Nestled in the heart of the Scottish Borders, Peebles Hydro have launched their own gin, distillery and school – all using their very own spring water.
In 1881, after three years of construction, Peebles Hydro was built to be a hydropathic hotel due to its very own private spring - Shieldgreen. Affluent city dwellers came far and wide for the hotel’s clean water supply and water-related medical treatments. Many of them wanted to retreat from the city pollution. The waters purity became legendary for ‘alleviating’ a wide range of ailments.
Today, the draw is rather different: Shieldgreen now supplies the gleaming copper stills of their very own gin and tonic: 1881 Gin and Tonic 81. Scotland has an abundance of some of the best natural botanicals, so they aim to be as local as possible. They grow lots of Scotland’s natural plants and botanicals down in Peebles, including Scotland’s national flower, the Thistle. All of these are in some way used in each of their hand-crafted gins.
They have created four premium gins including London Dry, Pavilion Pink and Subtly Smoked. The fourth gin, Navy Strength at 57% ABV is stronger than the others at 40%, and is named after the Dutch sailors of the 18th century who were known to drink gin for ‘Dutch courage’ before going into battle. To bring the best out of these premium gins, four tonic waters have also been created – Tonic 81. All using the same water source, these include Premium, Light, Pink grapefruit and Elderflower.
Their Gin School is the largest residential gin school in the UK. From splash to sip, the site of the 1881 Gin School sits on what was once the original hotel swimming pool (a long, long, time ago). Lots have changed since then – these days you’ll find 26 individual copper stills neatly lined in rows and glass jars brimming with botanicals.
Get into the spirit with their 1881 Distillery Experiences. They are not to be missed! A tour can be taken around the distillery, in which visitors can learn all about the history of Peebles Hydro, all things gin and can get up close to the school’s copper still which makes up to 220 bottles of 1881 gin every day. Budding distillers can also indulge in their own unique gin distiller experience, in which they can enjoy a distilling class, creating and crafting their very own gin.