Have a Dandy Day out in ‘Fundee’!
With oodles of culture and a long-standing history of creativity and design, there’s so much to explore in and around Dundee, not to mention several great local gins. Oh jings, crivvens, help me boab!
Is easy! Less than 90 minutes from Aberdeen to the north, Edinburgh to the south and Glasgow to the south west. It’s a straightforward journey by road, rail or bus, right into the city centre.
Know before you go –
Spreading the enjoyment of marmalade around the world from 1797, Janet Keiller’s invention is still available today and has inspired several of the local gins, especially those from the Dundee Gin Company. Maybe a toast to her? While Verdant Gin is based in the Verdant Works, a refurbished Jute Mill, which formed a vital part of Dundee’s industrial heritage up until the 1970s when jute production was moved to India.
At Discovery Point you’ll find RRS Discovery, the legendary Royal Research Ship from which Sir Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton discovered the South Polar Plateau between 1901 and 1904. Despite Scott’s determination, he was to be beaten to the Pole by Amundsen in 1912, and tragically perished during the return to his ship. Seeing the story laid out in full, and hearing the inspiring tales of these men’s bravery, is not to be missed and will transfix young and old alike. Captain Scott left a son Peter, who would go on to found the World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF, and Slimbridge Wildfowl Centre in Gloucestershire.
Home to publisher DC Thomson since 1886 and well known for the creation of Oor Wullie, The Broons, The Beano and The Dandy, Dundee’s publishing legacy is worth celebrating. Work up a Desperate Dan sized thirst with a walk around the city centre to spot statues, murals and drawings of these well-loved characters. You’ll be amazed how many you recognise, but I’m yet to find a restaurant offering an authentic Cow Pie! Also follow the Street Art Trail, designed to bring colour and interest to blank doors around the city, and creates welcome vibrancy and brightness.
Dundee, with just half the population of Edinburgh and a quarter of Glasgow, has nevertheless become a centre of computer gaming. Competing on the global stage alongside San Francisco, Tokyo and Montreal, Scotland’s fourth city claimed its place with the emergence of Lemmings, and Grand Theft Auto in the 1990s. The Game Design Degree offered by the city’s Abertay University is rated as the best in Europe, and attracts designers from around the world.
What to do –
Scotland’s creativity and design is showcased within the V&A museum, a place of inspiration, discovery and learning. It has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors since it opened its doors in 2018. Occupying a compelling spot on the quayside, the museum structure itself is jaw dropping, resembling a huge ship on the verge of sailing. The only V&A Museum outside of the London original, Dundee was chosen as the city worthy of recognition for its design and creative heritage. The Museum reopens on August 27th 2020 with a new exhibition of Mary Quant, the fashion designer who captured the zeitgeist of a whole generation.
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. A walk up The Law rewards you with spectacular views over the city and far away. So now you’re thirsty, here are the perfect local gins to help you out:-
The great local gins –
Verdant Dry Gin combines juniper and bright citrus with a global blend of botanicals, reflecting Dundee’s jute and marine connections. This produces a delicious award winning gin which can be enjoyed on its own, with tonic, or in cocktails.
The Dundee Gin Co offers gins with a strong Dundonian link throughout their range, including Dundee Cake Gin Liqueur, Marmalade Gin Liqueur and their Classic Dry Gin. See Ginspired Scotland’s light hearted interview with MD Lewis Murphy here.
Crag & Tail small batch Scottish gin combines twelve botanical elements including citrus, elderflower and watermelon to provide a balanced, clean and refreshing citrus taste, with a hint of spice. The name comes from the exposed vertical rocky faces with a sweeping slope behind them left behind by ancient glaciers.
Tayport Distillery’s Wild Rose Gin is bright and fresh with citrus notes and a floral finish. Just 10 minutes out of the city centre, Tayport offers new tours and visitor experiences including their Distillers Kitchen events. Participants leave with a 20cl bottle of their own personal gin, designed and created by themselves! Around 2 hours long, and £50 per person, these are mainly run at weekends.
Eating & drinking –
Enjoy the local gins and the finest foods at a host of bars and eateries across Dundee. Our favourites include Gallery 48, which offers tapas, Spanish wines and gin, with ground-breaking exhibitions by local and international artists. The Bruach Bar in nearby Broughty Ferry has an all day menu with something for everyone, and an interesting cocktail list worth exploring! Duke’s Corner is where to head for cocktails, local gins, craft beers and good food. It has a cool late- night vibe but a friendly welcoming reputation too.
Where to stay –
For Scottish Gins enjoyed in relaxed surroundings, visit Taypark House and its Gin Bar Lounge and Gin & Fizz Garden (hopefully re-opening soon). The elegant Malmaison Hotel is stylishly convenient to both the V&A and Discovery point. Invercarse Hotel with its terrace, great reputation for friendly staff and good food, matched by its views over the city, is a good choice for somewhere to stay. There’s also an abundance of quality chain hotels many of which also stock the local gins. In our experience, many of the hotels offer great value in comparison to Edinburgh & Glasgow. See for yourself and let us know if you agree!
Local produce –
Dundee and surrounds is also home to a growing number of independent specialist food and drink retailers. If you like to shop local, and limit the food miles in your larder, visit The Butcher, The Baker. Here ‘passion’ is key (have your cold shower ready!) Fraser’s Fruit & Veg has a range of local fresh produce plus ready meals, soups and deli foods, all beautifully presented. Just out of town is Grewar’s Farm Shop too, where ‘local’ and ‘quality’ are the watchwords.
So, whether it’s one day, or just day one of many, Dundee will give you lots of choice for stylish viewing, historical learning, energetic exploring, or Ginspired creating! Plus great food to get your Gnashers into. So don’t delay your visit to Dundee, ‘The Cool City with the Warm Heart’.