Distillers of Exceptional Spirits

27 Nov 2020
4 min read
Dunnet Bay Distillery – creator of the multi-award-winning Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka – is a magical place. Using local, hand-foraged botanicals to create the Perfect Taste, the distillery produces handcrafted Scottish spirits that celebrate the heritage and provenance of Caithness.

Founded in 2014 by husband and wife team Martin and Claire Murray, Dunnet Bay Distillery is located in the wilderness of the far north of Scotland. The couple are passionate about handcrafting spirits that celebrate the heritage and provenance of Caithness, and pride themselves on using local, hand-foraged botanicals. They hand distil slowly, thoughtfully and passionately to create an exceptional product.

The distillery is most renowned for producing the multi-award-winning Rock Rose Gin, which features a carefully selected blend of local and traditional botanicals. These include juniper berries, rowan berries and sea buckthorn, and many of the botanicals are hand foraged from the local cliffs and forest. In fact, its name comes from one of these botanicals, the Rhodiola rosea (a rose in the rocks), which adds a delicate floral note to the gin.

The distillery also produces seasonal editions of Rock Rose Gin, a Navy Strength Rock Rose Gin (ABV 57%) and Holy Grass Vodka, along with special Limited Edition spirits released throughout the year.

The vodka features the unusual botanical Holy Grass (or Anthoxanthum nitens), once discovered on the banks of the nearby Thurso River by Robert Dick, a legendary botanist from Tullibody who lived in Thurso in the 1800s. A celebration of local produce and ingredients, the spirit is also infused with a carefully crafted vapour of Highland apples and apple juice, to complement the sweetness of the Holy Grass.

Martin and Claire Murray are proud to have received a plethora of awards for their spirits. Most recently, they won the prestigious Scottish Gin Distillery of the Year title at the Scottish Gin Awards 2019. Also in the Scottish Gin Awards 2019, Rock Rose Gin Winter Edition won GOLD in Distilled Gin of the Year and Rock Rose Gin Pink Grapefruit Old Tom won SILVER in Old Tom Gin of the Year. In September 2020, Martin was also named ‘Innovator of the Year’ at the Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland Director of the Year Awards.

Sustainability is at the heart of the business and last year they became the very first distillery to launch fully recyclable refill gin pouches for their collectable ceramic bottles that can be returned to the distillery for recycling via Royal Mail freepost. They have now launched the pouches across their full portfolio of spirits, as well as have unveiled a new ‘Refill Rewards Club’, a monthly subscription service of spirit pouches.

To find out more about Dunnet Bay Distillery and their products, visit their website. Also keep up to date with their latest happenings by following them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


    Distilling Process

    Rock Rose Gin’s precious botanicals are carefully harvested and stored before the bespoke Dunnet Bay Distillers copper pot stills work their magic. The stills, which have been lovingly named ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Margaret’ by the couple, were made by John Dore & Co. Ltd – the oldest still maker in the world. Their two ‘girls’ have been uniquely designed just to create their spirits using a traditional handmade copper head along with botanical vapour basket. This is perfectly suited to the distillery’s small-batch process of 500 litres.

    Martin casts his watchful eye over the whole process, to ensure the flavour, passion and quality people associate with Dunnet Bay Distillers spirits is there for every batch. After distillation, each bottle is then hand-filled, individually wax-sealed, batch numbered and hand-signed before it leaves the distillery. Great care is taken throughout the whole process to ensure that only the very best quality products will leave their wee distillery in Dunnet!

    How to Distil Gin with Mr MacKintosh (The Distillery Apprentice)

    Cocktail Recipes

    Dunnet Bay Distillery has a host of delectable cocktail recipes available online.

    The Perfect Serve 

    Made with Rock Rose Gin – Original Edition, a flavourful and fresh, zesty yet berryful gin that has a long, smooth finish. Martin prefers his Perfect Serve with rosemary to bring out the earthier, more savoury notes of the gin, and Claire enjoys hers slightly sweeter with a curl of orange. Or for the perfect compromise, serve with both!


    • Rock Rose Gin
    • Franklin & Son’s Tonic
    • Garnish: rosemary or orange



    1. Pour 50ml Rock Rose Gin into one of our beautiful glasses.
    2. Add ice and top with 100ml of tonic.
    3. Toast a sprig of rosemary to garnish.


    1. In one of our gorgeous gin glasses add 25ml Rock Rose Gin.
    2. Add ice and 75ml of tonic.
    3. Garnish with a curl of orange peel.

    The Compromise:

    1. Pour Rock Rose Gin & tonic to your liking.
    2. Wrap a curl of orange peel around a sprig of rosemary to garnish!

    A Partridge in a Pear Tree

    A festive cocktail using Rock Rose Gin Navy Strength Gin, this delicious creation incites some holiday cheer for the upcoming advent season.


    • 5ml Rock Rose Gin – Navy Strength
    • 25ml pear juice
    • 5ml lemon juice
    • 5ml sugar syrup
    • ½ rosemary sprig
    • 25ml port
    • apple/pear crisp


    1. Fill a whisky glass and half of your shaker with ice cubes.
    2. Pour the Rock Rose Gin, pear juice, lemon juice and sugar syrup into the shaker and strip the leaves from the bottom ¾ of the length of the rosemary, adding those to the shaker as well.
    3. Shake the mixture well to get all the flavour out of the rosemary, as this complements the Gin’s earthier notes.
    4. Fine strain into the whisky glass and then carefully pour the port on top.
    5. Garnish with the pear crisp and the remaining rosemary laid on top of the cocktail (pinch the herb between your fingers to get that wonderful aroma).