Meet the Maker: David Wilkinson, head distiller, Edinburgh Gin

Q: Where do you work?

A: We have two locations in Edinburgh – our visitor centre and distillery is located in the heart of Edinburgh at the west end of Princes Street and offers tours, tastings and a gin-making experience; and, following an increase in demand for Edinburgh Gin, a second distillery was opened at The Biscuit Factory in Leith.

Q: How long have you worked on Edinburgh Gin and how did you start?

A: I’ve been here since 2014. I graduated from Heriot-Watt’s Brewing and Distilling course in 2013 and started here on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between the university and Edinburgh Gin.

Q: Describe the Edinburgh Gin production process.

A: Created by hand, we have two 150L stills for our seasonal products and a 1000L still for the original Edinburgh Gin. The two stills are shaped differently: one is an alembic still, the other a more traditional column. This allows for numerous techniques to be employed and many different types of gin to be made, should we so wish. We use both maceration and vapour infusion techniques depending on what works best for each individual botanical.

In Edinburgh Gin we use a unique blend of 14 botanicals, including lavender, pine buds, mulberries and cobnuts. Orange peel, lemongrass and lime peel contribute lively citrus notes.

Our Seaside Gin was inspired by the east coast beaches near Edinburgh. Originally made with foraged shoreline botanicals, it was the first of the collaborations with Heriot-Watt University’s Brewing and Distilling MSc course. We sourced marine plants, including scurvy grass, ground ivy and bladderwrack, to create a gin with distinctive minerality.

Inspired by Edinburgh’s rich naval heritage of cannons and the famous one o’clock gun, our Cannonball Gin is a Navy Strength gin that gives a nod to Edinburgh’s seafaring past. Cannonball is 100% proof, with twice the juniper content of our classic Edinburgh Gin, and the Szechuan peppercorns adding a spicy note.

We also launched our fruit gin liqueurs, which include elderflower, raspberry, plum and vanilla, and rhubarb and ginger. For these, we infuse Edinburgh Gin with fruits that have been previously macerated in pure sugar cane and bottled at 20% ABV.

Q: What’s a typical working day like?

A: Varied! Usually a combination of running the stills, doing the necessary admin work, analysis/development of new products and engaging with customers at the visitor centre.

Q: Describe the Edinburgh Gin range.

A: We like to make sure each gin stands out in its own right. One thing they have in common is we always try to make sure our gins can be enjoyed neat, which means a pleasant aroma, smooth mouthfeel and lasting aftertaste.

Edinburgh Gin – a classic London Dry-style gin with a nod to Scotland in its recipe, which includes native plants and botanicals.

Seaside Gin – inspired by the beaches near Edinburgh, this London Dry-style gin contains foraged shoreline botanicals creating a gin defined by juniper, soft salinity and sweet notes.

Cannonball Gin – a punchy but balanced Navy Strength gin, it is defined by strong juniper and lemon flavours, finishing with spice.

Q: What would you say sets Edinburgh Gin apart?

A: There are very few brands that put the same time into product development as we do. We do multiple miniature distillations followed by extensive sensory analysis and only bottle the gin once we’re sure the recipe is absolutely right.

Q: What one fact should bartenders know about Edinburgh Gin?

A: Our gins have full and complex flavours. When working them into cocktails it’s better to accentuate the flavours of the gin rather than drown them with other ingredients.

Q: What’s your favourite part of the job?

A: Product development. Analysing every botanical and every sample closely to make sure the gin has the perfect flavour and aroma balance.

Q: What’s your favourite way to drink Edinburgh Gin?

A: It depends on which one, but I tend to have a minimalist approach and let the gin flavour come through so not too much tonic in a G&T and only a tiny dash of vermouth in my Martinis.

Q: What’s your career highlight so far?

A: Cannonball winning IWSC Gold.

Q: Who do you admire in the industry and why?

A: There are several distilleries in the SCDA (Scottish Craft Distillers Association) producing excellent spirits (not just gin) on a craft scale that I really admire.

Q: How do you relax outside of work?

A: Good weather – running. Bad weather – baking cakes.

Q: If you could invite anyone for a drink who would you ask, where would you go and what would you drink?

A: Well my mam has always wanted to climb Arthur’s Seat so perhaps next time she visits I’ll take a bottle up with us to toast the occasion. Since we’ll be looking out over the Forth, I think Seaside Gin would be appropriate.

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Edinburgh Gin Martini


50ml Edinburgh Gin
10ml Belsazar Dry Vermouth
4 dashes orange bitters
Orange twist to garnish


Add all the ingredients to a tall glass and stir.
Strain into a Martini glass.
Garnish with an orange twist.