Bar Talk: Tulchan Gin
If you’re a big fan of Scotch whisky, then chances are you know of the Speyside region in Scotland.
Speyside is one of the most famous regions for whisky in Scotland — named after the River Spey, which winds through it — with 50 distilleries producing malt whisky, the most well-known being Glenfiddich and Glenlivet (two distinctly different distilleries — don’t confuse them for the same!).
But Speyside doesn’t just distill well-loved whiskeys; the region is also home to multiple gin distilleries, including Tulchan Gin.
A small-batch gin, Tulchan is crafted at the Tulchan Estate — a swanky and private membership-based sporting club — that lends not just its environment, but also its grouse mascot to the gin. But on the gin bottle, it trades a hunting rifle resting on its shoulder for a set of Scottish bagpipes.
Unlike its more famous Scottish gin counterpart — ahem, Hendrick’s — Tulchan Gin is made in the London Dry style, meaning all its natural botanicals are added during the distilling process, not after.
The botanicals featured in Tulcahn Gin include juniper, of course, as well as flora that can be found growing on the estate such as blackberry leaves, white asparagus, elderflower, and sloe berries (visually like a blueberry but with a tart and tangy taste).
The result is a crisp and strong, 90 proof/45% ABV, juniper forward gin. It’s not cloyingly sweet and definitely has an initial bite to it, specifically when sipped neat, perhaps thanks to the tart sloe berries.
It’s not a gin that I would reach for to enjoy simply over ice, and I also wouldn’t look to pair it in an overly herbal or earthy drink. Instead, and I know it sounds weird, I think this gin is meant to be consumed in a cocktail and really shines in a gin and tonic.
In fact, the recommended drink from the brand is the Tulchan and tonic along with a 50|50 martini.
It’s rare that I am in the mood for a martini, although I agree that this gin would suite a martini well, but I’m always in the mood for a gin and tonic.
According to the distilleries cocktail advisor, Salvatore Calabrese, the perfect Tulchan and tonic is 3 parts tonic to your choice of 1 to 3 parts gin and best served garnished with a wedge of orange.
I consent that a slice of orange would enhance this G&T nicely; however, I went for a slightly different citrus approach and squeezed half a lemon in with the two parts gin and three parts tonic and also garnished with a slice of lemon.
Once mixed with tonic (I used the QMixers Spectacular Tonic Water), the tangy bite of the gin melts away, and the notes of citrus are accentuated. It’s crisp, not overly fragrant, has a natural sweetness, and all together is just a refreshing and well-balanced gin and tonic that I would happily consume.
It seems that Tulchan Gin, which won a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2023 along with earning a score of 95 at the Tasting Panel, can be likened to Beefeater in that it’s a solid London Dry style gin that would be a great addition to any classic gin-based cocktail. Some extra bonus points over Beefeater are given to Tulchan on bottle design — it’s a vibrant blue featuring the grouse mascot and the Tulchan tartan etched into the side.
Unlike its more famous Scottish gin counterpart, ahem Hendrick’s, Tulchan Gin is made in the London Dry style, meaning all its natural botanicals are added during the distilling process, not after.