A local husband and wife team have created Scotland’s first premium gin distilled with hand-picked tea, inspired by Aberdeenshire’s rich history and links to the tea trade.
The Teasmith Gin has been created by Nick and Emma Smalley from Udny Green, who have spent over a year learning the art of distilling to perfect their blend. =
The artisan gin is now being distilled in Perthshire’s Strathearn distillery and a limited first batch of 560 bottles goes on sale this week, in time for Christmas.
More bottles will be produced early next year as Nick and Emma aim to expand across the UK as well as internationally.
Having witnessed, like many, a renaissance of their favourite spirit, the couple wanted to create a premium gin that uses botanicals intrinsically associated with Aberdeenshire, and through research discovered the nearby Newburgh estuary was once a thriving trading port, with tea being one of its biggest imports.
Nick first began experimenting with spirits by creating sloe gin as favours for guests at the couple’s wedding.
He said: “Some of the world’s most notable tea-clippers were built in Aberdeen harbour, some of which played a major role in opening up the important tea trade routes with the Far East.
“But it was the story of a young man from Auchenblae, Aberdeenshire, who founded the first tea plantation in Sri Lanka in 1867 that intrigued us the most. James Taylor, known as the ‘Father of Ceylon Tea’, transformed the island into one of the finest tea growing regions in the world. This little known tale really affirmed our decision to use tea as one of our key botanicals,” Nick added.
After identifying their trademark ingredient, Nick and Emma worked with tea consultant Beverly-Claire Wainwright to source a highly unique tea from Sri Lanka.
The hand-rolled tea from Amba Estate offers something truly different. It is a rare tea that has been developed with meticulous care, using only the finest leaf and bud, to create rich aromatic flavours.
Production is tiny and is made entirely by hand without machinery in the same way that Taylor produced his very first batches of tea.
The black loose leaf Ceylon tea is distilled by itself to capture its unique flavour and is blended with a classic gin recipe featuring juniper, coriander, citrus peels and other carefully selected botanicals which have been double-distilled in traditional copper alembic stills.
The Smalleys believe this carefully curated blend produces a truly unique gin, characterised by its clarity, simplicity and confidence.
“It was the first time the distillery had used tea as a botanical so it was a real step into the unknown,” explained Emma. “The result is in the taste – a sweetness, like that of a high quality tea, with a subtle essence of mint.
“However, the gin doesn’t actually taste like tea - the tea leaves give a unique taste that is light on the palate with a distinct, crisp freshness, one of a kind really. So anyone who doesn’t like tea shouldn’t be put off!
“We’re planning to expand the Teasmith product range to further explore the unique flavours these specialty teas can truly offer.”
Emma and Nick have also worked with a local, internationally acclaimed design studio, FortyTwo Studio, to create a exclusive brand with a distinctively different concept and bottle design – to stand out from the crowd, on shelf and at home.
Nick added: “We have invested significant time and creativity into forming The Teasmith brand and a bottle design that we are immensely proud of. This is a personal passion of ours where we hope to maximise initial demand and produce exceptional infusions to intrigue and grow our customer base and distribution.”
The Smalleys were supported by Business Gateway, after Nick contacted the team about market research when they first came up with the concept.
Emilia Stanczyk, business adviser at Elevator and Business Gateway, said: “We were very pleased to support Nick and Emma through Business Gateway, it has been such a journey to see the development of this idea into a product which is now being created in Scotland, and I’ve no doubt it will be enjoyed by many gin enthusiasts throughout the UK and beyond.”
With interest in this new gin already mounting through a strong social media following and weighty pre-order list, the first batch looks set to be a sell-out.
To purchase a bottle of The Teasmith Gin visit www.teasmithgin.com or buy at selected local retailers, including Inverurie Whisky Shop.