I’m a sucker for traditionalism. Whether its cocktails, spirits, bars or restaurants, I just love delving back into how things were originally created, or indeed how they should be created. Take Blackwood’s gin for example, created using hand-harvested Shetland botanicals. A time-honoured tradition that just makes this brand, to me, stand out that little bit more. But to the casual consumer eye, this may mean nothing, especially when it comes to drinking it. But maybe it does make a difference?

Blackwood's Superior Strength 2012
Blackwood’s Superior Strength 2012

Blackwood’s is the world’s only handpicked gin. Local crofters harvest Shetland botanicals each summer, roughly between June and September in proportions that do not disturb the fragile local habitat. This is something close to Blackwood’s heart as the introduction of the harvesting programme to ensure harmony with Shetland’s unspoilt environment was developed alongside the Highland Natural Products, FWAG and the Orkney Agronomy College. After harvesting the 13 botanicals (Wild Water Mint, Angelica Root, Sea Pinks, Juniper Berries, Meadow Sweet, Coriander, Cinnamon, Liquorice, Turmeric, Citrus Peel, Nutmeg, Orris and Violet Flowers), the plants are brought down to the mainland of Scotland to be triple-distilled using small-batch distillation.

Something a little different that you may notice with the photo above, is the word vintage. You expect to see wine’s with various years of vintage on them, but a rarity for a gin to come with the tag. Due to the nature of the Shetland’s with its northerly maritime climate, the conditions vary from year to year meaning that each year’s harvest can create a subtly different gin each time.

So how does Blackwood’s fare then? Well I have been lucky enough to try a couple of their expressions, with my tasting notes below –

Blackwood’s 2008 – 40%

Subtle, smooth freshness of citrus on the nose with a slight spice starting on the palate. Lingering herbal flavours produce a fresh combination with the citrus to create an incredibly long finish.

Blackwood’s 2012 Superior Strength – 60%

A clean nose with subtle notes of juniper and angelica. A developing palate, with a good mix of flavours offering  dry finish.

A fantastic sipping gin, but one that just about makes it if you like to be creative –

Blackwood's Gin Spring
Blackwood’s Gin Spring

Blackwood’s Gin Spring

Glass – 

Coupette or Martini

Ingredients – 

12 Fresh green grapes , plus extra to serve
50 ml Blackwood’s 2008 vintage
A couple of sprigs of dill
20 ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 ml Violette liqueur
A dash egg white


Muddle the green grapes in a shaker. Add the gin, a couple of sprigs of dill, the lemon juice, violette and a dash of egg white. Shake for 10 seconds then fill the shaker with ice and shake again. Strain into a coupette or Martini glass and serve with three green grapes threaded on to a cocktail stick.

A real traditional gin with a unique method that really captivates the Shetland’s, Blackwood’s and its unique botanicals. I’d pick up a bottle of the 2008 vintage before it goes, or indeed just enjoy the new vintages that are being released!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



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