonesian cubeb pepper among its premium botanicals, in a distinctive heavy glass bottle with a detailed drawing of its surprisingly beautiful namesake. It has a sophisticated flavour that’s bold and unusual (£41.99/70cl, bluebottlegin.gg)

Pure water from Dartmoor is used in production, and citrus fruits feature strongly in the botanicals, in a nod to the famous Salcombe Fruiters ships that imported such cargo traditionally. The distiller also has a gin school where you can learn to make it yourself. Even better, the yacht delivery service will bring a Salcombe Gin hamper directly to your vessel (£37.50/70cl, salcombegin.com)

Read next Make Your Own Gin at this Devon Gin School

Family-owned Southwestern Distillery produces Tarquin’s Dry Gin in small batches in Cornwall – it won Gold at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2016. Devon violets are the unexpected botanical here, adding a unique freshness to the taste. Best used in The Cornish Martini, which is 5 parts Tarquin’s Gin, 1 part dry vermouth and a drop of Tarquin’s Cornish Pastis (£32.50/70cl, southwesterndistillery.com)

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