Aboard The Lochrin Belle
We love gin and also the fact that there are so many new Scottish ones to choose from – the only dilemma is deciding which one.  Your first port of call should be the Union Basin at Fountainbridge where you can board the Juniper Gin Tasting Union canal cruise and enjoy a relaxing two hours enjoying five of the finest Scottish gins around.  The event is hosted by gin guru Martin Duffy who’s breadth of gin-based knowledge is impressive – he has also teamed up with the Inside-Out Chef who has worked her magic on some tasty bites to keep the munchies at bay.
Our 5 Gins for the evening
We did the 5pm cruise and were treated to a spectacular sunset as we set off on “The Lochrin Belle” with its cheerful skipper and crew at the ready.  First up was a taste of Darnley’s View gin, created by the Wemyss Whisky Company based in Fife – complete with the romantic tale of when Mary Queen of Scots first set eyes on her future husband Lord Darnley at Wemyss Castle.  As well as the history lesson, we got a lesson on tasting neat spirit using a sample of the neat gin.  We were then served a Scottish twist on the classic White Lady cocktail – the Ginger Lady (gin, lemon, triple sec and ginger syrup).  It was a really nice Bon Voyage.
A truly 100% Scottish Gin and Tonic
Next up was a real 100% Scottish treat – Crossbill Gin that sources all of its ingredients (including the elusive Scottish juniper berry) from Scotland.  This was my favourite gin of the evening (maybe because it was served towards the start of the cruise but also because it was served with the only Scottish tonic on the market just now, Walter Gregor from Summer House Drinks.  The sprig of rosemary garnish added even more aroma into the heady mix and gave it a real punchy flavour.
After a couple of gins I was starting to feel a bit light headed and was grateful for the arrival of our first tasty bite – Thai fish cakes.  A fish cake with no potato involved – hurrah – just salmon, prawns and some aromatic spices that echoed some of the gin flavours.  This was also a good opportunity to wander outside and admire dusk falling over the Edinburgh skyline – magical.
Dusk – so peaceful sailing down the canal
The next gin up for sampling was called Minus 33 and is unapologetically aimed at the discerning calorie conscious drinker who doesn’t want to compromise on flavour.  Because of the 33% spirit strength, it’s not technically a gin and when it was mixed into a pink gin fizz, it certainly held it’s own in terms of flavour.  This was the halfway point in our cruise and as we turned to head back, we had another tasty bite – this time a lovely Thai beef salad.
Thai Salad (sorry it’s a wee bit blurry!)
We were next treated to some very local Pickering’s gin based at Summerhall and the result of an old family recipe plus some bucket chemistry.  It’s another newcomer that tasted smooth and spicy neat and had the most classic gin taste of them all – Fevertree ginger ale and grapefruit gave a nice contrast in flavour.  The dessert bite was a very zingy lemon cheesecake that tasted amazing.


Our final gin of the night was Daffys gin and had possibly the most romantic tale to tell – boy goes to France to pick grapes, boy falls in love with the owners daughter, boy eventually marries girl and makes her the goddess of gin on the side of his gin bottle.  It’s also 43.4% which at this stage of the cruise was tempting fate a bit especially teamed up with Amaretto, genepi (like alcoholic chamomile), lemon and apple.  The result was an explosion of flavour and a sophisticated end to the cruise (although by this time I wasn’t feeling very sophisticated).
Delicious Lemon Cheesecake
Needless to say, by the end of the cruise everyone was feeling very jolly indeed and you can enjoy this gin tasting journey for yourself in November and then from Spring next year.  Each cruise has a different combination of gins to try and also a different selection of tasty bites.  The barge is a unique way to experience Edinburgh and Martin makes for congenial company plus you might even learn something about your favourite tipple.
November cruises are almost sold out, so if you fancy going along this year be sure to book as soon as possible.   You can book here at Eventbrite


We were very fortunate to receive a complimentary cruise.  All thoughts above are our own and we would happily have paid the price for the quality and quantity of drinks and food provided.  We will be keeping an eye out for the spring cruises and booking up early. It’s a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours enjoying good food and interesting drinks whilst sailing down the Union Canal.

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