Set at the foot of the Ben Rinnes mountain in Scotland’s Speyside, Glenrinnes Distillery is a new family-owned and run business producing white spirits from fine Speyside spring water and 100 per cent organic ingredients.
Meet Eight Lands – so named after the eight different counties that are visible from the top of Ben Rinnes on a clear day.
What the brand says
- Eight Lands Organic Speyside Gin: a juniper-forward London Dry-style gin which is complemented by locally foraged botanicals.
- Eight Lands Organic Speyside Vodka: an exceptionally smooth and characterful vodka created using an unusual two-stage fermentation process.
Developed by the father and stepson team of Alasdair Locke and Alex Christou, the purpose-built distillery has been borne out of a passion for the land, for nature and for family legacy. The process was started three years ago, with botanical surveys and spring flow rates as part of a feasibility study that helped the family understand what they might be able to achieve and where on the family estate a distillery would be best sited. Alex is responsible for the day-to-day running of the business, relishing bringing something new to the very land that he grew up on.
The entire operating process, including the use of bespoke distilling equipment, is designed to ensure that the Eight Lands gin and vodka are sustainable and organic.
The team have firmly nailed their colours to the mast, with no plans to make whisky currently. With this in mind, Alex and his team will be focusing on bringing us quality gin (and we look forward to the vodka too).
Alex says: “I genuinely believe that we have created something special with our organic vodka and gin, and I’m really proud of the team at the distillery for the hard work and passion that they have put into this. We have ambitious plans to build the Eight Lands brand globally in the months ahead and I know that my family and our production team are incredibly excited about sharing our spirits with both the UK and other markets.”
Eight Lands spirits are made using organic ingredients, including some botanicals that grow naturally on the estate. Both spirits are created using the fresh Speyside spring water that flows past the distillery, from the lower slopes of the Ben Rinnes mountain itself.
The bespoke distillery equipment – including the 1,000 litre pot still “Rebecca” (named after Alex’s wife) and the two ten-plate rectifying columns – has been built by local specialists to provide flexibility, allowing the production team opportunity for future experimentation with other expressions and techniques.
The team is made up of operations manager, Meeghan Murdoch, and distiller, Katrina Stewart. Meeghan joined the business at the beginning of 2018 and brings more than 25 years of international drinks industry experience with her on both the production and sales side, including brewing, wine making and distilling. Her commitment and passion for organic products made her a perfect fit for the new distillery. By contrast, this is Katrina’s first full-time distillery role since completing an MSc in Brewing and Distilling from Heriott Watt University. However, her background as a chemical engineer has imbued her with a deep understanding of the precision processes and health and safety principles that are central to Glenrinnes Distillery.
The estate’s farming activities have been wholly organic since 2001, driven by Alex’s mother Kathy and a simple belief that less chemicals in the food chain is better. This ethos stands behind the decision to create Eight Lands spirits from 100 per cent organic ingredients and their accreditation ensures that there are high levels of traceability from grain to glass.
From the botanicals that are used to create Eight Lands Organic Speyside Gin, including estate foraged cowberries and sorrel, to the purity of the spring water that is brought to life through Eight Lands Organic Speyside Vodka – every taste offers spirit lovers the chance to enjoy the nature and balance found in and around this extraordinary part of Scotland, rich in distilling heritage.
Glenrinnes Distillery is open for tours and tastings with the distillery team. The two core products: Eight Lands Organic Speyside Gin (RRP £39.00) and Eight Lands Organic Speyside Vodka (RRP £37.00) are available directly from the Distillery and online at www.eight-lands.com
Both products will be available from www.masterofmalt.com from late June, as well various retailers, bars and restaurants.
Gin Magazine will be exploring Glenrinnes Distillery and Eight Lands further in Issue 08, available August 2019. Keep your eyes peeled on our social media for insight into the distillery.