Happy 1st Birthday to Aberdeen's Distillery

Looking back at 25 Aberdeen Distillery moments...

When taking on any big project, it's always important to take a moment to look back and appreciate what you've managed to achieve.

In celebration of Aberdeen's distillery turning ONE year old, join us as we take a look at 25 things we've managed to achieve in just our first year... and remember, the distillery is run by just two friends who are incredibly proud of their city.

But before we do, we'd like to thank every customer, fan and friend for their support over the past year (and during our setup!).

#1. Designed by us. Built by Aberdeen.

We really had a lot of fun designing Aberdeen's Distillery. It's a rare opportunity to get such an amazing amount of creative control. However, as owners, we knew we had to think carefully about every little detail...the consequences would make us very happy or haunt us for years to come. Thankfully, in Aberdeen, we have some very skilled tradesmen who did an amazing job of putting everything we had designed together. From the walls, to the custom designed light fittings, to the stunning gin making bench.

Our design aim was to transform a cold empty railway arch into an inviting and warm space while retaining all of the industrial character. If you visit, you'll notice the natural colours of wood and green that fit side by side with industrial elements.

We might have designed the distillery, but it was local Aberdeen tradesmen (joiners, electricians, plumbers, welders etc.) who made the distillery a reality.

#2. Launched Aberdeen's 1st ever Gin Distillery and 1st ever Gin School

"City of Aberdeen Distillery is owned and run by two friends, Dan and Alan. The distillery opened its doors in December 2019, proudly reviving Aberdeen’s lost distilling heritage. The last distillery (Strathdee Distillery) closed its doors way back in 1941 – a pause of almost 80 years.

Situated in the heart of the city, within a historic railway arch, visitors can discover the operational distillery, the Aberdeen Gin School and a retail environment offering samples and the ability for visitors to take home a bottle, filled directly from a selection of gin-filled French glass demi-johns.

Dan and Alan, who own and run the distillery, both have years of experience creating drinks having originally met at the University of Aberdeen wine society.

Dan loved to create beers from light hoppy IPAs to full-on chocolate stouts – typically higher in ABV, and in flavour. Whether it’s Amalfi lemons, Seville oranges or Indonesian black pepper, Dan takes the traditional and adds a flare to his beers to ensure every sip is a pleasure, and a memory.

Alan on the other hand, made wine. He grows grapes in Aberdeen to create his own Aberdeen vintage using a blend of Pinot Noir and Merlot grape varieties. Alan has also created a small collection of oaked bramble “ports”, which now stands at 6 years old, and is made with Aberdeen foraged brambles and some secret botanicals to give a voluptuously exquisite drink.

Both with a shared passion for the finest ingredients, they set out to create Aberdeen’s first ever gin distillery."

The distillery is owned and run by two friends. It is an operational distillery and a Gin School but is also open to visitors as a shop.

#3. Representing Aberdeen on the Scottish Gin map

The City of Aberdeen Distillery is a member of The Gin Cooperative - their goal is to promote true Scottish Gin.

As the only business in Aberdeen City eligible to join The Gin Cooperative, we are very proud to represent Scottish Gin in Aberdeen City.

The Gin Cooperative offers downloadable maps of Gin Distilleries in Scotland - take a look at their website to plan your next adventure to Scotland. This map, now including Aberdeen City, was also featured in The Sunday Times.

City of Aberdeen Distillery was proud to feature in The Sunday Times distillery map pull out and represent Aberdeen City alongside other Scottish Gin Distilleries throughout Scotland.

#4. Created a range of true Aberdeen distilled Gins

We're passionate about gin and about flavour experiences. We have a range of both London Dry Gins and Fruit gins. All gins are distilled, bottled and labelled all here in the heart of the city.

The gin produced at the distillery is small batch, full-flavoured, limited edition and Scottish.

If you'd like to try some of our Aberdeen distilled gin - take a look at our online shop or pop into the distillery and discover your ideal gin - ask for a sample.

We've also created a few other gins - keep reading to find out more.

Photo credit: TGC

The distillery uses organic alcohol and imparts a smoother aroma/texture to the gin. Welcome 2021 with an Aberdeen Gin.

#5. The brand design and bottle design won "Best Craft" at The Nods awards

Our brand was created with the help of FortyTwo Studio here in Aberdeen.

In FortyTwo’s words:

"The City of Aberdeen Distillery brand needed to be steeped in civic pride – celebrating the traditions of hand-crafted produce and the stories, told and untold, of the city’s economic and industrial histories. The client wanted to celebrate Aberdeen and also tell the contemporary story of an industrial city on the change.

We based the logotype around the utilitarian typeface Trade Gothic – an easy choice given Aberdeen’s printing and paper manufacturing heritage. This was then hand drawn and optically adjusted to make the type feel more lived in, more hand crafted. The characters were cut from hardwood ply to create CoAD Display. These were letterpressed at Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen on traditional Columbian hand presses and modern flatbed presses onto a myriad of specialist stocks until we finally achieved the desired depth and character we were aiming for."

We were delighted to discover that FortyTwo Studio had been recognised for their work on our branding - even creating our brand font from wood and ink! We know Aberdeen has a lot to offer but we were surprised how much craft experience there is.

#6. Helped frontline NHS GP Surgeries

At the start of the pandemic, hand santisier was like gold dust. Unfortunately, if left the NHS, including GP surgeries, desperately seeking hand santisiser wherever it could be found (though often at sky high prices). The GP Surgeries had to cancel some types of appointments, but other activities such as home visits / essential treatments, such as those for cancer just couldn't stop. Hand sanitiser became essential in order to minimise risk, not only to protect those who were in good health, but to importantly help protect those at greater risk.

Mixing hand santisier was easy right? No, not at all, it took a lot of time and effort to gain the correct permissions to use our duty suspended alcohol for hand sanitiser. The Gin Cooperative created a group of distillers based around the country, we then contributed to this group so all real distilleries could help in the fight against the coronavirus. Something that many overlooked was the requirements of minimum alcohol pricing legislation in Scotland - for us this was an issue as we intended to give it away for free. Eventually we gained the permission we needed!

"We are very proud to be supporting frontline staff and protecting the many people who rely on the GP Practices. In the current environment, hand sanitiser is critical for frontline NHS staff. It doesn’t seem that long ago we reclaimed the city’s lost distilling heritage, being the first distillery in Aberdeen for over 80 years, though we never thought we would be involved in helping the NHS to save lives. We are proud to support Aberdeen. We are proud to support the NHS." -- Head distiller, Alan Milne

Since opening NHS staff have been able to benefit from a 10% discount on bookings i.e. tours, classes and experiences.

We were delighted to provide, completely free of charge, hand santisier to Aberdeen City NHS GP Surgeries to help them protect themselves and the community.

#7. Created Aberdeen's best cocktail gin

The Wandering Gin

Mark Herbert is The Wandering Bartender. He has over 10 years’ experience working on the UK's most prestigious cocktail bars and has a real passion for mixing (and sometimes inventing) cocktails that taste amazing.

The gin itself was designed by Mark at the City of Aberdeen Distillery & Gin School. He knew exactly what he wanted: a gin that is well balanced, full of flavour and essential for anyone serious about making a great tasting cocktail.

His gin is available at the distillery or via our website. Enjoy a cocktail using Mark's gin at the Esslemont in Aberdeen or at the Banchory Lodge Hotel.

The Wandering Gin is based on organic alcohol - it is much smoother and sweeter. The gin uses plump, juicy Junipers handpicked in Macedonia. The citrus elements come from a carefully curated choice of Moroccan Coriander, Kaffir Lime, Orange and zesty Lemon. This is complemented by the summer taste of Elderflower to round out the gin.

Mark has tailor made this gin to work well with the flavours found in cocktails.

Planning to become a cocktail master in 2021? Buy Aberdeen's best cocktail gin today

The Wandering Gin is fully distilled and bottled in small batches in Aberdeen, Scotland to Mark’s exact recipe - so you can be assured you’re supporting local when you buy a bottle.

Photo credit: Christie Johnston Photography

#8. Asked Aberdeen to choose our official gin

We invited Aberdeen and friends of Aberdeen to become a part of Aberdeen's future and vote for the gin they thought should be our official City of Aberdeen Distillery Signature Gin.

As we approach the date of our official release, we'll be announcing the winner of the Taste & Vote.

Your choice. One chance.

#9. Our new bottle won a design award

Our bottle design was created with the help of local design agency FortyTwo Studio based here in Aberdeen.

"To support this bold typeface, we also worked with illustrator Lynn Crawford to create a range of over 30 pen and ink illustrations, each one helping to tell the story of Aberdeen’s maritime and industrial heritage. These include a ship bearing the name ‘Anna’ – a vessel wrecked off the coast – as well as references to historic trades and traditions, including the founding of the first limited company in Britain and the building of famous clipper vessels that helped establish global tea trade. The bottle label also features two leopards – ‘supporting beasts’ which feature on the City of Aberdeen’s coat of arms, adding a very real civic pride to the brand.

A rich and intricate modern tapestry adorns the flagship bottle and extended brand materials, with delicate foiled embossings and tactile paper stocks adding to this authentic brand experience. The bottle and brand has been lauded by the Distillery, competitor brands and officials alike, with this unique brand and bottle really capturing the heart of a city. "

-- FortyTwo Studio

FortyTwo Studio won Silver in the Italian Fedrigoni Global - Top Award

#10. Launched an online version of the gin school

How did we adapt to the pandemic? One of the bigger projects we launched was MakeYourOwnGin.co.uk officially revealed at the virtual Taste of Grampian.

It took some time to create as we took literally thousands of photos from out botanical garden and built the online service ourselves from scratch.

Keep an eye out for our tutored version of the virtual Gin School - coming soon!

#11. Now available in pocket size

Our gins are available in 70cl, 50cl or 20cl - but also in miniatures (5cl) size - that's a double.

All distilled here in Aberdeen City. Buy online or at the distillery.

If you are looking to make a birthday present extra special or add a wee surprise or a thank you gift - the miniatures are a great choice - it's even tissue wrapped and ready to gift.

Miniatures - individually tissue wrapped as the perfect gift.

#12. Launched miniature selection boxes

Holding up to five miniatures, choose your box - we have our set Tasting box, the Fruit Gin Collection box, a mystery box and a Pick and Mix box.

...or choose our "build-a-box" option and customise not only the gins but the colour of tissue wrap.

Take a look at our range of Tasting Packs here

A great way to experience the range of Aberdeen Gins and a perfect gift for any gin connoisseur.

#13. Launched branded tasting boxes

Say a special thank you from your business / group with our branded tasting boxes. Customised at no extra charge (minimum quantity of 10 boxes applies).

The boxes contain 5 miniatures and two drink mats. Take a look at the options here

Show your gratitude with our bespoke branded boxes.

#14. Special Christmas virtual events for local businesses

This year we adapted to the pandemic in another way - we ran virtual Christmas tasting. We spoke to some really nice people and it was a lot of fun. Our mouth was watering when we saw some of those attending enjoying a delicious ByPlatter in front of our eyes!

Photo credit: ByPlatter

Thank you to everyone who attended the virtual events this year!

#15. Collaborated with local businesses

During the pandemic we worked with a number of businesses - becoming stronger together to weather the storm.

We worked with local companies to offer gin alongside their virtual Christmas Wreath making and another local company offering "produced in Aberdeen" Gift Hampers.

We've also collaborated a lot this year with The Wandering Bartender whose gin was shortlisted in the Scottish Gin Awards, who has his gin available in some of the best bars/restaurants in Aberdeen, and who has also run special cocktail evenings along with Christie Johnston Photography to help us create some awe inspiring cocktail photos.

Photo credit: Paper and Petals

Working with other local companies during the pandemic has offered customers new and exciting options while also helping businesses to stay resilient.

#16. Helped shine a light on local businesses

We understand that all businesses are facing a tough time. We wanted to do something to help shine a light on those businesses who are rising to the challenge. We decided to sponsor a category in the Aberdeen Society Awards - namely the Restaurant / Cafe of the year.

The winner of our sponsored category was Eat on the Green - definitely one to add to your post lockdown "to visit" list.

Well done to all those who were shortlisted and congratulations to each of the winners.

#17. Virtual Taste of Grampian

We started our virtual adventures this year with Taste of Grampian which went virtual this year. We offered a virtual tasting of our Scottish Bramble Gin, an introduction the distillery and details of our Taste & Vote pack.

The virtual Taste of Grampian was a great way to experience a range of local produce from the comfort of your own home.

#18. Shortlisted for an award for five of our gins and also in two business categories

We almost fell off our chairs when we saw **FIVE** of our gins were shortlisted for the Scottish Gin Awards. Not only that but we managed to be shortlisted in two business categories.

Chair of the judging panel, Adam Hardie says:

“To make it to the final stage of the Scottish Gin Awards is a huge achievement so congratulations must go to all these businesses who are operating at the top of their game in Scottish gin. For the consumer, this list is important as it is a comprehensive study for any gin fan looking for high quality Scottish products which taste great. They have all achieved the rating of a highly regarded panel of independent experts in gin production from across the UK. We look forward to celebrating the news of the winners when we gather as an industry next week in a digital celebration.”

FIVE of our Aberdeen distilled gins shortlisted!!

#19. Created a gin inspired by a goddess

The Seafield Arms Hotel - Cullen, has had their own custom boutique gin designed by the distillery and is made from sweet and spiced orchard apples before handing over to star anise and the warming notes of cassia. Fragrant black pepper and allspice berries, impact a delightful finish to the gin. The perfect garnish to the gin is a slice of red apple.

Only available to buy at the hotel directly - view their website here

A specially designed gin recipe crafted to celebrate Pomona, the goddess of Fruit and Orchard Trees.

#20. Personalised glassware

The drinking experience is not limited to the contents of the glass but the whole experience and ritual of preparing and enjoying your gin. This starts with your glass.

Many of us have strong feelings when it comes to selecting a glass but if you are spending money on a great gin, you want to make sure the whole experience is just right. From the width of the stem to the thickness of the rim. It all makes a huge different to your drinking enjoyment.

We have selected specific glasses that look the part while maximise your drinking pleasure.

The distillery now offers personalisation of glassware - ideal for gifts, Instagram shots, a personal G&T glass - from unique designs to personalising the glasses with names / messages.

Take a look at our range of personalised glassware

We have a range of glasses that we can personalise with a name or a message.

#21. Created a really local Rhubarb Gin

This year we made a very limited edition Rhubarb Gin - it was made with Rhubarb grown right here in Aberdeen City.

Our Rhubarb Gin recipe was born from the first two recipes we created - Rhubarb #38 (light fruity) and Rhubarb #39 (jammy and complex) - we found the right balance between the two with the help of those that came along to an event at the Banchory Lodge Hotel and listening to customer feedback and tweaked the recipe to find that perfect balance.

Order a bottle of Rhubarb Gin here - choose click and collect or we can post to you UK wide.

Our Rhubarb Gin is made with real Scottish Rhubarb.

#22. Released a Mince Pie Gin

To wish all of our customers and fans a Merry Christmas we released a very limited edition Aberdeen distilled gin....Mince Pie Gin!

It's packed with warm & fruity seasonal spices and is lightly sweetened for an enjoyable festive treat.

You might still be able to grab a bottle or two here

It's a Mince Pie Gin - spicy, fruity, smooth, delicious.

#23. Upgraded your ticket

Our tour vouchers are made to order in-house and hand crafted. It is created as an old-style railway ticket with notches and perforations.

The Tour Vouchers come with a redeemable code to choose a preferred date, expire after 1 year and we've been extending them with any lockdowns.

Book a tour or Buy a voucher

Tour voucher are made to order and hand crafted with notches and perforations - perfect as a gift.

#24. Discovered Aberdeen's heritage and distilling past

We've uncovered a range of historical facts about distilling in Aberdeen and about the area near the distillery. Also, during the tours we tell you about the previous distilleries Aberdeen had and also what used to run in front of the arch entrance.

Aberdeen has a rich distilling heritage and some looting expertise too...

#25. We make Gin...Fresh - we call it Fresh Gin.

Fresh Gin is literally made fresh every few weeks and is made using hand prepared citrus. This is something you can only get from an operational distillery.

Next time you are shopping, try and work out how long the bottle been on the shelf for. Does it have a bottled date?
It could have been on the shelf for over a year! One problem - gin doesn't get better with age, in fact to looses flavour over time. Citrus flavours are the first to go.

Buy it Fresh for the best taste experience.

Buy your gin Fresh. Buy your gin direct from the distillery.

Thank you for all of your support in 2020 and we're excited to see what 2021 brings!

The distillery is open from 12-midday until 5:30pm - open 6 days a week, including all weekend (closed Monday).
Pop in for a sample / buy gin to take home - filled direct from the demi-john.

Book a tour Buy a gift card / tour voucher Buy Aberdeen Gin Selection boxes Personalised Celebration hampers & boxes

Thank you for supporting local.
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