Bute is one of Scotland's most accessible islands, with a 35-minute ferry ride across the Firth of Clyde to the smart Victorian seaside resort of Rothesay, the main town on the east side of Bute. The crossing across the Kyles of Bute from Colintraive in the north is however only 300m and takes a few minutes, landing you in North Bute, which is part of the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area and many visitors take this more scenic route to the island.
Despite its compactness, Bute has varied landscapes, including rolling hills, heather-covered moorlands, and beautiful sandy beaches, which make it the perfect destination for holiday-makers. The island's scents, sounds, and scenery are the inspiration for Isle of Bute small-batch gin, which is crafted in the heart of Rothesay using a traditional copper still. The botanicals used are sourced from across the island and showcase the best of life on the Scottish Isles. Multi-award-winning head distiller and brewer, Simon Tardivel, has worked around the world but fell in love with the island while living there. He was introduced to the team from Glasgow Beer Works craft brewery at an event in 2018, where he met Rhona Madigan-Wheatley and it was after this that they formed a partnership and started experimenting with gin production. Although initially based in Glasgow, Simon traveled regularly to Bute, to forage for botanicals but finally, in June 2020, they opened their Rothesay Distillery, where their beautiful 200-liter copper still now resides. They have a wonderful range of gins, which showcase beautifully all that Bute is about. Their range includes Gorse, Heather, and Oyster Gin, as well as Island and Oaked Gin. As expected, Island Gin is aromatic and herbaceous, offering up to the palate fruity and earthy notes. Simon wanted to create something tropical, inspired by his Aunt's pineapple, mint, and chili salsa and so he recommends this one served up as a French Martini. It's not quite a tropical destination, but given the island's popularity with tourists and its sandy beaches, you can see where the inspiration lies. As a note to Scotland's whisky distilling history, Simon has also created Oaked Gin, which is distilled using aged oak from Scottish Whisky barrels. Whilst most aged gins will age in used oak casks for a varied amount of time, this gin is actually distilled using oak whisky casks and the process extracts the vanillin found in oak. This subtly flavours the gin with notes of vanilla, sandalwood, and pine and has notably a clear rather than caramel hue, common with barrel-rested gins. I'm sure you will all agree, the simple bottles with their colourful artwork are beautiful. Island Gin showcases a painting by Emma Davis - Morning Reflections, Port Bannatyne.