Although whisky is the drink most closely associated with Scotland, that tipple is getting stiff competition these days from gin. The drink originally known as Mother’s Ruin is booming once again in the United Kingdom, with an explosion of craft gins, gin bars and distilleries. The Michelin-starred Fera at Claridge’s recently unveiled its own bespoke gin using British botanicals, and Heston Blumenthal, the celebrity chef, has created a gin flavored with Earl Grey and lemon for the upscale Waitrose supermarket, which holds a Royal Warrant.
But the heart of the gin boom is in Scotland, which produces over 70 percent of the gin distilled in the U.K., including Tanqueray and Hendrick’s. Traditionally, gin is served with tonic — try a smaller batch brand such as Q, Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. or British import Fever Tree — although some gin aficionados are now choosing to drink it neat with a garnish. Here’s a closer look at some of Scotland’s small-batch gins and how best to drink them.