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Written by Gin Foundry

After years of neglect, surely it’s time for this Blackwood’s Gin to take pride of place…? We certainly hope so.

The Shetland Islands was rumoured to be plagued by the Viking black-market trade, with many spirits including gin falling into the illicit hands of smugglers, traders and illegal distillation for centuries. And so it would be befitting that Blackwood’s distillery, founded in July 2002 originally, would be set to distil Scotch whisky in the area. Unfortunately, the company fell into administration.

From the ashes, gin arose instead with a new company, Catfirth Ltd, being established to continue business. To our knowledge, this never transpired into actually distilling anything and the gin they created (which was made elsewhere) is now managed by Blavod Wines & Spirits.

From what we have understood, the Blackwood brand now has nothing to do with the original company and as far as we have understood it from our research - the gin is not being distilled in the Shetlands, although no-one seems to want to answer the question as to where and even how (apparently vapour infused) the gin is made.

Blackwood’s Gin does however make use of the home-grown resources from the Shetlands to produce their spirit. The recipe is of Nordic origin and reflects the area’s previous domination by the Vikings who invaded during the 8th and 9th centuries due to a shortage of land in their home further north. Scandinavia.

Small islands such as the Shetlands are vulnerable to changes in vegetation that affect the balance of the local environment too. With the recipe concept formulated, to combat this Blackwood’s Gin produced a clever answer to Global Warming - to make ‘vintage’ gin. The markers dare not to attempt to produce a consistent taste year-on-year, instead allowing Mother Nature to guide their hand. She dictates the flavours, giving each ‘vintage’ distillation its own unique flavour signature, whether that may be herbal, spiced or floral botanicals - hence the vintage tagline. They are similar gins but there are clear differences that can be noticed if one takes the time to compare them side by side.

To source these ingredients - local crofters are brought in to beat around the bushes - literally - and harvest modest batches of the regional botanicals each summer, which can arrive in an unpredictable fashion somewhere between June and September. The botanicals used include wild water mint (gathered from around lochs in the remote outer islands), sea pink flowers, juniper berries, angelica, coriander seed, dried lemon and orange peels, cassia bark, liquorice root powder, nutmeg, cinnamon bark, orris root, violet flowers and turmeric.

Blackwood’s Gin to taste…

The outcome of this botanical collection is a gin that is subtle on the nose with a smooth, fresh taste complete with citrus and herbal notes. Furthermore, although faint, the meadowsweet and sea pink flowers bring a slight sea green colour to the liquid.

Since it’s launch, Blackwood’s Gin has remained a bit of an enigma. A disjointed story and a gin that manages to keep surviving despite the numerous failed attempts and the lack of any real transparency. There are signs that the team behind have understood this and are now developing it in a way that will place it on more solid (honest) ground. Brand aside, it’s good gin and one that is worth seeking out should you come across it.


For more information about Blackwood’s Gin, visit their website: www.blackwoodsgin.co.uk

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