Rock Rose Gin by Dunnet Bay Distillers: Award-Winning Botanical Spirits That Won't Break The (Bottle) Bank
Dunnet Bay Distillers is the UK’s most northerly mainland distillery, based in the spectacular bay of Dunnet in the far north of Scotland. The distillery is most renowned for producing the multi-award winning Rock Rose Gin, which features a carefully selected and put together creation of local and traditional botanicals. Each one meticulously chosen for their flavour properties to create the perfect taste. They also produce seasonal editions of Rock Rose Gin, a Navy Strength Rock Rose Gin (ABV 57%) and Holy Grass Vodka, along with special Limited Edition spirits released throughout the year.
Sustainability is at the heart of the business and in 2019 they became the very first distillery to launch fully recyclable refill gin pouches for their collectable ceramic bottles that can be returned to the distillery for recycling via Royal Mail freepost. They have now launched the pouches across their full portfolio of spirits and a new ‘Refill Rewards Club’, a monthly subscription service of spirit pouches.
Boroughbox’s editor, Louis, spoke with Martin and Claire Murray, Founders of Dunnet Bay Distillers and Rock Rose Gin, to find out all about the distillery and Rock Rose Gin, how it all started and how they adapted during lockdown.
What inspired the founding of Dunnet Bay Distillers?
Martin: I’ve always been passionate about brewing and distilling, having studied it at university. So, it’s always something that’s been at the back of our minds, but the decision really came when we started to look at how we could spend more time together as a family. I had been working offshore in the gas and oil industry for a number of years and we have a young family, so something needed to change.
Claire: The inspiration was really our unique environment in the Scottish Highlands. We are both from Caithness originally, which is in the far, far North of Scotland, and we are surrounded by an amazing abundance of botanicals, along with the freshest air and water, that we thought could work brilliantly in a spirit. Gin was the obvious spirit, as it’s long been my go-to drink!
How has lockdown / the pandemic affected you?
Martin: During lockdown we obviously had to close the distillery tours and shop. We adapted by focusing on our website and ecommerce platforms that we work with and introduced the refill pouches. These have been a massive success, but it’s been really difficult for our on-trade partners and we look forward to working with them again.
Claire: Once restrictions began to lift, we worked really hard to come up with a safe visitor experience concept. We knew we couldn’t continue to offer our usual tour experience so we came up with our unique Boat Sheds for seating, which hold two visitors and are safely distanced. We redesigned our entire visitor area to fit with the theme and allow our visitors a real experience – we were busier than ever when the restrictions lifted last summer!
What is your proudest moment in Dunnet Bay?
Martin: I was delighted to win the award for Director of the Year at the Institute of Directors Scotland Awards. To be the first UK distillery doing a freepost, return fully recyclable refill pouch was quite something and I am immensely proud that we did that.
Claire: We were over the moon to win Scottish Gin Distillery of the Year and Best Distilled Gin at the Scottish Gin Awards in 2019. Scotland has so many wonderful gins and gin distilleries, and it was a testament to our team that we won both awards. The success of our Refill Rewards Club is also extremely satisfying and I love reading the lovely comments from our happy members.
What is your favourite kind of gin?
Martin: Rock Rose Gin Navy Strength – it makes a cracking negroni!
Claire: I’m sticking with our Original Edition Rock Rose Gin, it will always be my favourite.
We thoroughly enjoyed our chat with Martin and Claire and promptly poured a little G&T as soon as we could. If you're looking for a little ginspiration, head to our Gin Collection or browse 10% off* our Picnic Collection featuring everything you need for a perfect alfresco gin 'o' clock.