#1 – Kirkjuvagr, Orkney Gin

Kicking off our gin review blog is Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin created by husband and wife team Stephen and Aly Kemp.   Orkney Distilling Limited was started in February last year and they developed their first product, Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin in the months following and released to the market in August 2016.

“Reflecting the boldness of our Norse ancestors, the clarity of our seas and the purity of our air, Kirkjuvagr is a hand-crafted Orkney gin for the modern, discerning gin enthusiast.”

Kirkjuvagr is pronounced {kirk-u-vaar}. It is the thousand year old Norse name for the Gin’s town of origin, Kirkwall and the name alone immediately connects you to the Orcadian way of life and the botanicals story below takes you even further into its 1000 year old history.  The brand also immediately conjures up the Norse / Viking heritage and delivers a striking bottle to capture your imagination.

As with all gins there is an array of botanicals, but the key one for Kirkjuvagr is the calamondin.  These little citrus fruits are intense once dried and offer a unique and vibrant citrus edge to the spirit that explodes the moment you add a twist of orange peel to your drink. Kirkjuvagr also contains Orcadian grown Ramanas Rose, Burnet Rose, Bere Barley, Aronia, Borage flower, and Angelica to name a few.

The Angelica was grown from seed overlooking Kirkwall Bay (The word Kirkjuvagr literally means ‘Church in the Bay’, and so the growing location is very symbolic of the brand). The seed came from the village of Pierowall on the island of Westray.  Westray was a landing point for sailors coming from the North due to its position on Orkney’s North-Western periphery.    For them to be able to use this within their distillation is fantastic, and offers an important connection to their 1000 year old Viking heritage.

So how does it taste?   Well, that really is the important question and we must say that it went down very well indeed.  It genuinely gave you a feel of the sea, with a refreshing and crisp feel about it.  Sherbert and lemons provided the sweetness and a touch of saltiness brought out the sea.  We did try it with the recommended orange peel to bring out the calamondin fruit and it was great, but we also had a few with lemon peel and some thyme which was equally as refreshing.   Just use your imagination and who knows where it will take you!

Kirkjuvagr has set the bar for other gins to follow in our Gin Review and we’ll certainly be looking out for it on our travels across Scotland.