Scottish gin lovers will no doubt be familiar with the premium Speyside gin, Caorunn; it has certainly had pride of place on our HQ bar for the past five or so years and we take great pleasure in sipping it in a G&T with its recommended apple garnish. Its unusual, pentagonal-shaped bottle stands out proud against the more traditionally shaped vessels, so we must admit an element of surprise when an invite to a new Caorunn bottle design launch pinged into our inbox. Ever-intrigued, we popped on down to The Worship Street Whistling Shop to see it for ourselves.
We descend to the familiar gin haunt just as Caorunn’s kilted gin master, Simon Buley, takes the floor. Samples of the new bottle are dotted about the space and are thankfully still recognisable. Simon explains that they are approaching the ten-year anniversary of the gin and wanted to revamp the design whilst keeping true to the fine spirit’s artisan roots.
The original recipe remains as does the iconic five-point bottle base that celebrates the five Celtic botanicals foraged around the distillery. Design agency, JDO, has slimmed the bottle down to fit behind bar rails and be more practical for bartenders to use. Contemporary labelling techniques were then employed to add gloss varnishing so that the five-point asterisk – the symbol of the brand – is raised against the glass. The asterisk’s prominence has also been assured by its positioning higher up the front. Each Caorunn bottle now also carries Simon’s signature, highlighting that he alone oversees the entire craftsmanship process.
We are comforted by the thought that the liquid hasn’t changed and recognise the functionality behind the change. The embossed asterisk is newly glossy, glowing in the dim light and catching the eye. It’s clearly calling our name so we make our way to the bar and pick up a G&T. Whilst there, we bump into acclaimed mixologist, drinks writer and Co-owner of The Worship Street Whistling Shop, The Napoleon Hotel & Bars and Whisky-Me, who talks us through the cocktails he’s created for the occasion. Caorunn Cooler is a refreshing summery highball made with Caorunn, lemon juice, apple juice and green tea, garnished with a soft sage leaf, whilst Fireside is a shorter serve with Caorunn, lemon juice, ginger juice and apple, topped with a woody honey roasted walnut. Whilst both pleasant, we find ourselves going back to our old favourite – the G&T. Caorunn is crisp, dry and balanced, with feisty botanicals that round off to a clean finish, making a versatile gin that doesn’t disappear when doused with good tonic.
Whilst entering The Worship Street Whistling Shop feeling a tad protective over the bottle, we leave feeling very happy and excited about the contemporary edge Carorunn is developing.