So it finally happened folks. Not only did I create my own gin from scratch using freshly-foraged botanicals, I managed to meet the owners’ of Daffy’s Gin and their unlikely pet, Lenny the sheep.
I remember using Daffy’s in a cocktail I created a while ago and it was probably my very first ‘viral’ photo on Instagram. The photo was reposted far and wide and the team at Daffy’s were the very first company to take interest in my work, and actually ended up sending me my very first bottle of booze too. I vividly remember when they first messaged me telling me they’d like to send a gift packag and the ecstatic joy that I felt was overwhelming… (tell-tale sign of alcoholism?). Since then, I’ve been working with Daffy’s to help promote their newest business ventures and my fascination for the company has been growing ever since; so you can only imagine the excitement I felt when I was invited up to their private distillery in the heart of the Cairngorms.
After a beautiful drive through the Scottish Highlands, we finally arrived at Strathmashie House. I remember hopping out the car and being greeted instantly by Chris, who shortly prompted us to have a drink at his personal distillery bar; it was at this very moment that I knew I was in for a good day.
So after a good 10 minutes of me being completely hypnotised by at least twenty bottles of Daffy’s Gin that were clearly Chris’ wild experiments; we were told it was time to head into the gin school to begin the laboratory work. We began learning about how gin is made all the way from the creation of neutral-grain alcohol, to choosing the flavour profile of the spirit you’d like to whip up. We learned every aspect of the process, with all credit going to Chris and his huge abundance of knowledge!
I went for a sort of ‘forest-y’ vibe with mine and chose botanicals like pine needles, pink peppercorn and Japanese rose petal. The experience was unbelievably fascinating however, their botanical range they had must have been hitting at least 100, and the copper pot stills were just utterly beautiful. Once the progress had been successful and the beautiful nectar was made, it was time for it to be bottled up and packed away for leisurely consumption at home. After we had finished up, it was back to the bar we went. Feeling proud of our achievements, we felt it was only right to have another couple D&Ts before dinner was served, and boy was that another experience in itself.
So before I start with the dinner breakdown, let me just say… in no way is this of any disrespect to the team at Daffy’s, but I genuinely was expecting some takeaway pizza or a trip to the local pub for some fish and chips, but who was I to assume such a thing?! The team had somehow prepared an unbelievable 3 course meal during my time at the distillery bar, in which I’d clearly had too much gin and completely lost track of how long Chris had been slaving away in the kitchen. I was completely blown away with how amazing the food was too, Chris had literally caught fresh mackerel for the starter and also smoked the fish himself too, and the effort was totally worth it, just writing this blog has me salivating again. The mains and dessert were also nothing to be forgotten about too; a beautifully made venison casserole and a mouth-watering pumpkin pie to finish things off.
After being crammed full with three delightful courses, we retreated to the bar for a couple more drinks – just to really drill in the eye-watering hangover the next morning. After the fantastic afternoon and evening, I was heartbroken to leave such a fantastic area of the world, but I couldn’t be more grateful for such an amazing opportunity to meet everyone and create my very own Daffy’s, so if you haven’t already, give Daffy’s a try; after all, they have a pet sheep named Lenny.
– Murray Anderson
Murray is the owner of Westmount Cocktails, a small business devoted to serving bespoke cocktails for any occasion from intimate gatherings at home, to large-scale corporate events and weddings.