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Exploring Edinburgh during the vibrant Edinburgh Cocktail Week is like embarking on a journey through the city's rich tapestry of flavours and history.
This beloved annual event, held throughout October, magically transforms the Scottish capital into a spirited hub of mixology. Over ten delightful days, more than 100 participating bars come alive with innovative cocktail creations. On our journey, we ventured into three remarkable venues, each with its unique character, eager to share their exceptional cocktails and premium spirits.
Our first stop was The Grand Café, a hidden gem nestled within the historic Scotsman Hotel. This remarkable establishment beautifully blends the past with modern luxury, and the building's illustrious past as the home of the Advertising & Notices Department of the renowned Scotsman Newspaper adds a distinctive charm. As we sipped on the "Insert Name Here" cocktail, crafted with the exquisite Phraya Deep Matured Gold Rum, we were greeted with the slightly spicy, full-bodied character of this premium Thai rum.
Elegantly presented Phraya’s range of rums which also includes the Elements expression, is aged in oak barrels that have been charred and stored in warehouses situated above lagoons at the mouths of rivers. This unique ageing location takes advantage of the lagoon's cool waters, which effectively temper the maturation process in Thailand's warm climate. The result is a collection of Phraya Rums aged for a period ranging from seven to twelve years, each offering a distinct and refined character.
The cocktail's delightful fusion of flavours and the history-rich backdrop set the tone for our journey.
From The Grand Café, we continued our meandering adventure through the captivating streets of Edinburgh, eventually arriving at McGonagall's Gin & Whisky Emporium. This haven for connoisseurs of fine malts and botanical delights boasts an extensive collection of over 100 gins and 120 whiskies. Here, we sampled the Raspberry Twist cocktail, created with the equally exceptional Caorunn Scottish Raspberry Gin. The gin's modern London Dry character, infused with A blast of raspberry fruitiness with lingering vanilla softness from locally foraged botanicals, added a truly unique touch to the cocktail.
Handcrafted in small batches at Balmenach Distillery in the heart of the Speyside region, Caorunn Gin combines classic gin-making techniques with a modern twist. The brand's range of gins is both diverse and exquisite, offering a selection to suit every palate. From the classic Caorunn Gin, with its slightly spicy, full-bodied profile, to the vibrant Scottish Raspberry Gin and the zesty Blood Orange Gin, Caorunn continues to push the boundaries of gin innovation. For those seeking a more intense experience, the Caorunn Cask Aged and Highland Strength options provide a deeper and more robust gin journey, while the Gin Master's Cut, crafted in collaboration with the Scottish Gin Awards, showcases a complex balance of flavours.
Our final destination was Hotel Du Vin, an oasis of luxury in the heart of the historic Old Town. The building's intriguing legacy, once known as "Bedlam," an 18th-century "lunatic asylum," adds an irresistible layer of intrigue to its modern-day ambiance. Here, we savoured the "Insert Name Here" cocktail, again, an artful blend of Caorunn Gin. The cocktail's delightful layers of tastes, complemented by the rich story of the venue, created a captivating contrast, offering an unforgettable moment in the heart of Edinburgh.
Favoured by bars across Scotland, Caorunn's commitment to using locally foraged Celtic botanicals, including the sacred rowan berry, heather, coul blush apple, dandelion, and bog myrtle, adds an unforgettable character to each expression. Whether enjoyed with a slice of red apple and tonic or used as the base for creative cocktails, Caorunn's range of gins offers an exceptional tasting experience that is sure to captivate gin connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike.
With the end of Edinburgh Cocktail Week 2023, we bid farewell to the delightful libations and captivating venues that have graced our glasses and hearts. As the festival concludes, we eagerly await the promise of next year, when the charming streets of Edinburgh will once again beckon us to explore new concoctions, creating memories that blend with the rich tapestry of this vibrant city. Until then, we raise our glasses in a fond farewell and toast to the anticipation of future cocktail adventures. Slàinte mhath!