One of the best things to come out of the pandemic has been a renewed sense of ‘loving local’. Whether it was a nearby walk that kept you sane during lockdown or a shop on your local high street, many of us began to appreciate what was on our doorstep.
And if you have broadened that out to supporting local food and drink suppliers, the good news is that there is an abundance of quality brands springing up across Scotland. In Ayrshire, there are some incredible distilleries and that are shaking up the drinks industry. Here’s some of our favourites.
SOUTH AYRSHIRE: A. D. RATTRAY
If you are a bit of a newbie to the world of whisky, A.D. Rattray is the perfect place to go. Founded by Andrew Dewar Rattray way back in 1868, they are experts in selecting the very best in Scotch whisky. They are located within the beautifully renovated old village school in Kirkoswald (near Maybole) and have a family-led team of whisky experts with extensive experience in the industry. Starting life as a distributor of whisky, in 2004 they began bottling a selection of handpicked casks of whiskies for release to the market, The A. D. Rattray Cask Collection. By 2011 they had opened the A. D. Rattray Whisky Experience and Shop, where customers can learn how the firm works with distilleries across Scotland to source interesting spirits.
WILLIAM GRANT & SONS
It is still an independent, family-owned business, but William Grant & Sons is the third largest producer of Scotch whisky in the world. William Grant himself was born in Dufftown in 1839 and established the Glenfiddich distillery with his children in 1887. The firm has now grown to encompass several well-known brands, including Sailor Jerry Rum, Hendrick’s Gin and Monkey Shoulder Whisky. One of William Grant & Sons most important facilities is its Girvan distillery, built in 1963 on the Grangestone Industrial Estate on the outskirts of the town. It is one of the largest production sites of its kind in Scotland – as well as one of the most energy efficient – where spirits like Hendrick’s are produced on a large scale. Since 2007, the site has also incorporated the Ailsa Bay Distillery.
NORTH AYRSHIRE: THE INVENTOR’S GIN
The husband-and-wife team behind the Inventor’s Gin take their inspiration from the land and sea of Ayrshire. A traditional juniper-based gin, nettle and heather root the spirit to the landscape, while the smoked pink pepper and red chilli adds a kick that sets it apart. The gin is inspired by Scotland’s contributions to the Industrial Revolution, and rich history of inventions and discoveries, with a lot of trial and error before they landed on the perfect recipe. The Inventor’s Gin is created using traditional ingredients, and the ‘bathtub’ process, with the ingredients being blended and slowly infused before distillation in a copper pot still.
ISLANDS: ISLE OF CUMBRAE DISTILLERS
Known to many people in the west of Scotland by the name of its only town, Millport, the Isle of Cumbrae has long been a destination of rest and relaxation. And that’s what the team behind the Isle of Cumbrae Distillers hope to achieve with their gin collection. Their signature gin, Nostalgin, won gold at the Gin Masters, while Croc Rock (inspired by Millport’s famous painted rock) won silver at the Gin Masters. This was a huge achievement given the first gin only launched in September 2020, with the all-female distilling team breaking boundaries in a traditionally male-dominated industry. www.isleofcumbrae-distillers.com
Having started out in 1995 with one distillery on the north of the island, Arran whisky expanded in 2019 to open a second distillery in the south. Arran Single Malt starts its life as Scottish rainwater at Loch Na Davie in the hills high above the distillery, with the purity of the water meaning they can create a clean, sweet dram which is entirely unadulterated. They offer a range of single malts, limited edition whiskies, cream liqueurs and blends.