Mastering the Dark Art of distilling in Scotland

The Dark Art Distillery has only been producing gin and open to the public since last July, but already, they’ve picked up a pair of awards.

They claimed Best Newcomer 2021 from the Scottish Gin Awards, and a Gold Award for the ‘Classic G&T’ category from the People’s Choice Spirit Awards 2022, which isn’t bad for a small team of four based in Kirkcudbright, in south west Scotland.

The name ‘Dark Art’ comes from two directions; ‘Dark’ being a link to the accredited Dark Sky park of the nearby Galloway Forest, and ‘Art’ in reference to our home town Kirkcudbright which is known as the Artists’ Town.

Andrew Clark-Hutchison, the owner and founder, said: ‘We’re very happy that we managed to find our home in two former classrooms of a now repurposed primary school which had formerly been closed since 2009.’

The Dark Art Distillery team

The distillery team comprises of Andrew, Fiona Williamson their distiller, Kerry Scott and Kelvin Frew the tour guides and distillery assistants and most recently their distillery dog, Humbug.

With a background in the finance, Andrew needed to hire a distiller for his project and was looking to employ someone at the same time Fiona was nearing the end of her Masters in Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University.

All team members play their part in everything at the distillery; from bottling, to social media, to sales.

Fiona added: ‘You’ll meet us all either in the distillery and shop or out and about at the various markets throughout Dumfries and Galloway most weekends.’

Andrew continued: ‘Our first product, Sky Garden Gin, takes its inspiration from the aforementioned Galloway Forest Park – the 1st dark sky park in the UK.

‘The 300 square miles of rugged beauty with limited light pollution mean than over 7000 stars are visible and night skies have ever-changing ribbons of colour and flickering stars – on essence a sky garden.

The Dark Art team are all hands on in Kirkcudbright

‘The bottle design reflects this with the silhouette of the forest trees, the blue to clear fade above the tree line and the scattering of various constellations which are visible from the area.

‘The gin itself is luxurious, classical and smooth – a light and fresh gin, quite bright with hints of citrus and well balanced with juniper. A delicate floral note with a touch of warming spice and menthol coming through also.

‘The recipe carries on the theme and contains a handful of local botanicals – three of which are grown one mile from the distillery by Mutehill nursery, with their distinct feature being they either bloom at night or release their scent in the evening.’

The distillery is open Wednesday-Sunday from 11am-3pm.

Tours are bookable on the website www.darkartdistillery.com where you can also buy bottles to be delivered anywhere in the UK.