My friend and I recently joined an afternoon gin tasting at Lilliard Gin. The gin is distilled in small batches in a tiny former cowshed turned distillery. The ingredients are found and foraged in the Scottish Borders and the water is from a local spring. The gorgeous little copper still is called Donald and is one of the smallest stills in the UK (photo kindly taken by Lilliard Gin). Normally stills are given a female name but he’s named after a local character, with flowing copper locks, who we were told frequents the Cross Keys bar ( a favourite of ours for food) in nearby Ancrum. The gin is named after Borders legend and local heroine Lilliard who fought (and died) at the Battle of Ancrum Moor, against the English in 1545.
During our tasting we went through 3 stages. We sniffed, smelled and then tasted. Then we dropped in a few ices cubes, which released the most wonderful aromas, and tasted again. Finally we added tonic and happily finished our drink.
It’s a floral gin with some complex citrus notes. Angelica, softened by rosehips and a tiny bit of liquorice. There are a couple of secret ingredients, described as “putting your face in handful of warm hay freshly mown on a summers day”. Best served with a good tonic (Fentimans Botanical Tonic Water from just across the Border would be my choice) and sliver of orange rind. Though I may just drink it neat over ice with a sliver of orange rind. The essential oils in the orange do bring out the flavours well.
You can buy the gin online from Lilliard Gin or from a variety of local stockists, including the Village Shop in Ancrum. There’s also a Lilliard Gin candle. And there may be another gin next year from this small but perfectly formed distillery.
Make Your own Gin
You can also learn how to distil and create your own unique gin. After an introduction to gin and distilling, you can choose your flavours . You then work with a tiny copper still to distill and build flavours to create your own gin blend. A 20cl bottle of your own gin is included in the course price, as are gin tastings and a cocktail demonstration if there’s time. Only for over 18’s, for obvious reasons. Classes run 12.00-16.00 and cost £65
How to Find Lilliard Gin
Lilliard Gin is based at Born in The Borders, alongside an award winning brewery, restaurant, coffee shop and deli. Not forgetting the all age grass sledging and the resident ospreys – Samson and Delilah. Born in the Borders is located at Lanton Mill, Jedburgh TD8 6ST, just off the A698.
Open 11.00-15.00 on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a small distillery so make sure to check it’s open, if you’d like a micro-tour of the distillery, before you leave home.