At their micro-distillery just a few miles south of Edinburgh in the Scottish coastal town of North Berwick, Steve and Vivienne Muir distill their award winning NB Gin – a classic London dry style distilled with eight traditional botanicals.
In 2011 keen gin enthusiasts Viv and Steve decided to pursue their personal dream of creating their own gin. By day they worked away at their jobs as lawyers and by night experimented with distilling different flavours in the kitchen of their home in North Berwick using a makeshift still made from a pressure cooker and old central heating pipes. After much trial and error, an outline of a recipe began to form and they felt that the time was right for a serious upgrade to their distillation equipment so they applied for and were granted a distilling licence and purchased a glass desktop lab still, turning their kitchen into an official micro-distillery.
The distillation experiments now picked up pace as they refined their recipe with the help of an enthusiastic panel of volunteers made up of friends and family. They also enlisted the help of the expert taste buds of renowned eighth generation master gin distiller Charles Maxwell, who tasted a number of sample batches and gave them feedback and suggestions. As they moved close to finalising the recipe, they commissioned a custom made copper pot still from renowned London family still manufacturers John Dore & Co. and moved the operation out of their kitchen into their new micro-distillery in North Berwick.
Their final recipe was a blend of eight classic traditional gin botanicals – juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, grains of paradise, lemon peel, cassia bark and cardamom. From their experimental distillates, Steve and Viv had found that their favourite style of gin was the classic London dry and their stated aim soon became to create the perfect London dry gin – lead by juniper, coriander and cardamom spice, balanced by fresh lemon and herbs and warm cassia and black pepper.
The distillation process starts with British neutral grain spirit in which the botanicals are macerated. Distillation is managed with scientific precision, with the runs times to the second, the botanicals, water and spirit quantities measured out exactly. They distill their gin in small 100 litre batches and, after collecting the distillate from the still at over 83% ABV, they cut the spirit down to a bottling strength of 42% ABV with filtered water.
After two years of development, Steve and Viv launched the first batch of NB London Dry Gin in October 2013. It made an immediate impact on the UK’s craft gin scene, with bartenders in Scotland and beyond eagerly adopting it for their gin martinis and more outlandish cocktail creations. Their new venture was soon recognised by the drinks industry. In the 2014 Gin Masters, they earned a silver medal in the micro-distillery category and then, barely a year after the launch, NB London Dry Gin was awarded the prestigious prize for Best London Dry Gin at the 2015 World Gin Awards.
Since then NB Gin has gone from strength to strength, with the pair releasing a special navy strength edition bottled at 57% ABV, which makes an absolutely superb G&T, and even a London dry style citrus vodka, distilled in the same way as a London dry style gin. Without doubt Viv and Steve have created a real modern classic here and a must try for any London dry gin enthusiast.