What The Dickins: A Tale Of Edinburgh City

A Brief Lesson in Gin by Vino Wines

Vino Wines, Edinburgh

The Gin Festival Edinburgh 2016 is on at the Corn Exchange this weekend (7th-9th October) and with the ever-increasing popularity of the spirit we thought there’s no better time than now to learn a bit more about this wonderful juniper-based drink! We turned to our friend Iain at the local and independent wine, beer and spirit shop Vino Wines and asked him a few crucial questions about gin. Vino Wines now comprises of four shops around Edinburgh as well as newly opened Vino Wine Bar & Shop at the Waverley Arches. Vino Wines is also kindly giving away a bottle of Arbikie Gin, so make sure you scroll down to find out how to enter the competition!


1. Can you explain briefly what exactly gin is and how it’s made?

Gin is a spirit made from malt or grain in the main, where the dominant botanical is Juniper. It also has angelica, cardamon, lemon peel, orange peel and other botanicals – typically a gin mixes 6-10 botanicals. Modern artisan gins are much more defined in their style, using ever more varied and exotic botanicals. In addition, gin can be made in pot stills or column stills with many distilleries pushing the boundaries and quality.

2. What makes gin special?

Wow now that is a question. Quality of spirit and flavour are very important and also the ability to produce very individual gins that are vey different from each other. The explosion in artisanal gin production has been amazing in the last decade and we have a number of gins in Edinburgh now as well; with Pickering’s Gin, Edinburgh Gin, Daffy’s Gin, Electric Spirit Co. from Leith and NB Gin from North Berwick we are spoilt for choice as they are all very individual.

3. There seems to be a big gin craze at the moment. Why do you think that is?

I think as with the explosion in craft beer, people are more adventurous and curious, and the rise and quality and variety have helped a lot along with access to social media and more dedicated festivals, bars and specialist retailers carrying a good range with educated staff.

4. Red wine is often paired with cheese. Are there any foods that go particularly well with gin?

To be honest I get about as far as the olive in my dirty martini as a food group, saying this gin does work well with charcuterie and savoury pastries just pair with something like Gin Mare.

5. What’s a good gin for a beginner?

I have a few recommendations:

Caorunn Gin – floral and fragrant and a lovely summer gin from Speyside.
Edinburgh Gin – a well balanced gin with citrus undertones and perfect for a G&T.
Kirsty’s Gin by Arbikie – now this one is different as it’s gluten free as the base spirit is made from potato, giving it a wonderful creamy edge.

6. Your top 3 gin cocktails?

Martini – preferably dirty as hell. 3 olives and a slick of brine.
Vesper (the bond favourite) – it really is rather good, a true classic.
Negroni – I love a Negroni rich and bitter, it’s such a classic when mixed well.

7. What are the best places to go to if you want to sample some nice gins in Edinburgh?

56 North have a stunning range as well as gin masterclasses, The Jolly Botanist in Haymarket also have a enviable range, the bar at Summerhall is great as they have Pickering’s on tap as the distillery is next door. The Heads & Tales Gin Bar owned by Edinburgh Gin at Rutland Place in the West End is a wonderful gin cave of sample and mixing.

8. Last but not least, what’s your gin of choice?

Hmm I have a few favourites..

Monkey 47 from the Black Forest is a truly stunning gin drunk neat with a twist of lemon.

Edinburgh Gin’s Seaside Gin has been a favourite all summer made with bladderrack, scurvy grass and ground ivy. It tastes like a fresh morning by the sea.

Finally I really like the creamy nature of Arbikie’s Gin that is rather good in a G&T.

For martini making I have been favouring Pickering’s 1947 which is their higher juniper recipe and Eden Mill’s Hop Gin which has beer hop as one of the botanicals making it nicely savoury. The best thing is to get out there and find your favourite.

You might also be interested in our previous guest blog by Vino Wines “Whisky for beginners”.

WIN a bottle of Arbikie Kirsty’s Gin!



Image credit: Arbikie

All you need to do to be in with a chance to win this fantastic bottle of award winning, creamy Arbikie Gin is to comment on this blog post, letting us know what your favourite way of drinking gin is. You can also enter on our Facebook page by commenting on the competition post or on Twitter by retweeting one of the competition tweets and following Dickins.

The competition will run from noon on October 6th to noon October 13th. The winner will be notified within 48 hours. The bottle will be collectable at the Vino Wines shop on 1 Grange Loan in Edinburgh.

Good Luck!


  • Alex F

    November 4, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I’ve not come across this one yet, but can I suggest you try CoNKER from Dorset? It’s one I’ve just discovered and is really lovely and drinkable. Oh and I have my gin neat with a twist of lemon.


  • kellyjo walters

    October 13, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    perfect I only discovered gin this year .. I love it with cucumber tonic


  • Bev

    October 13, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Simple! Tonic and lime. Occasionally with sweet and sour mix!


    • Fiona MacLeay Marshall

      October 13, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      I love a gin and fever tree tonic and some blueberries in the glass

  • James McConnon

    October 13, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Just unadulterated G&T in a tall glass whilst cooking for friends or reading a book at the end of a long day.


  • Melanie Chadd

    October 13, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Great blog post.

    I like to keep my gin simple – tonic with a slice of grapefruit. I have also acquired a taste for gin liqueur either on its own or with lemonade (yes I do have a sweet tooth).


  • lou chaud

    October 13, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I love it on the rocks with a slice of lemon. Chin Chin every one!


  • Lindy Winship

    October 12, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    I am the original gin queen


  • Annaloa Hilmarsdottir

    October 12, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    I like my gin with tonic water and a slice of lime.


  • Sammie

    October 12, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Love gin with fresh strawberries and a splash of tonic water, utterly delicious.


  • Lesley

    October 12, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Fever tree light tonic with ice, fruit and served in a huge gin goblet


  • Evette Williams

    October 12, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Love a drop of gin with bitter lemon


  • kat lucas

    October 12, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Just with fresh lime squeezed in it


  • Fionn

    October 12, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    With elderflower tonic water, ice & a couple of blueberries!


  • Hannah igoe

    October 11, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    I love gin served with lime whilst in the garden as dusk settles


  • helen wigglesworth

    October 11, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    on the rocks with a squeeze of lemon, perfection !


    • Dickins

      October 11, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      Perfection indeed!

  • Holly

    October 10, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Anyway it comes! Had it with ginger beer once, and it was surprisingly tasty!


    • Dickins

      October 10, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Oh wow, sounds interesting!

  • Wendy Pollard

    October 7, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    I’m intrigued to taste the creamy Arbikie Gin which is award winning – gin is such a versatile spirit & can create such amazing taste sensations.
    The blog is extremely interesting & that this gin would pair well with charcuterie – as for cocktails they are my favourite & I’ve tried the Negroni & enjoyed it very much!


    • Dickins

      October 10, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the blog! Gin really is such a great spirit and it’s great that people are starting to appreciate it more and more!

  • Claire McGowan

    October 7, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Gin and slimline tonic with blueberries and lime


    • Dickins

      October 10, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      Sounds lovely!

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