Isobel Armstrong, Owner of The Secret Garden Distillery, reveals the story behind the brand.

Please tell us more about The Secret Garden Distillery and the story behind the brand.

The Secret Garden Distillery is run by my sister, Imogen, and I. We took over the company around 15 months ago, and it has been a baptism of fire. However, we were so lucky to have such a brilliant product and passionate team that it has made our job easy(ish!). 

The Secret Garden Distillery started as a green space, offering Edinburgh residents an escape from city life. As the garden began to grow, and our nature-first ethos encouraged weird and wonderful plants to take root, we began to look at ways of sharing the magic of our garden further than Edinburgh. And so, the gin was born. We produce the highest quality Natural Scottish Gin, using the botanicals we grow in our garden. We use a no chemicals policy throughout the production of our gins, just nature distilled. Every drop of our gin is produced on site in our copper stills. Our mission is to produce the highest quality of product, where provenance and the planet are at the heart, a drink truly rooted in nature.

Please tell us more about the gin range, as well as the tasting and tours on offer.

We produce a range of gins from floral to citrus based, a mix of London Drys and more contemporary style gins. Our gins are a labour of love and we work closely with our stockists to ensure the best gin is placed with them, because we want our craft to be enjoyed and to succeed. 

The garden is the heart of our distillery. We encourage people to visit and explore, taking time to discover the garden and what it can offer. We run two tours from our distillery. Our Discovery Experience takes customers on a journey through our ‘seed to sip’ process, walking through our gardens, including our rose garden and juniper wood, into our drying rooms, ending in our new sample room which showcases our three copper pot stills. Our Alchemy Experience allows our customers to become the alchemist and produce their own gin, combining distilled waters and base gin to produce a completely unique compounded gin. 

How are you supporting the hospitality industry and encouraging a better future, setting the standards high – in terms of providing high-quality spirits to bartenders, and your commitment to sustainability?

Since taking over, we have transitioned our sales strategy to prioritise the bar industry. We truly believe brands are made in the on trade, particularly through bartender advocacy. This strategy pushes trial for small brands like ours, gaining customer awareness and demand. Because of this, we have put an emphasis on supporting our bar accounts, not only with activations, stand training and incentives, but also by brining as many people as we can to our garden to really showcase who we are. For example, last year we held our 2023 Harvest Party, which is a great event where we invited our local stockists to the distillery to celebrate the harvest of our 2023 grapes. 

For us, it is crucial that we work with the bars. We offer a truly craft product of the highest possible standards, where every gin is a reflection of years of hard work; from the gardeners who planted and nurtured our botanicals, to our harvesters who hand harvest and dry these plants, to our distillers who distil every drop of gin on site, and finally to our production team who lovingly hand bottle, label and package each product. By aligning ourselves with, and supporting, the bar industry, we afford bars the freedom to partner with a smaller brand, unburdened by the constraints often associated with larger brands. We empower them to unleash their creativity by working with premium natural products while also aligning with a brand steadfastly committed to sustainability.