Badvo Gin – 400 years in the making

In a glen north east of Pitlochry in Perthshire, something very interesting is happening – again.

Fiona Holland reviews Badvo Gin for Scotland Correspondent magazine

Read Fiona’s monthly column in Scotland Correspondent

A young gin business has been set up by a young owner at a very old farm. The gin is Badvo – the distiller is 23-year-old Helen Stewart.

And both are spirited and fresh, built on years of distilling heritage.

For Helen, a distillery in a barn on her family’s farm appears to have been almost inevitable.

At the age of 18, Helen began working at a whisky distillery and caught the bug. She was interested in all elements of the process from start to finish – and it fuelled her ambition.

I say inevitable, as Helen’s farm has been in her family since 1599 and, in amongst 400 years of records, she discovered a history of spirit production on the property, including a distilling manual dating back to the mid 1700s.

Read the full story and a lot more besides in Scotland Correspondent magazine

Perhaps most extraordinarily, she discovered that her forebears were producing a white spirit based on wild Scottish juniper. She says that the bio-diversity on the farm is amazing, and clearly it always was.

“My family are massive hoarders,” said Helen – I’d say that’s turned out to be quite a stroke of luck.

So, what’s it like, this Badvo Gin?

Good, very good indeed actually.

The distillery began production in July last year, so it’s just a young thing. The sample I tried was distilled and bottled on the same day as it was sent to me – what we’d call in my trade, hot off the press.

On the nose, this is a gin full of fruity high notes, with, I found, a particular nod to both brambles and raspberries. It was a bit like tramping around in the garden picking ripe berries, together with the smell of earth and plants.

While I appreciate drinking neat gin is not for everyone, I’d thoroughly encourage anyone who wants to try Badvo to give it a go – even if you only do it once.

I was expecting more fruitiness, but what I actually got was a sweet, honey flavour with a hint of almonds followed by earthy tones. Quite surprising – while the fruit hadn’t entirely disappeared, it had definitely taken a back seat. It has punch but certainly isn’t brash.

And there was a further turn once it was mixed – I used Fevertree Naturally Light tonic and a sliver of lime. Do not be tempted to over-dilute this gin – it is almost better drunk as a short drink than a long one and the flavours became quite herby, with the sweetness receding to a back note.

What Badvo was, however, throughout all parts of the testing was fresh – beautifully so.

At 45 per cent ABV, you could be mistaken for thinking that this gin may be a bit of bully, but it isn’t. It is smooth, complex, friendly and rather more-ish.

The botanicals, including the Scottish juniper, are all hand-foraged on the farm and include nettles, rowan berries, apples, honeysuckle, meadowsweet and wild mint.

In terms of branding, the bottle itself is quite straightforward, a pretty simple rectangular shape; nothing to dislike and nothing to write home about. But the Badvo logo and labelling are elegant and elevate it. A simple oval with a white heron on a dark background. Its lack of clutter is sophisticated and gives it good visibility.