Lind & Lime Gin is the very first spirit produced by The Port of Leith Distillery Co at our Tower Street Stillhouse. It’s still a couple of years before we’ll be distilling whisky, so we’ve thrown our full and unbridled energy into creating a gin forged entirely from the talent, heritage and industry of Edinburgh and its historic distilling district of Leith.
In everything that we produce, our watchword is ‘balance’. We take a base spirit at 96% ABV and re-distill it with a carefully curated recipe of 7 botanicals to ensure that each of them is working in delicate harmony.
These are the three ones you need to know about:
THE DR. (JAMES LIND)
The marriage between lime and gin was consummated most famously with the birth of the Gimlet, a classic cocktail that first emerged in the early 20th century. However, having established ourselves in Edinburgh’s historic Port of Leith, our inspiration to distil our gin with lime came from much further back in time.
Born in Edinburgh in 1716, James Lind is a relatively unsung hero of the Scottish Enlightenment; a period traversing the 18th and 19th centuries when Scotland became a centre of intellectual and scientific accomplishments.
After some informal medical training at Edinburgh University, he joined the Royal Navy in 1738 as a Surgeons’ Mate, and by 1747 he had become Surgeon of a ship called HMS Salisbury. It was on this vessel that he conducted what is recognised today as one of the first clinical trials ever recorded, which played a significant part in the story of the prevention of scurvy.
We know now that scurvy is caused by a prolonged deficiency of vitamin C, but in the mid 18th century, little was known about this disease that could overwhelm scores of sailors on any one ship. Lind selected twelve sailors on the Salisbury with scurvy, and allocated two men each to six different treatments for a period of fourteen days.
He later recorded in his 1753 book ‘A Treatise of the scurvy’, that the ‘most sudden and visible good effects’ were shown by the sailors eating citrus fruits. While Lind himself missed the significance of this observation, he is recognised for pioneering the concept of a ‘fair trial’, with a preference for observation over theory that set him apart from other practitioners of his era. You can read a fascinating account of his achievements here.
By the end of the 18th century, the Royal Navy was provisioning its ships with citrus fruit, leading to a remarkable health improvement among the sailors. This gave Britain a significant advantage during an era of regular naval warfare, although competing nations soon caught up.
Lime juice was normally preserved with rum so that it could last for the duration of a voyage. In 1867 Lachlan Rose of Leith devised a new method to preserve citrus fruit, by replacing alcohol with sugar. From his factory on Commercial Street in Leith, he launched Rose’s Lime Juice and achieved huge success, selling his product to vessels departing from the harbour, but also finding an enthusiastic market on dry land.
As the gateway to Scotland’s capital city, records of Leith’s history as a trading centre go back to the 14th Century. One of the most valuable commodities to pass through the harbour was wine from France, later joined by brandy, sherry from Spain and port from Portugal. In the 18th and 19th centuries, whisky merchants gradually began to dominate the shore as Leith became Scotland’s national hub for the maturation and export of the country’s national spirit.
Wines and spirits were shipped in barrels, and would be bottled upon arriving into the harbour. This trade required large quantities of glass bottles. The key raw materials for making glass were locally abundant: sand and kelp (a large sea-weed) and the first records of glass production in Leith emerge from the mid to late 17th century. Foreign competition (cheap imports) and unrelenting tragedies stifled the industry’s development until the mid 18th Century when bottle production was established in earnest and seven cones, housing furnaces, were constructed along the shore.
The business was also supported by increasing demand for glass vessels for Edinburgh’s medical community, and a growing reputation for ‘fine crystal and window glass’ towards the end of the century.
It was this remarkable local industrial heritage that inspired us to choose a wine bottle shape for our gin. We’ve also embossed the words ‘Leith Glass Works’ on the base of our bottle, a name that will feature on all the spirit bottles we produce for years to come. While the industry no longer exists in our historic port, who knows what the future might hold.
As you can probably tell by now, we’re fairly obsessed with our local history, and Leith is positively overflowing with it. As the historic gateway to Scotland’s capital city, Kings, Queens, armies and navies have all passed through our port over the centuries, often making a horrible mess of the place on their way.
We wanted a way to tell some of these stories with our gin, and so we’ve created a map depicting 24 ships with historic or contemporary associations with Leith. Some of them just tell us something about Leith in their era. Others have fascinating stories to tell. Click on the pictures below to find out more about them and if you purchase our gin from one of our many retailers, you may find them wrapping your bottle in this map.
Our gin and sherry are also available from retailers across the UK - find your local stockist by entering your postcode on the map below.
Selling our gin and not on our list? Let us know and we’ll add you - firstname.lastname@example.org
View Port of Leith Distillery Stockists in a full screen map