If ever you find yourself visiting the West Coast of Scotland, be sure to put aside some time to take the boat ride out to explore the lesser known island of the Inner Hebrides, Colonsay.
This tiny island is not only a nature lover's paradise with its moorlands, swathes of stunning sandy beaches and diverse flora and fauna but it is also a place seeped in Celtic lore where an industrious Brownie (a fairy) called Alva, a beautiful red-haired maiden, is hard at work helping Wild Thyme Spirits in the alchemy of turning botanicals into a delicious gin, simply named Colonsay gin original, along with a family of other gins and spirits. Colonsay gin original, a London dry-style gin bottled on the stronger side at 47% ABV has turned its back on the fanfare and noise of other colourful botanical combinations in favour of a purer more classical gin with heaps of flavour. There is piney juniper at the fore which gives the gin a crispness, a complimentary peppery backdrop, a sweetness added by the orange peel and a few other carefully guarded secret botanicals. After all, Alva is not just not going to give her secret recipe away! It's closely protected by a magic cloaking spell. I thought it sounded perfect for a martini and I wasn't wrong. It made a lovely one with a lemon twist bringing it all together. I also opted to recreate their cocktail version of Bees Knees which I made using Colonsay gin (40ml), equal parts of lemon and orange juice (20ml each) and 2 tsp of honey. It was delicious. Alas! I had no Colonsay Honey to get the full experience (produced by the native Colonsay black bees). Do have a look at their website for more inspirational cocktails. A bit about Wild Thyme Spirits... the business was set up by Finlay and Eileen Geekie who upped sticks leaving their home and jobs in architecture and HR behind. They swapped bucolic Oxfordshire for the wilder pastures of the Scottish Hebrides in 2016. In the first year and a half, they pooled their efforts into creating the business and developing their original Colonsay gin. Since then the business has grown to include: • Caith Sith, an Old Tom style gin • Tonn Mor, a Navy Strength gin • Bramble liqueur • Red snapper gin cocktail, an RTD 250ml bottle • Colonsay Vodka • Cigar rum (really, really intrigued!) Quite the family wouldn't you agree? However, the Geekie's vision does not stop here. They also run gin tours and workshops and a Gin Lovers retreat. From Friday to Sunday gin lovers can seek peace, solace and relaxation whilst naturally tasting gin and other culinary delights the island has to offer. As Celtic folklore tells, a Brownie chooses its household and family and sticks with it. It isn't hard to see why Alva has chosen the Geekies. Together this hardworking team have created a business that not only produces good quality spirits but in doing so contributes to the economy, sustainability and health of this Island.