Carnegie Club Blog

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Let the Fun Be Gin…

Posted: 5 July 2019

Over the past few years, the popularity of gin has exploded with a fever not seen since the Gin Craze hit Britain in the early 1700s. The juniper-based spirit that up until recently was better known as ‘Mother’s Ruin’ now graces specialist gin menus in upmarket bars and high-end restaurants across the land.

In the early 1700s a combination of factors led to an incredible demand for gin in Britain: the Anglo-French wars made brandy difficult (and expensive) to get hold of; improving economic prosperity meant that people had a larger disposable income to spend on spirits; and, thanks to the Corn Laws, a pint of gin was cheaper than a pint of beer. It was a recipe for disaster. Dick Whittington may have sought a London where the streets were paved with gold, but in the first half of the 18th century, the capital’s streets were awash with gin. Figures like Daniel Defoe and William Hogarth expressed their horror at the increasing alcoholism and criminality of the city, and calls for action grew louder as the years went on. In response, the government passed a series of acts designed to curb gin consumption: the final and most restrictive was the Gin Act of 1751.

William Hogarth Engraving

William Hogarth (British, 1697-1764). Gin Lane, 1751. Engraving on laid paper, 15 3/8 x 12 3/4 in. (39 x 32.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Samuel E. Haslett, 22.1855

This act was only repealed in 2009, and for the first time in over two centuries stills smaller than 1,800 litres were permitted to operate legally. This change in government legislation meant that independent distillers were able to produce small-batch gins, and as more began operating – and experimenting with flavours – demand grew to match and shows no signs of slowing: figures show that there are now over 300 gin distilleries in the UK.

The increased appetite for gin has also been seen at Skibo and the club has a significant number of gins available to guests in-house as well as a healthy selection of gin-based cocktails on offer. As well as the usual big names like Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray, members can also discover gins from Scotland’s Highlands and Islands, including Shetland Reel, Harris Gin and Caorunn. And as if the wealth of excellent gins was not enough, members can also opt for the club’s house pour: Glasshouse Gin.

clubhouse bar

The Clubhouse bar, where the club's many gins are served.

Glasshouse Gin is made exclusively for the club by Dunnet Bay Distillers (creators of Rock Rose Gin) using botanicals gathered from the Skibo estate. Under the direction of Head Gardener William Moir, the gardening team gather bog myrtle and dandelion while Executive Chef Craig Rowland supplies the honey (which adds a touch of delicious sweetness) gathered from the estate beehives. The club’s Glasshouse Gin has won acclaim not only from members at Skibo: in 2018 it won a silver medal in the Contemporary Style Gin category at the World Gin Awards, as well as bronze for Brand Design and Label Design. 

Should members want to take a taste of Skibo home with them, they can purchase a bottle of the award-winning Glasshouse Gin from the Skibo Shop at the Clubhouse – how long it lasts, however, depends on how strongly the 21st century gin craze has a hold of them… 

Glasshouse Gin is available exclusively at The Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle

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