Dunnet Bay Distillery is a magical place that is famous for making the multi award-winning Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka, which are inspired by and embody Caithness, its unique cultural and natural heritage, and its people. In 2019, Dunnet Bay Distillery won Distillery of the Year at the Scottish Gin Awards. Its Visitor Centre is a 5-star VisitScotland attraction, recognising it as one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions.
Founded in 2014, by husband-and-wife team Claire and Martin Murray, Dunnet Bay Distillery, the UK's most northerly mainland gin distillery is located on iconic Lands’ End to John O’ Groats and North Coast 500 tourist routes. This craft distillery is famous for producing the acclaimed Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka, featuring hand-foraged botanicals sustainably sourced from the spectacular cliffs of the Pentland Firth, Dunnet Forest or grown in the distillery's own herb garden and geodesic dome. Working with the oldest still makers in the world the distillery’s bespoke pot stills, Elizabeth, and Margaret, were uniquely designed just to create Dunnet Bay’s hand-crafted spirits. Using a traditional handmade copper head along with botanical vapour basket, it is a small batch process of 500 litres. This ensures tremendous care can be applied to achieve best results. Each bottle is filled, individually wax-sealed, batch numbered and hand-signed before it leaves the distillery.
Dunnet Bay Distillery is a small, but first-class brand located in the tiny, remote village of Dunnet. This independent family-owned business provides much needed employment in a fragile rural economy. The distillery currently employs 16 staff members to create and market its multi award-winning spirits and promote tourism in Caithness. This has all been achieved without external investment, crowdfunding and with no previous experience of, or connections with the drinks industry. In 2021, this was recognised nationally when Dunnet Bay Distillery was named one of the UK’s CoolBrands by a panel of independent experts.
In April 2018, the distillery opened its new Visitor Centre comprising Shop, Tasting Room and special events space all housed within a restored 20th century cattle-shed with a retro vibe designed by Claire Murray. Martin and Claire Murray are both passionate about the heritage of Caithness and the interior of the Visitor Centre uses Caithness stone and local wood to create a stunning venue for the visitor experience showcasing local vernacular architecture and artisan materials. The Visitor Centre at Dunnet Bay Distillery promotes the unique heritage of Caithness and encourages exploration through its guided tours, tutored tastings, and special events programme. Within 6-months of opening, the Visitor Centre secured a highly sought-after 5-star rating from VisitScotland, which is highly unusual but highlights not only the quality of the distillery visitor facilities and experiences but also the exceptional level of customer service delivered by its staff. Dunnet Bay Distillery is a TripAdvisor 5-star attraction, holding a Certificate of Excellence for consistently great visitor reviews. It is currently 1 of only 3 VisitScotland 5-star attractions in Caithness. A recent TripAdvisor review labelled Dunnet Bay Distillery as a ‘Tip top tastic’ visitor attraction.
The name Rock Rose Gin comes from one of the 18 botanicals used to make the spirit – Rhodiola rosea – commonly known as the rose root. Master distiller Martin discovered Rhodiola rosea growing along the Caithness cliffs on his first botanical foraging trip. The rose root gets its common name from the wooded root of the plant which has earthy rose aromas that add a delicate floral note to the gin. According to legend the Vikings from Norway who settled in Caithness from the mid-9th century AD onwards harvested the rose root to give them the strength and endurance which they needed especially during the summer months when having planted their crops on their farms they sailed off in their longships on raiding, trading, and fishing expeditions and to colonise new lands. This makes a drink of Rock Rose Gin a little bit of history, myth, and magic in a glass!