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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Winters

Rock Rose Gin - Original Edition review

In from the northernmost coast of Scotland with a unique botanical

Review Rock Rose Gin - Original Edition

Made in: Dunnet, Caithness, Scotland, by Dunnet Bay distillers

Base: Wheat

Method: Vapor distilled in a copper pot still made by John Dore & Co.

41.5% alcohol/43 proof

Botanicals 18 : Juniper, Rock Rose (Rhodiola Rosea), Coriander, Licorice, sea buckthorn, verbena, cinnamon, rowan berries, european blueberry, rose root, orris root, (7 more unknown - but based on the taste there is some citrus)

Style: Traditional London Dry

This review is for batch 38, of 2019, bottle 511.

Rock Rose comes from the very northernmost portion of Scotland and is named for Rhodiola Rosea, the “Rock Rose.” That plant grows on rocky, exposed cliffs, and in some of the least hospitable coastal areas. That trait made these hardy “rock roses” attractive to those who wished to gain similar strength and toughness by ingesting them - notably the vikings, who felt this particular plant gave them strength for long journeys.

The distiller, a married couple Claire and Martin Murray, tried 55 different distillations, using both local and traditional gin botanicals, before they found the right mixture for their premier gin - the gin uses their namesake Rock Rose, a lot of local berries, and more traditional ingredients. The gin is served up in a white ceramic bottle (something that has become a lot more common recently, although many are faux ceramic) as would have been more traditional before the advent of modern glass bottle production. It’s pretty and distinct with a floral motif.

The distillery also produces a number of special editions, limited edition, and seasonal edition gins.

Tasting notes

First off - let me state this is not a sweetened gin - but one that has a lot of fruit essence in it. Don’t confuse this with a sweetened gin.

This is a very good sipping gin. It’s got some heat, but not too much, and over ice it drinks fairly well without needing anything else, although a dash of orange bitters definitely brought out some slightly sweeter notes.

The nose hits you with floral notes notably cardamom, juniper and rose with hints of ripe berries, and citrus.

The taste of the gin is cardamom first, followed immediately by a good mouthful of a flavor I associate with blueberries in gin, mingleed with a non-defined sharpness I’m told is sea buckthorn (which I’ve been unable to find locally in order to taste it) then a good layer of juniper and rose. It finishes with traces of lime and a hint of cinnamon and anise.

On the palate the gin is oily, tangy, with some sharper edges.


This gin, while good neat I felt would match well with cocktails, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

It was pleasant in a very dry martini, with the essence of the fruit really coming to the fore and melding with the juniper and citrus,, here along with some floral notes. That said, just which vermouth you pair this with will greatly affect how much you get out of it. I used Carpano dry, but am quite sure, after tasting it, that Dolin would have been a better pairing. I can’t quite rate this as an excellent martini gin, but it’s certainly good.

The makers of the gin both seemed to feel that this would be a perfect pour in a gin and tonic either with a sprig of toasted rosemary, or a zest of orange. Both were right - it makes for a good G&T when paired with any of the premium tonics I paired it with. What made it stand out here were the rose, and berries that the gin imparted.

With more complex drinks I actually really enjoyed this one. It was sublime in an Aviation - adding depth and richness to the floral notes that were already present and melding beautifully with the lemon juice. It handled drinks like a Perfect Negroni well, and seems like a natural fit in drinks like a Collins, French 75, and Bees Knees. That said, getting too complex, with drinks like a Last Word, Bijou, or Corpse Reviver would lose some of the finer edges of the gin.


This is another gin that can do everything fairly well. Those who like floral notes and fruit, particularly berries will really like this gin because of the layers of flavor those ingredients impart to the gin.

I can easily see this becoming a favorite gin for some drinkers. It’s got a very nice smoothness, and good flavor, but there is something about it that just fails to make this quite a distinctive gin in my mind.

Flavor profile

spice 2/5

Herbal: 4/5 - This isn’t really herb I’m talking about, but the berry flavors imparted here. I don’t really have a category for fruit.

Juniper 3/5

Floral 2/5

Citrus 1/5

Heat 2/5

Rating (Sipping): 84 - While a good sipper, I can’t honestly say that Rock Rose Original is particularly a memorable gin. It has a good nose, and depth of flavor,

Rating (Mixing) 89 - Mixes very well and is strong in a variety of drinks. High marks here.

Overall rating: 86 - It’s a good overall gin that certainly will appeal to those who like gins floral, or berryful without being sweet.


What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.

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