Edinburgh’s city-centre gin distillery will get you in the Christmas spirit

Edinburgh’s city-centre gin distillery will get you in the Christmas spirit – you can take a tour and make your own concoctions

  • Take a break from the Scottish capital’s festivities at the Edinburgh Gin distillery
  • Go on a tour and see the gin-making process – then make your own concoction
  • And of course, when it’s all over head back out to explore the Christmas sights  

So this is chamomile?’ ‘No, that’s elderflower.’ ‘And those are the mini pinecones?’  ‘No, that’s mountain pepper.’ 

My friend Hattie and I are sniffing vials as we prepare to create our own concoction at Edinburgh Gin’s distillery in the city centre.

Head distiller David Wilkinson is on hand to point us in the right direction. Once our tipples are ready to make their way through two mini stills, we join the distillery tour, which includes a fascinating talk on the outlandish history of gin. After meeting Edinburgh Gin’s gigantic gin stills, Flora and Caledonia, it’s on to the tasting.

Edinburgh’s Christmas market lights up Princes Street Gardens in the heart of the new town 

Edinburgh Gin tours start from £10 ( edinburghgin.com )

Edinburgh Gin tours start from £10 ( edinburghgin.com )

Six delicious gins later, Hattie and I are in an exceptionally good mood, and agree this is the perfect way to kick off a festive weekend in Edinburgh.

But could our gins measure up to David’s recipes? The proof, as they say, is in the drinking. While I’ve opted for sweeter flavours, including orange, rose hip and bee pollen, Hattie’s more botanical heavy batch draws an approving ‘That’s nice’ from David.

David Wilkinson, Edinburgh Gin's head distiller, tests a batch

David Wilkinson, Edinburgh Gin’s head distiller, tests a batch 

After stashing our gins in our rucksacks, we head to the Christmas Market and to see how the city is gearing up for Hogmanay.

An hour or so — and several jars of chutney, two mulled ciders and a ceramic bowl — later, darkness has fallen, which means it’s time for one of Edinburgh’s star attractions.

Castle of Light sees Edinburgh Castle transformed by light projections and flames. 

Walking up the Royal Mile, we see the castle walls switch from a Frozen-style palace to a kaleidoscope that later evolves into the Forth Bridge.

Part history lesson, part art installation and part disco, the lights, sounds and billowing fog make this a fun outing for all ages. 

A lot of beer will be drunk in Edinburgh on New Year’s Eve — but I dare say Edinburgh Gin will have a moment, too. And quite rightly so.


Edinburgh Gin tours start from £10 (edinburghgin.com). Two nights for two adults at the Edinburgh Grand start from £252 (lateralcity.com). 

Castle of Light adult ticket £20, Child ticket £12, Family ticket £58 (edinburghcastle.scot). Return train tickets from London to Edinburgh start from £147 (thetrainline.com). 


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