ISLE OF HARRIS GIN, TARBERT (45% abv)

Since launching in 2015, Isle of Harris Gin has maintained a community-orientated ethos at its heart. The 30-strong team are all local residents and every bottle made maintains a touch point with the island, sold only from an online shop and the distillery in Tarbert.

Its award-winning bottle design – the glass rippled like the sands at Luskentyre beach and with an eye-catching azure base – has proved a huge hit.

Loading article content

The gin itself contains nine botanicals including hand-dived sustainable sugar kelp. Juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, cubebs, bitter orange peel, liquorice and cassia bark all feature.

It has pine needles on the nose with fresh citrus notes of orange, lime and grapefruit. "This is a strong gin at 45%, but it is soft on the palate," says Chrissie Fairclough, tastings director of Gin Club Scotland.

How to serve: Add a few drops of Isle of Harris Gin Sugar Kelp Aromatic Water (£20 for 50ml) to suit a dryer palate. An elderflower tonic water is ideal for those who want it sweeter.

£37 for 70cl, harrisdistillery.com

HeraldScotland:

GRANITE NORTH GIN, ABERDEEN (41.9% abv)

It may be a relative newcomer with the inaugural batch only unveiled in October, but Granite North Gin draws on hundreds of years of tradition.

Founder and head distiller Sandy Matheson was inspired by the Highland stories he heard as a child of illicit stills hidden deep in the Cairngorm mountains.

Key ingredients include the requisite juniper alongside grapefruit, lemon, bay leaf and grand fir needles. It is bright and fresh on the nose with a smell of Christmas trees and forest floors.

"The thing that Granite North has cracked is that it has a very round mouth feel," says Fairclough.

For those who know their gin profiles this would fall into the green (juniper forward, piney and fresh) category. A lovely touch is the laboratory tape used to seal the bottles: Sandy's partner Kirstie is a doctor.

How to serve: For a sweeter palate try pink grapefruit or add celery to keep it green and fresh.

£38.50 for 70cl, granitenorthgin.com

STIRLING GIN (43% abv)

The brainchild of husband and wife team June and Cameron McCann, the first batch of Stirling Gin was produced in autumn 2015.

A year earlier the couple had launched the inaugural Stirling Gin Festival. But something niggled: why were there no gins being made in the city which hosted the event?

The McCanns set about trying to create one and it was while walking their dog through the nearby countryside that they realised the vital ingredient was staring them in the face: nettles.

"The handpicked Stirlingshire nettles give the gin its distinctive floral and spicy kick," says Fairclough. "It is a fusion of traditional and local botanicals such as basil, angelica root, orange and lemon peel."

While currently distilled by the Glasgow Distillery Company (known for Makar), production will relocate in early 2018 once new custom-designed premises in Stirling are complete.

How to serve: A lemony tonic would work well for a sweet palate. To keep it dry, try Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic water.

£34.99 for 70cl, stirlinggin.co.uk

THE BOTANIST, ISLAY (46% abv)

As the name suggests, this small-batch, artisanal gin is packed with 31 botanicals of which 22 are hand-foraged on Islay itself.

The Botanist is distilled at low pressure and slow-simmered in a Lomond pot still – affectionately dubbed "Ugly Betty" – which is a process used by the Bruichladdich Distillery to gently coax and release aromatics from the botanicals.

Among the island-sourced ingredients are apple mint, chamomile, mugwort, thistle, gorse, hawthorn, elderflowers, heather and bog myrtle.

"This is where green meets floral," explains Fairclough. "What they are wanting to do is show off the flora of the island. It is moving away from the fresh pine of the greener profile gins."

On the nose the scent is reminiscent of a warm summer's day. As for the taste? It is mellow and easy to drink. "There is a lovely milky softness to it," adds Fairclough.

How to serve: Garnish with rose petals to complement the botanicals.

£33 for 70cl, thebotanist.com

HeraldScotland:

MISTY ISLE GIN, SKYE (41.5% abv)

Brothers Alistair and Thomas Wilson – who launched Skye-made Misty Isle Gin in February this year – have a staunch motto: provenance is everything.

That strong ethos of belonging and community runs through all aspects of their business: each bottle is batch-numbered and hand-signed by Alistair or Thomas.

It is also present in the gin itself, from the juniper berries hand-foraged from wild locations around Skye to the use of spring water from the Storr Lochs that are located only a few miles from their Portree distillery.

Misty Isle Gin contains 11 botanicals including coriander, grains of paradise, orris root, liquorice root, black cubebs, lemon peel, cassia bark and a top-secret ingredient only found on the island.

On the nose are earthy undertones, subtle citrus and oodles of delicious spiced character. "The Chinese cousin of cinnamon is cassia bark," explains Fairclough. "They have really had fun with the cassia. It is a nicely spicy gin."

How to serve: Ginger ale and root ginger. For a festive twist add grated nutmeg or a cinnamon stick.

£34 for 70cl, isleofskyedistillers.com

HeraldScotland:

SEA GLASS GIN, DEERNESS, ORKNEY (43% abv)

Run by Stuart and Adelle Brown, Sea Glass Gin is produced at what is the first commercial distillery in Orkney in more than 130 years.

The spirit is made in a traditional copper alembic pot still, the liquid cut with pure Orcadian water before each bottle is hand-filled, corked, sealed and signed. The couple, who moved to Scotland from Australia in 2014, also make a sister vodka called Into The Wild.

"What you get on the nose with this gin is a bit of fruitiness because they use orange and lemon verbena," says Fairclough. Other ingredients include lavender and mint, giving it an overall profile that is both green and slightly fruity.

How to serve: Drop in a sweet strawberry or add cucumber if you prefer a crisp taste.

£34 for 70cl, deernessdistillery.com

KINTYRE GIN, ARGYLL (43% abv)

Beinn an Tuirc Distillery takes its name from Kintyre's highest peak – which translates as "the hill of the wild boar" – and the beautiful label design features an image of this majestic, tusked creature.

The eco credentials of Kintyre Gin are impressive. The brand can lay claim to being Scotland's first – and currently only – ethically sourced and sustainably manufactured gin.

Located on the Torrisdale Castle Estate, the distillery is housed in a former piggery where the 230-litre still is powered by 99kw hydro-electric scheme. The team is committed to a low carbon footprint. For every case of gin sold, a tree is planted in their dedicated woodland.

Kintyre Gin uses 12 botanicals including locally grown sheep sorrel and Icelandic moss, both unique to the brand, as well as citrus fruits, liquorice and angelica root. "The gin's earthy characteristics come from the sourness of sheep sorrel and a floral aroma from the moss," says Fairclough.

How to serve: Mix with Walter Gregor's tonic water to capture the floral profile. For the sweeter palate, add edible hibiscus flowers.

£36 for 70cl, kintyregin.com

HeraldScotland:

GIN BOTHY MULLED INFUSED GIN, KIRRIEMUIR, ANGUS (37.5%)

Gin Bothy came to life three years ago after Kim Cameron entered the World Jampionships and began pondering what to do with the leftover raspberry juice from her mass jam-making efforts.

Her mum suggested rustling up some gin. Angus-based Cameron uses a 17th-century recipe once popular among bothy dwellers who would sweeten alcohol using fruits, tree sap or herbs.

Gin Bothy continues to create its craft spirits using traditional methods. The annual gin production calendar starts with raspberry and blueberry, then moves into rhubarb, chilli (made from Fife grown capsicums) and Amaretto.

The Mulled variety – also known as Gunshot – is infused with cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. It is Christmas in a glass. "This is a full-strength gin," says Fairclough. "Most gin liqueurs are around 20 to 30 per cent. This is 37.5 per cent, which means it has still got lots of welly."

How to serve: It can be gently warmed like mulled wine. Garnish with oranges and clementines. Or try it on the rocks with ice and a deseeded chilli.

£36 for 70cl, ginbothy.co.uk

Gin 71, with bars in Glasgow and Edinburgh, stocks a wide range of Scottish gins. Visit gin71.com

HeraldScotland:

BACKGROUND: GIN CLUB SCOTLAND

Gin Club Scotland Four years ago Chrissie Fairclough and her husband Simon embarked upon a joint adventure.

Simon, 56, left his job at a whisky company to set up his own gin brand, opening a small batch distillery in the former Persie Hotel at the foot of Glenshee in Perthshire.

With a background in marketing and advertising, Chrissie, 46, initially set up Gin Club Scotland to find out more about the nation's palate. She discovered three distinct styles proved consistently popular: fruity gins, dry herbal gins and slightly sweeter gins.

That research was used to create Persie Gin which is hand-made in a trio of varieties: Zesty Citrus, Herby & Aromatic and Sweet & Nutty Old Tom Gin.

As tastings director for Gin Club Scotland, Chrissie provides staff training for shops, bars, hotels and restaurants. She also runs private tasting sessions and plans to launch an online gin course next year.

It is her goal to break down the enduring myths that surround gin.

"There is a lot of people who still say that they don't know what all the fuss is about and basically gin is gin," she says. "That is wrong – and that is sacrilege."

Some of the biggest misconceptions? "That all gin tastes the same, smells perfumey and that you need a lot of tonic," says Chrissie. "None of those are true."

Visit ginclubscotland.com