You may have already read my Ultimate Orkney Guide. Where I detail all my recommendations for visiting Orkney. I wanted to do a more in-depth review of the different gin distilleries I visited and the Gin they have. First up we have Kirkjuvagr Gin, which is made in Kirkwall in Orkney.
Kirkjuvagr (pronounced Kirk – U – Vaar) is the Old Norse name for Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Isles. There are lots of links to the ancient Vikings in Orkney and the company has wanted to incorporate this into their Gin story and branding. The gin is the project of a husband and wife team and although the first few years the Gin was made in Perthshire before just earlier this month they were able to open a brand new Distillery and Visitor Centre in Kirkwall meaning it will be distilled on the island.
There are 2 standard Kirkjugvar gins and 1 limited edition that you may have seen last year in the Aldi Gin Festival. The gin is made up of many locally grown botanicals, the distillers worked closely with the local agricultural college to identify plants that are native to the area and can be sustainably grown. These include Angelica, Ramanas Rose, Burnet Rose and Borage.
Kirkjugvar is a beautifully delicate gin, with complex flavors. I would say it’s not great neat and is nice with a tonic. We tried it with an aromatic, Mediterranean and an original FeverTree and we think the Mediterranean tasted the best. It is especially delicious with a slice of orange or curl of orange peel. Although there are so many complexities that you could, in fact, add garnishes to your own preference or taste.
The Arch-Angell gin is the Navy Strength or as they describe it the Storm Strength, equivalent. It is the same recipe just bottled at a much higher strength, 57% to be exact. Even though it is the same recipe, the higher percentage allows different flavors to come out. Although it is stronger it is surprisingly much smoother to drink.
The Harpa Gin is a limited edition gin that Kirkjugvar created for the Aldi Spring Gin Festival. It is a different recipe, it is a lighter gin that is easier to drink. I would recommend it with again orange or some frozen berries.
The Orkney Distillery is newly opened in Kirkwall Harbour. In fact when we visited it was only open for 3 days. The distillery is a beautiful building that incorporates a bar, the distillery, bottling plant, and distribution area as well as a function suite. We started the tour by watching a short video about the history and story of the gin. We then went to the distillery area which was a beautiful white area like something out of Willy Wonka. It wasn’t fully set up yet but looks impressive. At the moment there is only 1 distiller, who also conducts the tours of the distillery which is quite impressive. After the tour, we are given a tutored tasting in the bar as well as a gin and tonic to enjoy a perfect serve. It was a good tour for the distillery not fully being up and functioning and from the sounds of it, the distillers have big plans for the future.
There is a shop where you can buy the Gin of course as well as other Gin memorabilia, including the Gin Tap. Which a local farmer makes out of old fence posts and looks amazing! I really want one!
The Tours run twice a day every day except Sunday and it is advised to book them in advance. They are £15 per person which includes your tasting and G and T as well as some money off in the shop. You can also buy the Gin online, and if you sign up for the newsletter you get 10% off!