This gin distillery in the Scottish highlands is the perfect place to switch off (and drink gin)

In an attempt to escape city life, I headed to the Caorunn gin distillery – in the Scottish highlands – and discovered there really is nothing better than peace, quiet and a top-notch G&T.

If you’re planning any future trips to the north, make sure this traditional gin distillery in the highlands doesn’t escape your Scottish bucket-list.

This gin distillery in the Scottish highlands is the perfect place to switch off (and drink gin)

Where is it?

Caorunn’s gin distillery is located right in the heart of in the Cairngorm National Park – the largest National Park in Scotland – and is about an hour’s drive from Inverness airport. If you’re planning on embarking on the North Coast 500 (a popular driving route which boasts some seriously scenic roads) then this is the perfect place to kick-start your travels, though drivers will need to stick to soft drinks.

The distillery is crucially located in the highlands in order for local botanicals to be foraged nearby as part of their unique distilling process. As well as six typical botanicals found in most gins, Caorunn also contains five locally-sourced botanicals including coul blush apple and heather. The distillery also benefits from direct access to natural Scottish water sources, resulting in the finest pure grain spirit.

Simon foraging
Local botanicals are foraged from within the Cairngorm National Park

What’s involved in the Caorunn distillery tour?

The doors to the distillery are described as being “always open” and although you are encouraged to book in advance, staff seemed delighted to have curious visitors pop by throughout our visit. The intimate tour allows you to experience a behind-the-scenes look of the distillery’s production area followed by a deconstructed nosing and tasting session led by master distiller Simon Buley. Each tour finishes up with a complimentary Caorunn and tonic, topped with their signature garnish; red apple slices.

Sample their *brand new* gin

Reckon you could handle a 54% strength gin? I’ll admit, I had my reservations but the newest addition to Caorunn’s repertoire was actually my favourite amongst the bunch. To celebrate their 10-year anniversary, Caorunn have launched a Highland Strength Gin. Crafted on site at the Balmenach Distillery, the stronger version of their classic blend, enhances the notes all of the local botanicals within to make a more peppery and herbaceous flavour.

Highland gin
To celebrate Caorunn’s 10 year anniversary this year, the brand has launched a new Highland Strength gin.

Discover the Cairngorms

With so many gin distillery tours operating throughout the UK, how on earth do you differentiate between them all? Caorunn can offer you what many other distilleries can’t; total isolation and idyllic scenery you’d expect to find on a postcard. If you’ve got the time to stay, I’d really recommend that you do. Donne your walking boots and get exploring the local landscape with one of the Cairngorm’s many walking routes. Go kayaking in one of the local lochs as there really is no better view of the mountains than from the water. The region is also home to a whole host of Scottish castles, so you really ought to pay one a visit whilst you’re there. Find out more about the Cairngorm National Park here.

How much does the Caorunn gin distillery tour cost?

Tickets for the distillery tour cost £10 per person. Please note, the tour is for over 18s only.

Where to stay nearby

If you do plan to make a longer trip out of your visit, booking into Muckrach’s country house hotel is a no-brainer. This modern and luxurious boutique hotel is also situated in the Cairngorm National Park and is a short drive away from the distillery. The hotel’s in-house restaurant serves up tasty Scottish grub and the swish hotel bar even offers a range of Caorunn’s signature cocktails. Before you leave, make sure you pay a visit to the hotel’s very own highland cows Hamish and Dougal, which reside in the local fields.

Muckrach hotel
Muckrach Country House Hotel is conveniently located a short drive away from the Caorunn distillery.

How to get there

The Caorunn distillery is approximately a one-hour drive from Inverness airport. If you aren’t renting a car, many local taxi companies offer shuttle services.

More to discover

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