Scottish Gin

Click on the image below to load the full itinerary:

Scottish Island Gin Holiday
A stunning ten night Scottish islands gin holiday itinerary around some of Scotland’s less visited islands, including seven fabulous local gins!

This Scottish islands gin holiday showcases some of Scotland’s less visited locations. These islands have a powerful charm to instantly possess their visitors.  Like a fickle reality-show contestant, some give you their stormy side for days at a time, but when their sun comes out, their beauty is dazzling. You fall deeply in love, and you know it’s gonna last a lifetime!

There are 700 or so to choose from, but just 89 with people thrown in.  The remainder have other amazing residents though.  Some permanent, some just passing through.  These islands were formed from ancient rocks, in places over a billion years old, others from volcanoes. Explore high mountain contours and low-lying sandy grasslands, there really is somewhere for everyone.  Through history they’ve been woo’ed by Celts and Vikings, echoed in the place names and the surviving castles. Much evidence of some turbulent past relationships.

These days a more sociable culture has arrived on these gorgeous shores: The Gin Makers.  And so, while you don’t need any better reasons to introduce yourself than the islands themselves, you now have the spirit to turn your day dreams into reality, and start seriously loving these islands!

Click on the image above for the full Scottish islands gin holiday itinerary.

Click on the Bridge image to view the full 3 night itinerary with 7 local gins to explore in beautiful Moray Speyside.

Short version 3 night itinerary Moray Speyside

To enter our Father’s Day Photo competition all you need to do is share a favourite photo of you and your dad, a memory that you have shared together, something you have learnt from your dad, a special place in Scotland you both enjoy or a photo that just makes you smile. Share it on Facebook and Instagram in a post using the hashtag #BestDadGINTheWorld.

Competition Rules

Ginspired Scotland competitions are in no way sponsored, endorsed, associated with or administered by Instagram or Facebook.

Competitions are only open to UK residents aged over 18 years (legal drinking age)

This competition ends on Sunday 20th June 2021.

Winning entries will be selected on Wednesday 23rd June 2021. Winners will be notified by message then announced on our social media platforms.

Remember to use the hashtag #BestDadGINTheWorld with your photo entry

GOOD LUCK!

If you love touring on two wheels, make cycle-friendly Scotland your place for a Ginspired escape. Whether you are after easy going, family friendly trails, a bike-packing adventure, an adrenaline fuelled off-road mountain bike day in the hills or a tour in our cycle-friendly cities, come rain or shine Scotland has some truly Ginspired day trips for cycling.

FROG

After several hours in the saddle, what better way to chill out after a day of physical challenge than with a refreshing Scottish Gin and Tonic? Whilst cycling and drinking gin at the same time is obviously completely illegal, Ginspired Scotland will show you the best places to sit back, relax and reward the efforts of your day with local food, authentic experiences and artisanal Scottish Gin.


1. GLASGOW

NEXT BIKE LOGO

With segregated cycle lanes and links to wider cycle networks, Glasgow is leading the way in becoming a haven for urban cyclists.  Like most major cities, Glasgow is home to NextBike! where you can rent an e-Bike or standard bike and explore this amazing city on two wheels. Simply download the app, register and you are good to go!

Culture vultures can ride through Glasgow following the sensational Glasgow Mural Trail where you can take in works of art, culture, heritage and humour. The great news is that the Glasgow Mural Trail passes by Glasgow finest restaurants, bars and Scottish Gin distilleries. Refuel and relax at Sauchiehall Street’s Gin 71 for gin tasting or BeGin in the West End. Detour to the Barras Art and Design Centre where you’ll find a warm welcome from Crossbill Gin Distillers.

The Seven Lochs and Clyde Loop combines the new Seven Lochs trail with a lovely cycle along the river Clyde. Nature lovers will enjoy a visit to Scotland’s largest urban nature park at Seven Lochs Wetlands. This largely traffic free route ends at the buzzing West End of Glasgow where you can eat, drink and relax in some of Glasgow’s best restaurants. Our Ginspired post-cycling eating recommendations include Sloans for indoor and outdoor dining and The Spiritualist Bar and Restaurant, the Makar Gin distillery is nearby.

For a real mountain bike experience in the heart of the city, head to Pollok Country Park on the south side of Glasgow. With trails to suit all levels of ability, Pollok Country Park offers a gentle ride in the woods, or steeper terrain with varied surfaces and constructed obstacles. For a post adrenalin-rush Ginspired treat, try The Allison Arms, Curious Liquids, or savour Illicit Gin wherever you can find it.

Tour around Glasgow or bike pack out of Glasgow – whichever you decide be sure to capture the true spirit of the people of Glasgow and end your day in the saddle with a deliciously refreshing local gin.


2. EDINBURGH

Travelling around Edinburgh by bike is a perfect way to immerse yourself in this beautiful and historic city. Bike hire is available at JustEatCycles, Bike Trax, Pedal Forth or be guided around the city with Edinburgh Bike Tours or Baja Bikes.

At the foot of the Royal Mile is Holyrood Park which offers spectacular cityscape views and a well surfaced road for cyclists. Scottish Gin Distillery tours near to Holyrood Park include Holyrood Gin, South Loch Gin, and Pickerings Gin. In addition, there are plenty of stops along the way including five star visitor attraction Dynamic Earth. You can also see The Scottish Parliament building and national monument of Scotland at Calton Hill, or cycle to visit Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

A bike ride to South Queensferry from Edinburgh along section 7 of The John Muir Way reveals superb views of all three of Scotland’s Forth bridges.  Or in reverse, from South Queensferry, end up at Arthurs Seat for an end of cycle climb and spectacular views across the city.

You will be spoilt for choice for places to eat and drink but our top tips include refuelling at Heads and Tails, One Square and 56º North.


3. FORT WILLIAM

Experience Scotland’s finest scenery and a backdrop of Ben Nevis, Fort William is the perfect escape for those wanting to adventure on two wheels. Bike hire is available at Off Beat Bikes in Fort William and there are lots of great biking routes in and around the town. The Great Glen Cycle Way is a stunning trail that follows the Caledonian Canal and the shores of Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness with the mountains of the Ben Nevis range ever present. Take a bike packing adventure over few days and journey along The West Highland 150. 150 miles of stunning scenery with plenty of accommodation stops along the way. Try the Loch Leven Hotel, The Moorings or Clachaig Inn. Celebrate your challenges with local Scottish Gin such as Pixel Spirits, or Aonach Mor Gin.


4. GLENLIVET

Escape to the Cairngorm National Park where the Glenlivet Estate is a truly beautiful and less discovered area of Scotland.The perfect place to hit the hills and go mountain biking. Bike hire is available on-site at BikeGlenlivet. There are three trails for cross country riding with a route to suit all abilities. The scenery is astounding and the locally produced Scottish Gins are a treat. Try a Caorunn Gin or Eight Lands with premium tonic and enjoy the view. Definitively a Ginspired day trip for the cycling enthusiast.


5. SPEYSIDE

The Moray Monster Trails at Fochabers is a great family friendly mountain biking day out with trails across forestry land and views across the Moray Firth. For non-riders there is plenty to do locally too. Visit Gordon Castle Walled Garden and Cafe and don’t forget to purchase their delicious and award winning Gordon Castle Gin. Avva Gin, El:Gin, Roehill Springs Gin and MacGin are all locally produced and add a hint of local flavour after a long day in the hills. Who said Speyside was all about whisky?


6. AVIEMORE

Mountain biking is very much en vogue in Aviemore.  Not surprising as the trails are endless and every possible level of talent and fitness can be accommodated. Hire a bike locally at Bothy Bikes, In Your Element or Aviemore Bikes.  At the end of your Cairngorm adventure, why not refresh your senses with a Cairngorm Gin?  It’s produced within the National Park and one of it’s key botanicals is pine needles!  It’s delicious and available online as well as from the Rothiemurchus Shop at Inverdruie. Kinrara Gin, Byrons Gin, Daffy’s Gin, Duncan’s Gin and Inshriach Gin are all local and widely available. Eating out is easy in Aviemore, try the Winking Owl, The Old Bridge Inn or The Cairngorm Hotel.


7. DUNDEE

Dundee has lots of green spaces to enjoy, including Camperdown Country Park, Dundee Botanic Garden, and Slessor Park in the heart of the city centre. Mountain bikers can head to the all new Templeton Tangle to learn skills and develop confidence. The Green Circular is a 26-mile leisure cycle and walking route that circumnavigates Dundee. It passes by Dundee’s major visitor attractions, the V&A, Discovery Point and Camperdown Wildlife Centre.

Complete the day by sipping a relaxing local gin. Try award winning Verdant Dry Gin, or The Dundee Gin Co’s Dundee Cake Gin Liqueur, Marmalade Gin Liqueur or their Classic Dry Gin. Crag & Tail small batch Scottish Gin or Tayport Distillery’s Wild Rose Gin are also delicious and refreshing.

Our top tips for eating out in Dundee include Gallery 48, The Bruach Bar in nearby Broughty Ferry or Duke’s Corner is where to head for cocktails, local gins, craft beers and good food.


Ginspired Scotland Logo

Keep up-to-date with all things Scottish Gin & Tourism by signing up to our Newsletter

New Normal Road sign

As we socially distance ourselves from lockdown, contemplating the return to normality can be quite daunting. Will we remember that we now have to dress our lower halves as well? Will we brush/comb/polish the back of our hair styles, as well as the sections visible on Zoom? Can we still use the slowness of our broadband as an excuse for that ‘missed’ action point? But more fundamentally, will our brains cope with the combination of work, commuting, socialising and home/family life, without exploding? i.e. we might be beating Covid, but will we survive getting back to normal?

If you’re not sure, perhaps a bit of brain training is what’s required. Take your brain back to school. But no, I’m not that cruel, I’m sending you and your brain to GIN SCHOOL!!
Some of your favourite gin producers have been quick off the mark to kindly bring this vital therapeutic
opportunity to you, no matter where in Scotland you find yourself facing being normal:-

Scottish Gin Schools.

Crossbill Gin re-opens their gin school in late May. Their educational experience is a few hours (usually 3)
spent at the distillery in Glasgow learning about how gin is made and the botanicals involved. This
includes some tutored nosing and tasting with an expert. You’ll then go on to select your preferred
botanicals and create your own gin to take away with you. The price is currently £125 per person. Please
always book ahead.
That’s getting back to normal.

Isle of Skye Distillery, home of Misty Isle and Tommy’s Gin, re-opens on Wednesdays and Fridays from 2-
5pm, led by Master Distiller Alistair. The three hour sensory experience includes gin tastings, the history of gin and the story of The Isle of Skye Distillery. Plus the chance to create your own bottle of gin by expertly selecting the botanicals under Alistair’s guidance, running your own pot still, then bottling and labelling too. You can share a still between two of you, or keep it all to yourself (no one’s judging!) The price is £85 per still either way. Please always book in advance. This is going to be very popular. That’s normal too.

The City of Aberdeen Distillery. Dan and Alan plan to re-open in late May. Their Gin School is a great
place to meet gin minded people from across the region. They work with up to 20 aspiring gin makers at a time and offer a comprehensive session covering the history of distilling in Aberdeen, a G&T on arrival, various samples to inform your choices, and your own design of bottle filled with gin. Celebrate becoming a distiller with a cocktail afterwards – what more could you and your normal brain wish for?

Ballachulish’s Pixel Spirits hold their gin school at North Ballachulish, at the foot of Glen Coe. The local
landscape is a treat for the senses in itself, but add in gin to the mix, and your wellbeing rating will soar like a local eagle. The Gin School here is up and running, and a three hour gin making experience, complete with recipe development time, distilling an uber small batch gin, and taking home a full sized bottle of your bespoke creation, comes in at £89 per person. There’s a G&T or two also included in case you’re thirsty.

Loch Leven Hotel

Uniquely, Pixel also offers a rum school. It’s a similar set up, but making rum is a very different process to
gin, so it’s a whole new set of neural pathways for your brain to develop! Hard to miss that Pixel is located
in the grounds of the Loch Leven Hotel, so why not book in for a couple of nights and cover both bases?
Two wonderful spirits in two wonderful days. That’s truly being kind to yourself and your grey matter. That should be normal.


Lost Loch Distillery, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire is re-opening once restrictions allow. Luckily their airy and
spacious gin school lets everyone discover all about gin or other botanical spirits (the choice is yours) with lots of space around them. Spend the day learning about how botanical spirits are created and work
alongside the experts to design your own unique expression, and take it home with you at the end of the
day! At present, you might be best to buy a voucher, which at £115 is a promise of an extremely
educational and therapeutic day to come. Go on, your brain (and taste buds) will thank you for it. They
normally do.


Kirkwall’s Kirkjuvagr Distillery is re-opening for tours very soon, and looks forward to welcoming you back
to take part in their Gin Making sessions. This immersion in all things gin can be for 1, 2 or 3 people
sharing one mini-still. The price ranges from £125 for one person, £175 for two and £225 for three people
working together at this harbour front distillery. It’s a five hour experience and must be booked in advance of course, subject to Covid restrictions. But that’s completely normal.

Crafty Distillery is home to Hills and Harbours Gin, Newton Stewart. It re-opens on Friday April 30 th for
their informative tours, which include a perfect serve of the base spirit, a cocktail and a Hills and Harbour
Gin & Tonic for £20, or a non-drinking driver tour for £10. Their highly regarded full day spent with the
Master Distiller which includes foraging for botanicals and learning the art of distilling, will begin once
Covid restrictions allow. If you can’t wait, call the team and it may be possible to set something up if you
use your own transport. New normal.

So Are You Ready?


So, as normal, Ginspired has come up with the perfect guide to enhancing your wellbeing as we adjust to getting back to normal. If you, or someone you know, has a brain that would benefit from attending school (and who hasn’t?), book them in. You’re bound to find that their whole demeanour is improved immeasurably, when thoroughly immersed in Scottish Gin, (completely normal).

So click through the links (as normal) and book yourself on!


You’re welcome. (That’s normal too.)

We are all revelling in the delight of travel restrictions being eased around Scotland. So for us, first stop, Cairngorms National Park!

The Cairngorms National Park takes a leading role in many wildlife and adventure stories.  It’s no co-incidence that Chris Packham and co are regularly spotted filming Springwatch and its seasonal counterparts here, as it boasts the full set of Scotland’s wildlife heroes, and a spectacular backdrop for every vibrant scene.

Getting Here

Easy to find – the heart of the Highlands

Aviemore is accessible by car (A9). Approx 40 mins from Inverness and 1hr 40mins from Perth, it is perfect to get there and back in the same day, and still have ample time for exploring.

Join us as we take our #GinspiredDayTrip around Aviemore.

Loch Morlich

Head a few miles up the ‘ski road’ to the stunning Loch Morlich.  Fed by snow melt from high up on the sub-arctic tundra of the Cairngorm Plateau, the water here never feels anything less than baltic. However the local ducks will welcome you warmly, especially if you’ve brought some peas, sweetcorn, or porridge oats (never bread), to reward their attentions.  A small parking fee will allow you to spend a while here. Paddling (for the brave), picnicking, watching the sailing boats and enjoying the views of the mountains behind.

Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre

Nearby Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre is a must during your day out. The Farm shop is open, and always worth a visit. Why not order a pre-packed meal kit for when you return home. A hamper or afternoon tea box and team it up with one (or two) of the local gins, for the ultimate ‘Luxury Lazy day by the Loch’. Here you can refresh yourselves with coffee and cakes from ‘The Barn’ which is open for takeaway only.  If budgets and time allow, book clay pigeon shooting, quad trekking, hairy coo safaris, pony trekking or the ever popular Treezone.  If not, a map of the estate and it’s many trails and paths is a great investment. 

Some of the Activities available at the Cairngorm National Park

Ariel View of Loch Eilein, Cairngorm National Park

One of our favourites is the lovely path around Loch an Eilein.  It’s £4.50 to park a car, but that does give access to toilets and a small visitor centre telling more about the local area. Please check before you travel to see if these facilities are open at this time.  The walk encircles the loch which is home to a small medieval castle on a rocky island.  Strolling through ancient pine forests, this walk is as good in winter as in summer.  Red squirrels are evident, if you don’t see them in person, you’ll see the pine cones they’ve stripped littering the forest floor.  Look out too for wood ant nests, which form huge piles of pine needles among the heather and other woodland shrubs.  Interesting mosses, ferns and pine bark textures in among towering trees, some several hundred years old.  It’s both atmospheric and somehow inspiring. 

Bike Your Way Around the National Park

Mountain biking is very much in vogue in the Cairngorm National Park..  Bike and eBike hire is a great way to get around for the energetic. The trails are endless if you wish, shorter if required. But every possible level of talent and fitness can be accommodated. Hire a bike locally if you can’t bring your own.   Wear a helmet though – those ancient pine trees can be hard!  Segway taster sessions, fishing for beginners and children at the well stocked lochs are also available for pre-booking. Fun for all the family.

A little further toward the ski slopes is Glenmore. Here you can park and take the wide path up towards the Ryvoan Pass and the beautiful Lochan Uaine, or the Green Loch.  It is said the colour comes from the fairies laundering their clothes here, and who knows, it may be true.  It’s far enough to know you’ve stretched your legs, but not so far as to put your kids off hillwalking. So, enjoy the scenery and that feeling that you are properly ‘in the hills’, there is no feeling quite like it.

Heading south, the Inshriach Forest is home to the fascinating Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail. Following a short stroll alongside the River Feshie, it is a low level walk for all abilities. Enjoy the added interest of the works of art along the way. 

The Highland Wildlife Park isn’t free to visit, those polar bears are hungry and expensive to keep, but on a ‘pounds per hour’ rating, we think it does rather well.  There aren’t too many places where polar bears, amur tigers, wildcats and snow leopards can be seen, as well as a host of other wonderful animals, many of whom live, or once lived within the National Park.  We highly recommend it, and you can no pre-book your tickets online.

Just a little further south, bordering the RSPB reserve of the Insh Marshes is Ruthven Barracks.  High on a hump above the floodplain, this fortified spot has been a Castle from medieval times as home to the Comyn and Gordon families. Rebuilt as a barracks by King George II in 1719,  as a defence against the Jacobites after the 1715 uprising. It’s free to visit, and full of atmosphere. 

One of the area’s biggest bargains is the Highland Folk Museum at nearby Kingussie.  However, not re-opening until the beginning of May 2021, it boasts free admission and free carparking giving access to a fabulous array of historical exhibits, showing how life was in days gone by.  If history’s not your thing, it was also used as a location in the Outlander series, so channel your inner Jamie or Claire, and enjoy some time here.  There’s plenty of shelter too if the weather’s not on your side, so dinnae fash yersel.

Travel Kindly, and Scotland will be Kind to You.

Travel Kindly infographic

We hope we’ve ginspired you to spend your new found travel freedom in the beautiful Aviemore and the Cairngorm National Park.  Even on a wee budget there’s loads to see and do, and some wonderful local gins to buy in the local shops.

Travel Kindly. Be kind to Scotland and you and everyone else will reap the benefits.

More Ginspired Day Trip Itineraries

Feel free to choose some of the other Day Trip Itineraries that we have created in the #ginspireddaytrips series. Adapt them to suit your needs, where you want to go and who is travelling you. They are completely FREE to use as is the Gincyclopedia, so get started and plan your 2nd, 3rd and 4th stop!

Do let us know what you enjoyed the most, what you’d recommend to others, and if you have some secret discoveries to share with us. 

Have a great #ginspireddaytrip!

Keep up-to-date with all things Scottish Gin & Tourism by signing up to our Newsletter

Want to find your way to kinder, more sustainable holidays in Scotland? Ginspired Scotland’s Travel Kindly campaign has loads of ideas to help you! We’re signposting the most environmentally sound ways to enjoy Scottish Gin as part of your next day trip, short break, or full scale holiday, in the world’s most beautiful country.

Be Kind to yourself, and to Scotland.

Icon for Ginspired Travel Kindly

After all, travelling kindly is not just about burning less fossil fuel, or ensuring you recycle what you can, it goes much deeper than that these days.  Travel Kindly means you can take sustainable holidays in Scotland and directs you to a whole range of ways to make your impact on our planet just that little bit sweeter. Like all great cocktails, it’s the small things added together that make fabulous results!

Think about supporting local businesses.  It’s a great way of meeting new people, finding food and drink you may never have tried before, and getting hints and tips to serve them in the tastiest ways.  Some of Scotland’s wonderful gins are not (yet) internationally known, and you mightn’t have encountered them close to your home, so take advantage of being in the worlds best known distilling nation, and make sure you sample them on their own territory,  Maybe take a bottle or two home with you. Check out on-line sales here.

Sustainable Holidays = Slowing Down…

Don’t rush off!  Although it’s tempting to travel quickly across our stunning land, it’s so much kinder to everyone to slow down. Breathe the wonderful fresh air, absorb those views, the atmosphere, the silence (or the buzz). Take time to watch for eagles, spot a whale, spy a distant red deer stag, or just watch the waves on the sea or the ripples on a crystal clear Highland loch. 

Spend time out of doors at night.  In the summer it barely gets dark, so don’t imagine the fun needs to stop because the clock says it should!  West coast sunsets are legendary, and the sunrises fight hard for the best Insta shot prize.  Winter brings the Northern Lights’ eerie glow.  An epic light show you’ll never forget.  But you’ll miss all of this if you’re too busy heading off.  Stay a while.  Be still.  Relax. After all Scotland in her majesty will be here when you come back, which you will!

Sustainable Holidays = Using Public Transport To Travel Kindly in Scotland

https://www.travelinescotland.com/

Use public transport.  It may not be the highlight of your everyday life, but getting about with the locals when you’re on holiday gives you a chance to really see the countryside or cityscape around you.  It’s much kinder to the planet of course, but it also allows you to mix with folk, strike up a conversation (we’re a friendly lot), ask your questions, find out what’s going on.  (I once got invited to an amazing ceilidh in a tiny village hall in the Highlands, simply by asking directions!  I’ve never danced so much or with so much energy.  It was the best work out ever!)  Check out the Gincyclopedia for bus and train stations in your holiday location.

‘Take only memories and leave only footprints’

The saying goes, ‘Take only memories and leave only footprints.’  Absolutely right of course, but I’m sure you’re not the litter-leaving type.  After all, why come to a stunning country, known all over the world for it’s pristine wild landscapes and clean pure air, and then polute it!  It also applies to less obvious things though, and in essence means ‘leave it as you found it’. So while it may be tempting to make stone towers on pebbly beaches as others have done, please don’t.  They topple on sea birds and other creatures (and children), and remove protection from the sand and small plants which are then blown around by the wind or dislodged by high tides. 

You’re basically changing the habitat, and without realising, you may be causing damage.  Close gates behind you if that’s the way you found them, or open, if that was. Don’t take flowers, take photos instead.  They’ll last a lot longer and stay beautiful for ever.

Shop locally.  And I don’t just mean for gin and other local specialities.  Give the supermarkets a body-swerve for a little while. Spend your money at the shops you discover on your route.  It might cost a little more, but consider how much your custom is valued by these smaller businesses which can be such a vital part of the fragile rural economy.  You’ll rediscover the joys of personal service, a friendly chat, maybe even a hand to carry it to your vehicle.  Many also stock locally produced meat, fish, vegetables, and crafts too – not to be missed!

Sustainable Holidays = Finding Your Perfect Piece of Paradise

Take the road less travelled.  So many people think they’ve ‘done Scotland’ if they’ve visited Edinburgh/Loch Ness/The Isle of Skye, but there is SO MUCH MORE!  That’s not to say you should skip those places, they do have a lot to offer, but they also see a lot of visitors.  So why not find your own perfect piece of paradise by discovering a different island (we’ve over 700 to choose from), another historic city (we have 5 main cities plus a Royal Burgh and a Kingdom too), and finding a fresh loch to dabble your toes in will not be a problem.  Consider going to a part of Scotland you hadn’t known about.  See our G&iTineraries and Day Trips for Ginspiration.

You’ll take home new stories to share with friends, and discover a hundred things you didn’t know before.  Spreading our visitors around helps everyone.  You get the peace and space you’re looking for. The local businesses appreciate your custom, and the roads and other facilities are not overwhelmed by crowds of folk arriving all at once.

So, be kind to yourself, and to Scotland,  Travel kindly. Take more sustainable holidays in Scotland, and you’ll find Scotland smiles right back at you!

To keep up-to-date with all things Scottish Gin & Tourism sign up to our eNewsletter.

Holiday words

Ever spent a holiday in a strange bed longing for the familiar pillows of home?  Been hunched under a dribbly, cramped shower and yearned for the stretch space and drench power of your own?   Do you eat up the last few days of your hard-earned break planning how the next few months are going to shape up? You’re not alone.

Going away often means compromises.  A famous hotelier once said that his rooms had to offer a better experience than his guests had at home, otherwise they wouldn’t come!  Obvious I guess, but at several hundreds of pounds per night, expectations would be high, wouldn’t they?  Most of us don’t have that level of spending power, but apparently money’s not the only thing to influence our choice of holiday.  So, what else is at play here?

Sunglasses

Perhaps you stick to a well-loved caravan park or familiar campsite? Do you prefer a roving road trip, ticking off the stops via your Instagram feed, or maybe it’s an all-inclusive with no decisions to be made as everything’s laid on for you? Is it opulent luxury or value for money that excites you most?  And how do you decide?  What are you looking for?  A great tan? Rejuvenation of your body, your mind, your relationship perhaps? New experiences you couldn’t get at home? Bragging rights (ouch!)? or that feeling that you’ve worked hard all year so you deserve it?  Nothing wrong with any of those.  Even bragging rights.  After all we’re human, and competition is an integral part of our psyche (check out Mr C Darwin if you don’t agree).

Beach & deck chairs

In an attempt to be ever-so-slightly scientific, I researched current thinking into the motivations that drive us.  It seems there are around seven of them, as follows:

  • Basic needs:  We prioritise food, water, air, shelter (gin??) 
  • Self-Actualisation: Making the most of a talent – singers, actors, athletes, footballers et al
  • Protection and Safety: Shelter, health, money to buy what we need, access to services & ‘stuff’
  • Love & belonging: Forming relationships and supportive social communities
  • Status & Esteem: Respect, including self-respect, sense of own worth, status and value
  • Mate acquisition: It’s a basic need driven by the need to get our genes passed onward
  • Mate retention: Harder still.  Raising healthy offspring to adulthood (see genes)

I recall Club 18-30 holidays.  I never went on one (far too young), but was brave enough to watch those late-night documentaries.  To be fair, I think the more recent booze-soaked scene full of first-time-without-mum-and-dad holidaymakers, probably beats Club 18-30 pants down (sic), but at the time, it was for those who partied hard, in every sense.  However, doesn’t it fit exactly into the ‘Mate Acquisition’ motivation?  Isn’t it the holiday equivalent of Blind Date but without Cilla, and with loads of alcohol, sunshine and a X Certificate thrown in?  Not hard to see why it was so successful then.

Love & Belonging? Anything with ‘family, ‘romance’ ‘couples only’ or even ‘join like-minded others’, ticks this box.  So, from sun-kissed Caribbean resorts to English stately homes, history cruises, to theme parks, even Butlins.  Each feeds this basic desire to spend quality time with those we care for, or just want to get to know a little better.

Self-actualisation?  I had to look this up so clearly it doesn’t apply to me, but if I was a closet diva, just waiting for Mr Cowell to uncover my latent talent, perhaps this would drive me on.  Desperate to book a Circus Skills school or dabble in watercolours in Tuscany perhaps?  Maybe, the chance to explore a passion and make a career of it would be my equivalent of winning the lottery?  Think Paul Potts.  (Actually, I’ve no idea what happened to him, but I bet it felt great at the time).

So, you get the gist right?  We are all motivated by a combination of basic needs and additional wants in everything we do.

Holiday dog in sunglasses

Like all the best cocktails however, this isn’t about just one thing.  With holidays, most of us see them as the polar opposite of work, the antidote to the daily grind.  For many, the routine of the 9-5 week is something to be escaped from.  We run away, create sharp contrasts to the other 47 weeks of the year.  Whether it’s the schedule (staying up late & long lazy mornings), the food (remember the first time you tried Calamari?), the experiences (would you ride a banana boat in your bikini in the local park?) and even the outfits that you pack as your holiday costume (there’s even such a thing as ‘Cruise Wear’ – who knew!).  All contribute to this feeling of escape, and freedom.

For those who seek prestige and status and happily wear badges to tell the world they’ve made it, an impressive holiday can be considered the ultimate reward for a long year of hard work and big earnings.  Sometimes in direct correlation to their perception of self-worth, spending shed loads of cash on a seven-star exotic long haul bespoke luxury etc experience brings them pleasure in itself.  A sense of appropriate return for their efforts perhaps.

So, it’s less about the location, the accommodation, the food even, and more about how it makes you FEEL.  The feeling of comfort, familiarity, spending quality time, learning and developing, relaxing, indulging or a million other emotional experiences.  That’s what we’re looking for on holiday – that great feeling. And it’s not just during the time you’re away.  It extends to the planning, the discussions, the sharing afterwards and long afterwards too.  It’s the feeling.

Watching a recent series of ‘Rich Holiday, Poor Holiday’, it’s fascinating to see how the big spenders eventually reach the mindset that the producers were no doubt shooting for.  That it’s all about ‘the people you’re with and that feeling of spending quality time together’, leaving the ‘poor’ participants smiling rather smugly as they already knew that, somehow making their predicament more bearable. 

So next time you’re holed up in a chilly caravan, shouting at each other over the din of relentless rain on a metal roof and moaning as the TV’s lost signal and there’s no Netflix. Remember, it’s the feeling of togetherness that counts!  Yeah, no solutions to this one, but after all this is a website about Scottish Gin, so I guess that’s your answer, gin, right there.

Problem solved.

You’re welcome.

With 2021 well underway and Burn’s Night fast approaching, we thought we would share some of our Scottish Gin suggestions to rival any Whisky, for your ‘At Home Burns Supper’ this year. 

Traditionally toasting Robbie Burns with a ‘dram’ of Whisky, and for the true Scots among us, usually neat, we thought we would come up with some Scottish Gin suggestions for all you ‘Lads & Lassies’ out there who want something different this year.  A break from tradition maybe? But we think you will be Ginspired.

GoodWill Gin, GlenWyvis Distillery.

Glenwyvis Distillers based in the Highlands of Scotland, beneath the magnificent Ben Wyvis mountain, on the outskirts of Dingwall.  The team at Glenwyvis Distillery, producers of the Cask Matured GoodWill Quercus Alba Gin could definitely be a contender for your Burns Supper Dram.  A limited Edition, aged in a single American ‘white oak’ Barrel to give it the vanilla notes.  Also producers of GoodWill Quercus Robur, a cask matured, limited edition Scottish craft gin. The difference being this expression is aged in a single 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Hogshead, which gives this gin a richer flavour. An ideal selection for toasting the haggis on Burns night.

Makar Gin, The Glasgow Distillery Co.

Makar Oak Aged Gin is the brainchild of The Glasgow Distillery Co.  Producers of Whisky, Gin, Vodka & Rum, these Distillers have a range that will suit everyone.  The name Makar derives from the ancient Scots word for ‘poet’ – a maker of verse; this is what the team at The Glasgow Distillery are proud to commit to every bottle produced. The award winning Cask Matured Makar Oak Aged Gin is a must for your ever growing Gin Shelf. 

Firkin Gin, Edinburgh

An Edinburgh based award-winning family of Gins; Firkin Gin appeals to traditional drinkers as well as the newbies of the Gin world.  With their distinct branding you can choose from Gins which have been rested in Scottish Islay whisky casks giving them a peaty, smoky finish. If you prefer a lighter tipple, try the Gin rested in American white oak cask or even the French wine cask.  Something even Robbie Burns would approve of.

Lassies Toast Gin, Dunnet Bay Distillers

The title for the most northerly mainland Distillery in the UK belongs to that of Dunnet Bay Distillers, producers of the award-winning Rock Rose Gin.  We all strive to make our Gin Shelves that little bit different and have different expressions for just the right occasion. Why not fill that space on your shelf with the Rock Rose limited edition ‘Lassies Toast Gin’. This gin has been inspired by the Moorland Tea that Robert Burns is rumoured to have enjoyed in his time.  So, come on all you Lassies (& Laddies) order a bottle online in time for Burns Night.

Kilty Gin, Dunblane

In the heart of Scotland, Kilty Gin based in Dunblane. A tipple that sounds ‘the’ most appropriate accompaniment for a Burn’s Supper.  Rowan berries hand picked from just outside the distillery are the key ingredient for this London style dry gin.  With its beautiful tartan ‘Kilty’ label it’s the perfect centre piece for your table. Order online and get your bottles personally etched with initials or name of choice.  For more information and to order online click here.

So whatever tipple you choose to toast the haggis with, make it Scottish. Have a look on our Gincyclopedia to see if there are any more that you would like to try. Buy direct online, and have them delivered right to your door step. Slàinte Mhath!

With Christmas fast approaching, we thought we would give you some ginspiration on what to buy your loved ones this year. So let the Christmas shopping for Scottish Gin beGIN!   There are so many Scottish Gins to choose from so we have picked out a few of the more Christmassy ones to get you started. 

Visit our unique Gincyclopedia too. Where you can plan a future staycation in Scotland and visit one of the many Gin Distilleries, take part in a Gin Experience or treat yourself to a Gin Break!  We also have a downloadable Ginspired Scotland gift voucher that you can print at home, customise yourself and plan your perfect Gin Getaway. Christmas shopping for Scottish Gin couldn’t be easier.

Ginspired Scotland

Escape to some of Scotland’s most beautiful places, while you stay at home with the Ginspired Scotland’s ‘Taste the Adventure’ pack. This Gin Tasting pack contains everything you need to create your holiday to the home of Scottish Gin, including 5 x 50ml samples of Scottish gins along with some local tonic too!

Planning your trip with every sip, this pack is perfect for two to share. Simply pour your Scottish Gin, discover the surrounding area, and plan your trip. Route 1 takes you on the High Road from Glasgow to the Outer Hebrides and back again.

Included Gins: Devil’s Staircase Gin, Isle of Raasay Hebridean Gin, Downpour Gin, Misty Isle Gin, Crossbill Gin

This Gin pack does not include a tutored tasting session, simply open when you are ready, read the tasting notes, follow the route, and enjoy at your own, holiday induced leisure!

Avva Scottish Gin

Multi-Award winning artisan craft gin distillery from Elgin, Speyside.  From Cask finished gin, a Navy Strength expression, colour changing and a pink gin, Avva has something to suit a gin newbie or the gin connoisseur.  Check out their online Christmas shop where you can buy the ‘Berry Bubbles Christmas Fizz’ pack, Cocktail Hampers, and the very adorable Gin Huts. A perfect secret Santa gift, or pop it on your tree to enjoy on the big day.  Prices start from £6. Vouchers are also available.

Porter’s Gin

Based in Aberdeen, the basement of the Orchard Bar is home to Porter’s innovative micro-distillery. Perfecting the Art of ‘Cold Distilling’  Porter’s Gin have a range of Gins online.  Their latest expression inspired by the flavours of Champagne, using cold-distilled green apples and pears with a classic juniper base, and is now available.  Great gift ideas to choose from too.  The 3 x Miniature collection, the Porter’s Scottish Gin Christmas Cracker or why not make someone’s day buy sending them a Negroni!! A ready to drink sealed Negroni with a personalised postcard delivered to the recipient’s door for £10.  Socially distanced Secret Santa sorted.

El-Gin

Distilled and bottled in Elgin, Morayshire, El-Gin is ‘no ordinary gin’.  Scottish Oats are added to give a soft creaminess to the gin.  Head over to the online shop and treat yourself to the ‘Gin-gle Gin’ Christmas spirit which was inspired by a family Christmas cake recipe dating back five generations. Christmas served in a glass.

Selkirk Distillers

Based in the Scottish Borders, Selkirk Distillers produced their first gin in 2017.  The main botanical being the Gorse Flower, also known as the golden flower of Thor, is hand picked, cleaned and dried before infusing it in their Gin.  There second expression was Bannock Gin, the bannock used in this gin comes from Cameron’s Bakery in Selkirk, home of the original bannock.  Both can be ordered in beautifully presented Gin Stars, which would look amazing on a Christmas tree.  For something under the tree order the Ginstar Hamper…Maybe have both!

Persie Gin

At Ginspired HQ the dogs in our life play an important role. Distracting us, keeping us company, and getting us out in all weathers!  So for the dog lover in your family what about Persie Gin.  Persie Distillery joined forces with PADS (Perthshire Abandoned Dogs Society) as its dedicated charity partner. As a keen dog-friendly business, the team’s mission was to release a family of ‘dog gins’ – with different styles of gin reflecting different breeds! For every bottle sold, £1 is donated to PADS to help provide care and shelter for the country’s unwanted dogs.  Choose from a Labrador Gin, Spaniel Gin, Dachshund Gin, Dog Days Gin or have a bottle personalised.  Click here for more details.

North Point Distillers

Crosskirk Bay Gin is the very first Gin from North Point Distillers.  Producing small-batch, sustainable spirits that honour the heritage of Scottish Distilleries and the history of the local area – the beautiful county of Caithness.  Buy online, for all those who want to be up to date with all the latest Scottish Gin and a great addition to anyone’s gin shelf!

Barra Atlantic Gin

Barra Atlantic Gin Christmas Crackers are back this year and are available to pre-order.  If that is not exciting enough, the team at Barra Atlantic are giving ONE lucky winner a chance to win a year’s supply of gin!! All you have to do is find the lucky Golden Ticket!  A Golden Ticket will be placed at random in a set of Barra Atlantic Crackers.  If you win you will receive a bottle of gin at the beginning of each month.  What’s not to like.

We hope we have inspired you to start, finish or even treat yourself to something extra. Christmas shopping for Scottish Gin not only helps support local businesses, but you can do it from the comfort from your own home. Dream of your future Scottish Gin Break, experience or getaway to Scotland and gift it to your nearest and dearest.

Ginspired Logo 'Drew' in his Christmas hat

Gift a Getaway this year and help to support local business in what has been an incredibly tough year for everyone.  Gifting a Getaway will create lasting memories. After all, memories can’t be stored at the back of the cupboard, Great Aunt Jean can’t knit you a memory, and you can’t be given the same memories year after year!

So whether you gift a voucher for a staycation, a locally inspired hamper, a Scottish Gin experience or something that is just that little bit kinder to the environment, we have a list to ginspire your Christmas shopping, (Perhaps you’ll find something to put on your own Christmas list too!)

There’s even a customisable Ginspired Scotland Voucher. Create your own unique gift with our printable Christmas Card. Download and print it, then the rest is up to you…apart from the Scottish Gin part, that’s an absolute must!

Maryculter House, near Aberdeen

Maryculter House is one of the most famous and historic hotels in Aberdeen located on the banks of the River Dee and overlooking the Golf Course of Peterculter. Why not buy a voucher so the lucky person can pick from many of their activity packages that they have available. Or try the new ‘WINTER WARMER PACKAGE’ in partnership with Native Sister.  Book a Stay for dinner, bed, and breakfast, and when you retire to your room, you will receive a Native Sister gift box including two pairs of Tom Lane bed socks and a lavender pillow spray. You will also be able to customise your own night-cap, with all the ingredients for a Bailey’s hot chocolate and a hot toddy supplied at your bedside. Gift vouchers available by phone or email and can be emailed directly to you.

Cook School Scotland, online

The Cook School Scotland has had to diversify over the last few difficult months and now provides the very popular virtual cooking classes from home.  There are a variety of classes from Premium Cook School to Kids Cook School.  These are an online, interactive, and fun session where you can mingle with other guests while preparing and enjoying the menu for the evening. Prior to the class, a box will be delivered to your home with all the ingredients you will need along with instructions on what equipment you will need and how to join us on the evening.  What a great Christmas present for the budding chef in your family.  For more information click here.

Duchally Country Estate, Perthshire

Duchally Country Estate in the beautiful Perthshire is the perfect escape.  The multi-award winning hotel and luxurious lodge resort of enjoys 27 acres of private parkland and gardens. Home to the juniper bushes used in the making of Gatehouse Gin.  Launched in 2019, Gatehouse Gin is a joint venture between CLC Duchally Country Estate and Tony Reeman-Clark, founder of Strathearn Distillery.  Why not book a ‘Gin Break’ or gift a voucher to someone special and make their 2020 something to smile about?  Click here for details.

Pixel Spirits, Ballachulish, near Fort William

The gift of going back to school! Gin School that is. Pixel Spirits is a craft distillery set in the grounds of Loch Leven Hotel in the Scottish Highlands.  The Gin School experience is suitable to individuals, couples or small groups interested in gin distilling. Whether a connoisseur or just wish to know more or experience and learn something new! Live virtual Gin School experiences are also now available for groups.  A perfect gift for a safe Christmas Party or a virtual gathering with friends & family!  Monetary gift vouchers available. Click here for more details.

Highland Safaris, Aberfeldy, Tayside

Highland Safaris and Red Deer Centre has an amazing amount on offer for all the family. From exhilarating Land Rover Safaris, scenic boat trips of Loch Tay, the popular Red Deer Centre, walking and Biking activities and Perthshire’s only Gold and Gem Panning Centre, what’s not to like!  Book an activity of buy a gift voucher for the adventurers in your family.  Click here for more details.

Loch Melfort Hotel, near Oban

Loch Melfort Hotel is a unique retreat, set in 17 acres of gardens and beach on the romantic coast of Argyll in the Scottish Highlands.   Although closed until 29th Jan 2021, why not make the most of their ‘Winter Warmer Breaks’ available in the month of February.  Loch Melfort Hotel is offering a fully flexible Winter Warmer rate to hopefully give peace of mind when booking. Should you need to cancel you can do so with no fees up until 10am the day you are due to arrive. Enjoy a delicious a la carte dinner in our restaurant (or in your room if you prefer) and taste a selection of the finest Scottish produce, including seafood and steak.

Caithness Chocolates, online

Caithness Chocolates, Handmade in the Highlands offer a ‘Make Your Own Chocolate Truffle Kit’. A perfect secret Santa or stocking filler for those tricky to buy people on your list. The kit comes with all the main ingredients, instructions and the box comes with cardboard dividers and ribbon, in case you would like to gift your creations.  Gift it or have a go yourself at being a chocolatier for the afternoon.

The Factor’s House B&B, Cromarty

The Factor’s House B&B is a luxury B&B Accommodation in the Highlands and listed in the Top Picks for Scotland in the 2018 Michelin Guide.  Stay at this luxury B&B and simply get away from it all. Set within private grounds overlooking the Cromarty Firth, you are just a short walk to the beach, quaint shops, bars and eating places. With a 20% discount during November – January 2021 we think a winter break is in order.

Kinloch Lodge Hotel, Isle of Skye

Kinloch Lodge Hotel has unique offers not to be missed.  Why not check out their Sunday Lunch Sleepovers. Or you may prefer the Digital Detox Tweet Retreat. Watch the receptionist lock away your mobile phone – and other digital devices – essential for making the most of the tech-free-pleasures of this new Digital Detox Break. The two-night break includes lots of ‘old-school’ activities like painting and puzzling, to keep your mind occupied. Plus plenty or pampering and relaxation to help you unwind. The weekday special on offer is the Forage, Feast and Distil your own Gin. You will select botanicals that will form the base of your bespoke tipple in a hands-on gin making school, hosted by Skye’s very own expert spirit makers at the Isle of Skye Distillers.  For booking details click here.

The Torridon, Wester Ross

The Torridon, set in the backdrop of the Torridon mountains looking down beautiful Loch Torridon and across its own 58 acre estate. Renowned as a very special oasis of luxury, the hotels 13 beautifully appointed bedrooms offer top notch comfort for a winter or springtime break in this most elegant setting. Mix it up by selecting from the fine dining menu at ‘1887 Restaurant’, or the more informal experience of Bo & Muc.  There are even dog friendly rooms and a self-catering boat house for a longer stay.  We recommend an Arcturus Gin Afternoon Tea, followed by an overnight stay to really relax.  Gift Vouchers are also available and are valid for 12 months, to give maximum flexibility to your gift plans.

Culloden House Hotel, Inverness

Culloden House Hotel is a luxury hotel situated in nearly 40 acres of private gardens and woodlands. Soak up the tranquility and majesty of the grounds. Check out their winter special offers such as the ‘Culloden House Winter Retreat’. Relax in front of the roaring fire with complimentary Afternoon Tea whilst you wind down in time for your amazing 30-minute massage in the comfort of your own room. If you want a bit of adventure try the ‘Culloden House Highland Voyage’. Available from October-March where you can enjoy visiting the historic site of Culloden Battlefield and its fantastic Centre, enjoying the breathtaking scenery of Loch Ness onboard the Jacobite Queen. With entry to the romantic ruins of Urquhart Castle, this package has everything you need to truly experience the Highlands of Scotland.

The Dowans Hotel, Aberlour, Speyside

A family run boutique Scottish hotel on Speyside. Overlooking the village of Aberlour in the heart of the Malt Whisky Trail. The Dowans Hotel really has it all, luxury rooms, a roaring fire, cocktails, a whisky bar, fine dining all while enjoying a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. At the heart of Speyside there is plenty of opportunity to get out and see the beauty of Speyside whatever the season.

Until March 31st 2021, there are a range of specials on offer:-

DBB rate @ £205 for a Deluxe King room (upgrades are available)

A curated led gin tasting @ £25 per person with 3 Speyside gins, their recommended ‘serve’ and an arrival Gin based cocktail (normally £30) – has to be arranged in advance.

Club for B&B, discounted snowboard hire, discounted transport to and from the Lecht or Aviemore and an après ski treat on return from the slopes each day @ £300 per room (upgrades are available)

MacAli Hotel Group Inverness, Nairn, & Lossiemouth

The MacAli Group Scotland operate a number of Hotels, Serviced Accommodation, Restaurants and Take Away Outlets in Northern Scotland including the Golf View Hotel & MacIntosh Restaurant, Lossiemouth, West End Hotel & Restaurant Nairn, Firth Hotel & Restaurant Lossiemouth, and the Crown Court Town House Hotel & Bar in Inverness. All the hotels boast attention to detail and value for money and they’ve all been recently refurbished and finished to a high standard. Have a look at their superb offer valid until April 2021. 1 night dinner (2 courses), bed and breakfast for two people £99.  2 nights (same basis) £139 all with a 48 hour cancellation policy. A great Christmas Getaway Gift idea at a great price.

For all your Getaway Transport needs across the north and east of Scotland. contact DM Executive Travel.

For all bookings mentioning ‘Ginspired Gift a Getaway’, they will offer a 10% discount on rates! Choose from Executive Cars, Range Rovers or Mercedes V Class transfers.

Tor-Na-Coille Hotel & Restaurant, Banchory

Tor na coille Hotel is a privately owned Victorian Country House Hotel located in the village of Banchory on Royal Deeside. Set in acres of wooded grounds, this magnificent granite building enjoys an elevated position offering panoramic views of the surrounding hillside. The property has undergone a full refurbishment bringing it up to a quality 4 star hotel as recognised by Visit Scotland. Buy gift vouchers (valid for 6 months) and check out their latest offers or simply treat yourself to a wee well deserved staycation.

Kildrummy Inn, Strathdon

A traditional inn focusing on excellent food showcasing the best of the rich and diverse Scottish larder. A family owned and run establishment situated at the heart of rural Aberdeenshire, offering a mixture of affordable luxury and comfortable tranquillity. Beautiful countryside views from every bedroom, roaring log fires and deep sofas in our lounge combined with spectacular scenery to explore and enjoy. The location makes Kildrummy Inn an excellent base for touring this beautiful part of the Grampian Mountains & beyond, a great escape for anyone wanting to get away from it all! Gift Vouchers are available (valid for 6 months). Why not treat your friends and meet them there for dinner and overnight?

The Douglas Hotel, Isle of Arran

The Douglas Hotel is the focal point for the village and an ideal base for the discerning traveller. Offering a personalised level of service in luxury and comfort, the knowledgeable Douglas Hotel staff will ensure access to the huge variety of activities available on Arran, whether they be sporting, cultural or historical. Super friendly and already multi award winning, no expense has been spared in creating the unique feel of ‘home away from home’ whilst adding a touch of modern luxury. Although temporarily closed until the 11th December, The Douglas Hotel will remain open for takeaway and why not plan for the future with a voucher or their or take a look at their winter package. starting at £109 per ROOM per night – Midweek (Sun-Thur) £139 per ROOM per night – Weekend (Fri / Sat)

The Saplinbrae Hotel, Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire

Aberdeenshire’s Saplinbrae Hotel has long been known for it’s glorious food and a warm welcome but have you heard of their super gorgeous ‘Catch Up Package’? Two people can share a luxury room, complete with a welcome bottle of prosecco or wine, then have a Scottish gin cocktail & canapes before a three course dinner with wine pairings. All for £200/£220! Your popularity ratings would be sky high if you gifted this one!

Less than one hour by train from Glasgow, and around two from Edinburgh, getting to the Jewel of the Clyde, or Great Cumbrae , couldn’t be easier.  It makes a perfect destination for a Ginspired short break or just a day trip.  You don’t even need your car!

Neither will it break the bank.  A full rail return from Glasgow costs less than £20.  Add the ferry (£3.40) and a brief bus fare, and you’re on one of the Clyde’s prettiest islands, with lots to see and do, even if the weather isn’t at it’s best.


Cumbrae has been inhabited since the 13th Century, and played a part in subduing Clyde Smugglers in the 1700s.  It was a favourite for holidaymakers in the 50s and 60s as they headed ‘doon the watter’, but has recently seen growing numbers of visitors who enjoy the peace and quiet, spectacular views, and a gentle pace of life.  People talk of a feeling of relaxation slipping over them as they head out on the 10 minute ferry ride from Largs to the Cumbrae Slip. Isn’t that something we could all use just now? Welcome to island life.

Once on this island of 1000 bicycles, (and three bicycle hire shops) there’s plenty to occupy come rain or shine.  

Nostalgin from Cumbrae

First stop has to the newly opened Cumbrae Gin Distillery.  Technically not quite yet a distillery, but locally produced ‘Nostalgin’ has proved so popular that the island ran out of tonic when it was first released in September 2020! 

Learn more at Isle of Cumbrae Distillers

 

Don’t worry though, there’s plenty to go around now, and Nostalgin is widely stocked in pubs and bars across the island. Do pop in to the shop and visitor centre by Millport’s harbour.  Sit by the roaring log fire, chat to the all-female team of founders, and enjoy a sample of this delicious gin.  Make sure you buy at least one bottle to take home with you.  There’s mail order too if you don’t want to carry it.  From around March 2021 tours should be possible, but for now enjoy being the first of your friends to sample one of Scotland’s newest gins.

 

If your tooth is sweet and your appetite bolstered by the cooler days and longer nights, you’ll need no persuasion to visit Brewbakers of Millport.  Here Johanna produces amazing chocolates, bread, cakes, quiches, biscuits and any manner of treats.  Including, Nostalgin infused chocolate truffles!  Now how can you miss those? 


If you need to burn off some of those delicious calories, Cumbrae has its very own James Braid designed golf course, and hiring a bike and cycling the 10 mile or so perimeter road is a popular pastime on a bright sunny day.  Some of the bikes available come with three or four wheels, or try a tandem. (Sit at the back and no one knows you’re not pedalling, just eating more truffles!)

Perhaps you prefer to stay on your own two feet, in which case a short climb to the Glaid Stone will reward you with views all around on a clear day, and keep you warm into the bargain.

On days when the clouds are also visiting Cumbrae, leave them outside while you visit the beautifully restored Garrison House in the centre of Millport.  Built in 1745 it’s now home to a museum (free admission) telling stories of Cumbrae’s past as an anti-smuggling station. It also has a model railway on display, a craft shop and a café.  Truly something for everyone.  The UK’s smallest cathedral, The Cathedral of the Isles, is also in Millport, and provides retreat-style accommodation for visitors too. When hunger bites, both the Newton Bar and Frasers Bar offer good pub food and also Nostalgin (with plenty tonic back in stock!).  So, complete your day with a hearty meal before heading back to the ferry and your return to the real world.  Or stay overnight and enjoy more island life tomorrow.  Those truffles are very moreish after all!