Four young women, from different parts of the globe, were brought together over a shared passion for gin.
The craft distilling scene has been gaining momentum around the world, and in order to kick-start their careers, Caitlin Quin, Emily Postlehwaite, Margaux Huismann, and Erica Macasso hailing from Scotland, England, the United States, and Canada, respectively, sought education at Heriot-Watt University.
These women were 4 of 9 women that pursued Master’s Degrees in Brewing and Distilling Science at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and created a team project, deemed ‘The Spirited Botanists’ that allowed them to gain industry experience alongside coursework and tutorials.
Edinburgh Gin Distillery was a clear choice for the project as Edinburgh Gin is a local distillery in collaboration with the university to form a ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’ (KTP). With the help of Annie Hill, professor and supervisor at Heriot-Watt, and botanist Anna Canning, they were able to team up with David Wilkinson, head distiller at Edinburgh Gin.
Together, the team designed a gin with locally foraged Scottish botanicals, to fit the appointed seaside theme for the distillery’s specialty summertime release. With undergraduate degrees in fields of biology, microbiology, biotechnology, and chemistry this degree and project attracted these women as a way to blend their scientific knowledge with creative and artistic applications in the beverage industry.
After many trial distillations and tests the final product was created- Edinburgh Gin’s Seaside Gin. Seaside botanicals were selected for their unique flavour and aromatic properties. The unique botanicals consisted of ground ivy, scurvy grass, and bladderwrack seaweed which provided the gin with a sweet, minerally, slightly peppery flavour.
The gin was released to the public on the 13th of June, 2015 for World Gin Day at the Edinburgh Gin Distillery and at the Juniper Festival at Summerhall. “The gin went over famously and there were a lot of people excited about the release,” said Macasso of Pickering’s Gin.
The Seaside Gin was originally set to be a limited release of 350 bottles. However, sales and demand were so high that the Seaside Gin was kept on production throughout the summer and 3500 bottles were produced! Edinburgh Gin’s Seaside Gin is now a permanent fixture in the company’s range.
The gin was a complete buzz on social media winning the 2015 Scottish Craft Distiller’s Social Media Award. The Seaside gin was also mentioned on Buzzfeed’s- ‘19 incredible Scottish Spirits that aren’t Whisky’, the Press & Journal’s ‘9 Gins of Scotland you simply must Try’, and The Spirits Business- ‘Top 50 Spirits Most Innovative Spirits Launches of 2014-2015’.
The Spirited Botanist’s Project was a success by the hard work put in at the University and Edinburgh Gin distillery. The industry experience that the team gained by working with an established company within the Knowledge Transfer Partnership was invaluable. Not only did these women gain industry experience, they had the chance to take and turn an idea into a successful reality through the Knowledge Transfer Partnership.
Today, Quinn is the head distiller of Eau Claire Distillery - a craft distillery in Calgary, Canada. Postlethwaite has joined the team at Chase Distillery in Hereford, England, Macasso has used her extensive knowledge of gin at Pickering’s Gin Distillery in Edinburgh and Huismann is pursuing her Ph.D. in the chemistry of Dry Hopping at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling.
This is an exciting time for the craft of distilling, and these Heriot-Watt students couldn’t have been more grateful to have been in the heart of it. The Spirited Botanists Project is continuing into its second year and will continue as a legacy at Heriot-Watt University.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Gin Guild. Any examples of analysis recited within this article are only examples. They should not be utilised in real-world analytic products as they are based only on very limited information. Assumptions made within any analysis are not reflective of the position of the Gin Guild.