Gin Tasting at Lilliard Gin

Lilliard leaflet

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.

Copper gin still

A Still Named Donald

The Taste

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.

What’s on September


September is Heritage month in the Scottish Borders and there’s lots of exciting events to tempt you.  Sit down with a cup of coffee and the event programme and start booking your tickets – here’s a list of my favourites .  Look out for the  Lammermuir Music Festival, which brings fine musicians and old buildings together.  And don’t forget its Sourdough September, so have a go at making your own bread.

Scottish Borders Heritage Festival – Where people, place and myth & meet

Celebrate the Year of History Heritage and Archaeology, explore our sense of place through the myths and legends of the Border country.  Join in at 90 venues hosting over 200 events including:  living history, storytelling, archaeology, walks, tours, film, theatre, music, exhibitions and re-enactments.
  • Hear haunting ballads from Scocha, Fisher Lassies, Scottish Vocal Ensemble and the Smailholm Singers.
  • Watch sword fighting, skirmishes and musket smoke rising at Eyemouth Fort, Hume Castle and Philiphaugh Estate
  • Become a Covenanter and attend a secret conventicle on Duns Law where you will be invited to sign the covenant in blood!
  • See horsemen ride into Hume Castle with the Marchmont standard after an absence of over 300 years and Lady Hume’s surrender on the battlements
  • Light a lantern or bring a torch to the parades in Duns, Newcastleton and Newark Castle as part of Lighting the Borders
  • Meet Scottish royalty, priests living in terror and a master mason at Traquair House and the Abbeys of Melrose, Dryburgh and Jedburgh
  • Uncover history at St Abb’s archaeological dig and view real time archaeology at Coldingham Priory
  • Remember WW1 through historic cameos, interpretive dance, talks and a day of presentations at Stobs Camp, Dryburgh Abbey, Ormiston Institute and Mac Arts Centre
  • Taste a Norman feast at Riddell Tower and afternoon tea in the Georgian splendour of Paxton House
  • Explore myths, legends and tales of witchcraft at the Heritage Seminar
  • Be Inspired by artist commissions, exhibitions and compositions including premieres of South to Scotland, Light Years, Sounding out the Past and th’Fleety Wud
  • Walk in the footsteps of the romans, drovers and monks at Trimontium, Tweeddale and Old Melrose
  • Create a lantern at our workshops or take a picture for our photography competition.

It’s Sourdough September

The initiative was launched by the Real Bread Campaign in 2013.  This year many Campaign members  in bakeries and baking schools are running classes and tastings. Sourdough is an ancient way of making bread rise without using commercial yeast.  It involves mixing flour and water and living it to ferment to make a starter.  When the starter is ferreting vigorously a portion is mixed with more flour and water to make a dough. Find out more at  Find books here and sourdough recipes at


Lammermuir Festival 15-24 September

A remarkable festival that brings the finest musicians together with local people and visitors in celebration of music in towns and villages across the county of East Lothian, nestling between the Lammermuir Hills and the sea. The area’s wealth of beautiful buildings inspires the choice of music and artists. Listen to the wonderful Quatuor Mosaïques in their core repertoire of Haydn and Mozart, pianist Steven Osborne and cellist Alban Gerhardt, Gould Piano Trio, Red Note Ensemble, the Orlando Consort, the Dunedin Consort with Handel, the Hebrides Ensemble with Schubert’s Octet, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with Mahler, and Lars Vogt with three Beethoven piano concertos.  And much more!


Yarrow, Etterick & Selkirk (YES) Festival 14-17th September 

The biennial YES Arts Festival brings together local artists and makers with those from further afield.  A a celebration of the unique culture and heritage of the Scottish Borders.  Poetry, Dance, Music, Walking with James Hogg & a 2 day Myths & Magic Conference.


Doors Open Day Edinburgh 23-24 September 

Edinburgh Doors Open Day is your chance to explore some of Edinburgh’s architecturally and culturally significant buildings – all for free. From heritage landmarks to the city’s newest architecture.  Most not usually open to the public or where normally they would charge an entry fee. The event also offers the public an opportunity to find out more about the capital’s public buildings.  A series of talks begins during the week of 18 September.

Remember to check all venues and activities are open before you leave home.  Charges may apply at venues and for activities please check and book if required.