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By Juniper: Is gin taking over as Scotland's national drink?

By Juniper: Is gin taking over as Scotland's national drink?

Scotland is full to the brim of gin lovers: we serve it in teacups, distill it with seaweed and even drink it while sitting in a shed.

Craft gin culture in Scotland is undoubtedly blooming, not only in terms of the number of bars devoted to the juniper drink, but in the number of distilleries popping up across the nation.

In fact, a whopping 70% of all gins produced in the UK now come from Scotland.

That includes recognisable high-end brands like Hendrick's, produced in Girvan, and Pickering's from Edinburgh, to tiny distilleries like Rock Rose Gin from Caithness.

  (5pm)
via STV via STV

Infographic courtesy of 5pm

The figure can mostly be attributed to industry giant Diageo relocating production of Gordon’s and Tanqueray to Fife in 1998, although both these brands are considered London gins.

But there are also a number of smaller craft gin brands from Shetland Reel gin in the remote Shetland Isles to Caorunn gin in the rugged Scottish Highlands, to The Botanist gin from Bruichladdich distillery on the Isle of Islay.

This year even saw the launch of a city centre distillery in Glasgow.

Glasgow’s gin for a treat with launch of city’s first official gin

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Some commentators, such as the owner of one the largest gin collections in Scotland, James Sutherland, have even suggested the drink is overtaking whisky as the country's national drink.

Mr Sutherland, who also owns 56 North Bar & Restaurant in Edinburgh, said: "The beauty of what we've got with Scottish gin is that there's not one style. We don’t produce one flavour, we produce loads.

"The lovely thing about Scottish gins is that I can say, hand on my heart, they are all superb. We are very lucky. We’ve got a rich background of distilling and brewing malt whisky and beer and that experience relates beautifully to our gins.

"Around 70% of all gin made in the UK is made in Scotland so it is a huge industry and we have a hell of a lot to be proud of."

New Glasgow cocktail bar serves up seaweed gin and chilli drams

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So why is Scotland so perfect for making gin?

We might be less than enamoured about it come summer, but our climate is the main reason why craft gin producers are so drawn to Scotland.

The rich natural environment also produces some of the finest ingredients needed for gin production.

For instance, the botanicals used in Rock Rose Gin from Caithness are dependent on climate so will subtly change year on year, and Hop Gin from St Andrews releases seasonal gins based on what botanicals are available from St Andrew’s Botanical Gardens.

So it's not surprising that Scottish gins have picked up an award or two.

Edinburgh Gin takes gold at international awards

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Marketing executive at 5pm Maureen McKendry said: "With an increase in recent years on eating seasonally and with many restaurants keen to emphasise their use of local produce, it makes sense the focus on locality has translated to the drinks industry.

"Scotland is often considered to have the best larder in the world and Scottish craft gin companies have taken advantage of this by foraging for ingredients unique to their local enviroment.

"The rise of craft drink producers proves consumers are looking for authenticity and flavour and they want to know where their drink comes from.

"It makes sense then, that Scottish gins are so popular, and with more launching all the time it wouldn’t surprise us at all if it overtook whisky as Scotland’s national drink."

Scots chicken shed turned gin joint up for 'Shed of the Year'

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First look: Gin bar The Jolly Botanist blows away the cobwebs for launch

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