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7 Jun 2024

Meet the Makers: Peter Dignan from Lost Loch Spirits

Meet the Maker: Lost Loch Spirits


My name's Peter Dignan and I'm one of the partners in Lost Loch Spirits Distillery.
We're based in Aboyne on Royal Deeside in Scotland.

We were approached by the National Trust for Scotland to develop the Pink Castle gin.
We worked with them to do the recipe formulation and basically the flavour profiles for the gin to be launched.

We wanted to make a pink gin which was very local to the area, so the main local ingredient we have is raspberries.
All the raspberries we use to give its pink colour and to give its sweetness come from Aberdeenshire.

It's just been developed so we're still working on the pairings.
Again, it makes a fantastic gin and tonic.
For garnish, I think you find often lemon or lime complements the raspberry.
Or you can be slightly middle of the road and just go for raspberry with the raspberry.

With the gin itself, with our locality to Craigievar Castle, it was a really good partnership for us and I think the National Trust of Scotland as well.
For us to work on it as a project was really good.
It just ties it all into the area and it ties it all back to Aberdeenshire and Royal Deeside and slightly beyond.

The Trust has teamed up with five talented local makers to produce the Pink Castle collection of products in celebration of the re-opening of Craigievar Castle.

The creation of the Pink Castle collection was inspired by the reopening of the iconic Craigievar Castle after the 18-month Pink Again conservation project. Here, we speak to Peter Dignan from Lost Loch Spirits, who has created a very special pink gin for us.

Hi Peter, tell us a little about yourself and your business.

My name is Peter Dignan and I am the co-owner of Lost Loch Spirits. We’re based on the outskirts of Aboyne on Royal Deeside. We have made over 40 spirits and liqueurs at the distillery since 2017. These include Murmichan (Scotland’s first absinthe), a calvados, a liqueur called Haroosh (with flavours of whisky, honey and bramble), rums, gins, vodkas and many other wonderful creations.

As well as producing our own products, we also cater for larger, more established brands and organisations.

How did you approach the creation of the Pink Castle bespoke gin?

The pink castle that inspired the gin is our near-neighbour Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire, so we wanted to use botanicals local to the area.

The honey used in the gin is sourced from hives on Royal Deeside. The raspberries and strawberries come from berry farms in Aberdeenshire, and the water used to produce the gin is from an ancient spring in the Cairngorms.

A bottle of pink gin stands on a polished wooden table, with a small bottle of gin to one side and a large gin glass filled with gin & tonic to the other.

What were your initial thoughts when approached to be involved in the Pink Castle project?

It looked like a great project to get involved in and we were over the moon to be working with the National Trust for Scotland. As Craigievar is local to us, the ideas started flowing very quickly about the local ingredients we could use in its creation. We then needed to turn that idea into a liquid!

Could you describe the process of crafting the Pink Castle gin?

We built several possible recipes based on the brief and then ran them on the small research & development stills. The Trust could get involved at this stage so they could be hands-on with the creation of their gin. We created around 12 iterations in a session, which were then supplied for tasting.

Once the final recipe was chosen, we upscaled to either our 500-litre or 2,000-litre still and carried out the production run. The creation of Pink Castle Gin is a two-stage process. Stage one is the distillation, where we create the gin; and stage two is the maceration where we add the raspberries to make it pink. We then move to bottling and labelling, which is all carried out in the distillery.

Describe the final product!

Pink Castle Gin is berry-led with juniper, strawberries and raspberries forming the foundation of the flavour profile. Coriander seed bring in notes of citrus, and the gin is lightly spiced with a black pepper and allspice. Honey and almonds are used in the distillate to create a smooth mouth feel. The gin is lightly sweetened and coloured with raspberries post-distillation.

How did the collaboration between your distillery and the Trust unfold during the creation of the Pink Castle gin?

The liquid and the finished bottle are always a good measure of a successful collaboration – and so our relationship was good! There are always a few curves in the road but that’s what makes a project more interesting.

We don’t normally deal with printers or label design, but we were able to bring in support to accomplish this. The label was designed by another local maker working on the Pink Castle collection, Helen Ruth. It has the castle at its centre and is surrounded by the botanicals that are included in the gin. The bottle is a traditional apothecary shape, partly made from recycled glass and finished with a cork top.

Two bottles - one big and one small - of pink gin are displayed on a wooden bench in front of the pink walls of Craigievar Castle.
Pink Castle Gin is available in a 5cl bottle and a 70cl bottle.

What were some highlights of working on the Pink Castle project?

It was great to work with the National Trust for Scotland as they are such a large organisation that do a lot of great work in Scotland. The Lost Loch brand and ethos is based around history, and the Trust protects and champions Scotland’s heritage – it was a good fit! We look forward to working with the Trust in the future.

Pink Castle Gin is available to buy at selected properties and in our online shop.

Pink Castle collection

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