It’s the weekend, so it’s time to say ‘Sláinte!‘ and welcome Orkney Distilling Ltd and their Kirkjuvagr gin to Mess in the Ness!
We welcomed Stephen to our apartment in Kirkwall, who gave us a personal gin tasting experience of Kirkjuvagr and a whistlestop tour of its development.
Kirkjuvagr is ‘unmistakably Orcadian’. Have a watch of their fantastic promotional video (embedded below) will make you both want to visit Orkney and have some of their gin!
For Stephen and his wife Ally, the development of Kirkjuvagr has been immensely quick – having only set up the company this year, the first batch of gin was released in August! As Stephen gave us a rundown of how the development of the gin, branding, and now their plans for a distillery and vistor centre are coming together, we could sense it was a very exciting time for them, as well for a whole wealth of people on Orkney and in the rest of Scotland who have contributed their skills and time to the making of this new product.
Stephen and Ally are keen gin fans, and wanted to develop a gin which was extremely smooth to drink, yet used the rich larder store of botanicals found on Orkney. A variety of Anjelica is grown on Orkney and was said to have been brought to Orkney many centuries ago. It is the defining ingredient of Kirkjuvagr amongst other local botanicals, including Ramanas Rose, Burnet Rose and Borage. It even includes beremeal (a variety of barley) only grown in Orkney and some parts of Shetland. Stephen and Ally also have received major support from staff at the Agronomy Institute which is part of Orkney College UHI. Staff there have grown and handpicked these botanicals ready for the gin-making process.
Stephen and Ally explain more about the name behind the gin:
Kirkjuvagr means “Church Bay” in Old Norse. Back when Orkney was emerging as a seat of power in the Viking Empire, the Norsemen would sail their longships into Kirkjuvagr, which over the centuries grew into our islands’ capital, Kirkwall.
In name, Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin reflects the rich history of our islands and the boldness of those ancient seafarers. In character though, it’s utterly contemporary and has been crafted with the modern, discerning gin enthusiast in mind.
Using solely Fevertree products (my favourite) they have been hosting tasting events with a variety of Fevertree mixers and garnishes to bring out the notes of the gin. We enjoyed a neat tasting of Kirkjuvagr, then added some Fevertree Indian Tonic and added an orange peel garnish.
The peel brought out the citrus notes of the gin immensely well, and I can vouch that it was extremely smooth to drink – the Indian tonic gave it a very clean finish. It’s definitely up there with Caorunn as one of my favorite gins.
I also loved the design of the waves on the label – designed by an Orcadian designer. Even the bottle cap is unmistakably Orcadian – being a Viking compass design. The Vegasir’s power helped the Norsemen find their way. Now Stephen and Ally hope it’ll lead you north on your own epic voyage to discover the home of Kirkjuvagr!
Kirkjuvagr Gin can be bought from the online shop, and at the time of writing, any order gets free UK delivery. If you like gins such as Caorunn and Rock Rose – I would definitely recommend you give this a try. Give your feedback to their Instagram, or Facebook pages!
Many thanks to Stephen for his time and knowledge, samples and goodie bag!