WATCH: Explore the secret herb garden of Old Curiosity Distillery in Midlothian


A light bulb moment to harness mother nature more and use the bountiful fruits of bountiful bedding berries to a new end has helped the family business diversify.

This is how the Old Curiosity Distillery was born, creating the perfect service to breathe new life into a one-of-a-kind garden at the foot of the Pentland Hills.

But far from riding the wave of the UK gin boom, founder Hamish Martin and his wife Liberty have created a vibrant and entirely unique drink, with packets of fresh herbs bottled with passion and completely free of chemicals.

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Hamish Martin, General Manager of Old Curiosity Distillery

And since its inception in 2017, it’s easy to see why gin enthusiasts and top retailers like Harrods, John Lewis, and Harvey Nichols want a photo of Secret Garden gin.

With more than 1000 junipers, 500 herbs and floral varieties such as scented verbena, geraniums, irises and roses, the gin garden is a special tribute to mother nature. It is also the first and only botanical garden of pure working gin in the country.

And all of the herbs and plants in the gin line are cultivated, hand picked, dried and infused by the team at Secret Herb Garden. They are all 100% natural, without chemicals, sugars or aromatic compounds.

And weaving in and out of planters and various outbuildings marked firmly by the eccentric personality of the Martin family, herbalist Hamish described Old Curiosity Distillery gins as a true product from the ground up to the glass.

Some of the herbs used in the distillation process

“There are no chemicals, everything you see is natural. We don’t even use organic products, ”he explained. “It’s a crowded market, there are so many gins but we’re so completely different that I believe in it – we have botany. “

Plants are cultivated like crops, to limit the impact on the delicate balance of nature.

“I wouldn’t look for wild Scottish juniper or elderflower for example – there has to be a balance and stripping bushes and wild plants of their berries has an impact. I feel very strong about it.

But his talent for cajoling curious yields of rainbow plants from the ground of the earth results in a wall-to-wall gin lounge with huge pots of plants such as cornflower, geranium, yarrow. millefeuille, Scottish lovage and wood have.

Hamish’s overwhelming passion for nature is essential to the sustainability of the product, but it is also endearingly distinguished by its lack of ego.

The brand image of gin puts plants in the foreground. Avoid the advice and example of competitors in the industry where the brand name is the biggest font on the bottle, with Old Curiosity gins you can pretty much guess the name of the distillery. Instead, plants, apothecary rose, lavender and echinacea, and chamomile and cornflower take center stage.

Hamish shrugged, “Nature is amazing – everything revolves around plants. It’s not about me, or how shiny the stills are. These are the ingredients.

And a quirk of nature, or by design of chemistry, when tonic is added to any of the gins, they change color.

“These are fantastic gins and the fact that they turn pink is an added bonus,” said Hamish, “But it’s a lot of fun and we’re excited to come out more and explore more flavors and colors.”

And to give curious fans a glimpse under the hood of the operation, visitors will soon be able to walk around and experience for themselves the magic and tranquility created by Hamish and Liberty in the only gin tour of its kind in the UK. .

From March 23, gin lovers will be able to witness the entire gin-making process for themselves and the tour will end with a tasting of the Secret Garden range.

Hamish said, “Nowhere else in the world is there a gin garden and a distillery on-site like we do here. We’re incredibly proud to say that we grow and pick our own plants before drying and distilling them to perfection, to achieve that distinctive natural flavor and incredible color change. It’s amazing to see nature in action. Everything we do here is done with love, and we are delighted to welcome gin lovers – or those who are ready to be converted – to see the magic of nature and see how we use it to create these gins. specials. We hope people will be blown away by what they see, smell, taste and learn on these tours.


Terri S. Tomasini