Ardshiel’s Gintyre pairing feast

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By Mark Davey

Gin is infusing the world of spirits with passion and next week Campbeltown hosts the inaugural Gintyre festival.

When Niall Macalister Hall launched Kintyre Gin through Beinn an Tuirc distillers, last June, he promised to organise a festival.

Less than a year after setting the still to work the festival is here from next Friday to Sunday.

Gin is a simple spirit to produce without the long cycle of wine or whisky but the secret is in the infusions of botanicals.

At Cadenheads’ tasting, next Friday from 3pm, there will be six gins on offer and applying whisky logic some are cask aged spirits which are not yet bottled.

It should be possible to give the liver a rest before the Ardshiel hotel’s three course tasting dinner at 7pm that evening.

Ardshiel co-proprietor Marion McKinnon said: ‘There will be a gin on arrival and three gins during the meal, and we still have a few tickets left.’

Saturday’s headline event: The Gin Festival, features many major producers including Kintyre Gin, Old Raj, Harris Gin, Avva Gin, Lussa Gin, North Ballahulish hotel’s Pixel and Colonsay’s Wild Thyme, Arran Gin, Uisge Lusach from Skye.

It is  in the town hall from 1pm to 5pm giving the morning for a long lie after Friday’s exertions and the sun, if it appears, should be well over the yard arm.

The ticket price includes a taster from each producer and two complementary drinks, from the cocktail bar, plus a chance to talk to the makers.

There is a break until 7.30pm when the evening kicks off, back at the town hall, with one of Scotland’s leading jazz ensembles, Rose Room. There will also be a gin bar stocking bottles from all Gintyre producers.

Sam will play it again when Campbeltown Picture House, fresh from its official opening on Thursday evening, features the ultimate gin palace in wartime black and white, the  classic Casablanca.

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman star in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: an American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

For many perhaps the highlight of the weekend will be a free Beinn an Tuirc Distillers Limited visit, including a free sample of the award winning gin, at Torrisdale Castle also on Sunday with bookings through the website.

Visitors will be able to see the former piggery building, housing the still, on the castle estate has been in the ownership of the Macalister Hall family since 1872.

It is powered by a  99 kilo watt hydro-electric scheme giving Kintyre gin unique eco credentials.

Mr Macalister Hall said: ‘We are also fully committed to reducing our impact on the environment and pledge to plant a tree, in our dedicated woodland area, for every case of Kintyre Gin sold.

‘Kintyre gin is a classic London dry gin using traditional and unique botanicals. Kintyre gin offers a delicate juniper, citrus and floral spirit with a warm spice to finish.’

For more information go to 

Neil Macalister Hall, Su Black and Eilidh Maxwell with the German Muller still. 25_c22kintyregin01