Eden Mill: what happens when gin meets wine?

Eden Mill distillery has aged its latest gins in red wine and white wine casks, as Peter Ranscombe discovers.

MAKING gin is – relatively – easy.

As long as your spirit tastes of juniper then it’s job done, as far as the labelling gods are concerned.

But making your gin stand out from the ever-growing crowd is much harder.

Some distilleries carve out their niches by using weird and wonderful botanicals.

From chillies to sea kelp, if you can imagine an ingredient then chances are there’s a gin that uses it as a botanical.

Eden Mill distillery is exploring a different route.

Although the company – which is preparing to move into its third premises at Guardbridge, near St Andrews, in Fife – has enjoyed success with its hopped gin, gin liqueurs, and ready-mixed cocktails, it’s perhaps best known for its cask experiments.

It’s oak gin is a fixture in its core range and, back in February, it released an old tom gin aged in oak.

Two new friends joined old tom today – gins aged in red wine and white wine casks.

From Burgundy to Valpolicella

The white wine gin spent time in former chardonnay casks from Burgundy.

On the nose, the Eden Mill White Wine Cask-Aged Gin (£40, Eden Mill) retains that all-important juniper aroma, with some black pepper heat too.

I found it hard to pick out any extra citrus aromas above and beyond what I’d usually expect to find in the distillery’s gin, but there are definitely peach notes and the merest whisper of vanilla from the 15 months in the wine casks.

On the palate, it all comes together beautifully, with roundness from the subtle vanilla, beefier tinned peach flavours, and more intense lemon and lime flavours.

Amarone, the full-bodied Italian wine made using partially-dried grapes in Valpolicella, underpinned the Eden Mill Red Wine Cask-Aged Gin (£40, Eden Mill).

The juniper and pine notes leap from the glass, with a whiff of wood smoke and subtler black fruit aromas playing second fiddle despite 500 days in oak.

Those dark fruit flavours become far more assertive on the palate, with black cherry, blackberry jam, and vanilla taking the lead.

That makes for a really interesting mix – all gin’s citrus character is still there, but it’s enhanced by the wine’s influence.

The white edged it for me – but both are welcome additions to Scotland’s thriving gin scene.

Read more of Peter’s gin, whisky, wine, and beer reviews in his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain.