A discreet entrance hides one of the capital’s most intriguing recent openings. It’s Heads & Tales and it’s a gin distillery and cocktail bar. The beautifully atmospheric bar below the Rutland Hotel in Edinburgh’s West End has two custom-made stills – named Flora and Caledonia (pictured) – so you can see Edinburgh Gin being produced while you enjoy it – with perhaps something off the carefully sourced menu which includes Scottish charcuterie, cheese and fish served with freshly prepared breads. Alex Nicol, managing director at Spencerfield Spirit, the company behind Edinburgh Gin, said: “Edinburgh has a special relationship with gin stretching back centuries. More gin is drunk here per head of the population than in any other UK city.”
It’s nice to note there is more to this gin palace than just drinking gin. The distillery has been opened in a unique partnership with Heriot-Watt University. Professor of brewing and distilling Paul Hughes is working with one of his graduates providing research into Scottish botanicals and the history of distilling in Edinburgh, as well as commemorating historic gins and developing new products.
Prof Hughes said: “Edinburgh Gin is bringing distillation back to Edinburgh and we’ve been assisting by ensuring that the new stills produce the same high quality and flavours that existing customers are used to. By selecting smaller stills, the team also has the opportunity to experiment. They’ll be able to recreate gins of days past, as well as coming up with completely original recipes. Edinburgh’s gin heritage has been largely forgotten; hopefully the opening of this centre will introduce more people to this complex spirit and remind people in the capital that gin is the true flavour of Edinburgh.” In the future, customers will be able to take part in the gin making experience, creating their own specific varieties.