Edinburgh’s 400 unlicensed gin distilleries!?.

Edinburgh’s 400 unlicensed gin distilleries!?.


On the 29th of this month we look forward to bringing the Scottish Gin Festival to our historic capital. Edinburgh is often famed for its breweries and whisky bars, but did you know that Edinburgh’s love affair with gin dates back as far as the 1700s?


The gin craze of the 18th century took the city by storm. Although there were only 8 legitimate gin distilleries, there were over 400 unlicensed gin makers! Thousands of gallons were imported and exported into Leith port, the nations busiest trading port at the time.  Which is why it seems right to hold the Scottish Gin Festival at the Biscuit Factory in Leith, less than a mile away from this historic gin port!


Edinburgh was officially drunk on gin, with consumption levels through the roof. In fact, gin was largely blamed for an epidemic of national drunkenness.  In an attempt to ‘cure’ this epidemic, parliament passed a series of laws to control the amount of gin distillers could produce.


This seemingly unquenchable thirst for gin began to tail off as gin became too expensive for the masses.  On a more positive note, new distilling techniques meant gin quality increased significantly, going from a very harsh Dutch-style genever, to a purer and more aromatic ‘London Dry’, much like the one we know and love today.


For our favourite white spirit, the next few hundred years proved challenging, England began to dominate gin distillation, whilst Scotland focused its efforts on the whisky industry. There were however, still eight gin companies in Leith in 1883. When Melrose Drover seized production of Old Tom gin in 1974, it looked as though Edinburgh’s long history with gin was over.


That’s why we are thrilled to see a new generation of gin distilleries taking back the capital once more and paying homage to their gin heritage. Edinburgh Gin, Lind and Lime and Pickerings are but a few distilleries raising the profile of Scottish gin!


So there we have it, Edinburgh’s fascinating relationship with gin! If you’d like to explore the cities finest gins and other Scottish distillers, be sure to come along to the Scottish Gin Festival, taking place on the weekend of the 29th March at Leith’s very own Biscuit Factory!

 Can't wait for the festival..? Have you tried out our online gin shop yet? 

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1 comment

  • An interesting insight into Edinburgh and it’s Gin history, I had no idea. Can’t wait till the event.


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