Peebles Hydro turns water into gin


The healing waters of the landmark Peebles Hydro now provide a very different kind of sustenance following the hotel’s opening of a new gin, distillery and school.

The 1881 gin, named after the year in which the iconic hotel opened, uses the same water from Shieldgreen in the hills behind the hotel which has supplied the hotel for almost 140 years. At the peak of the hydropathic movement, it was this water which drew people from all over the UK for its healing properties.

There are four 1881 gins available, including London Dry, Pavilion Pink and Subtly Smoked. The fourth gin, Navy Strength at 57% ABV, is stronger than the others and is named after the Dutch sailors of the 18th century who were known to drink gin for ‘Dutch courage' before going into battle.

To bring the best out of these premium gins, four tonic waters have also been created – premium, light, pink grapefruit and elderflower – again all using the same water source.  

The launch of the gin school and distillery, on the site of what was the hotel’s original swimming pool, makes Peebles Hydro the largest residential gin school in the UK. The school features 26 individual copper stills and glass jars full of botanicals, including those sourced within the grounds of the hotel itself.

A tour can be taken around the distillery, in which visitors can learn all about the history of Peebles Hydro, all things gin and can get up close to the school’s copper still which makes up to 220 bottles of 1881 gin every day. Following the tradition of naming the gin still after the distiller’s daughter, Peebles Hydro 1881 gin still is named ‘Felicity’ after the daughter of Peebles Hydro General Manager, Patrick Diack.

Budding distillers can also indulge in their own unique gin distiller experience, in which they can enjoy a distilling class, creating and crafting their very own mix. The experience doesn't stop there as the school will keep each person’s unique recipe on file – meaning they can reorder their very own gin as birthday presents, wedding favours, or for special occasions.

The 1881 gin has been created by distiller Emma Millar, a graduate from the Brewing & Distilling MsC course at Heriot Watt University, together with Jamie Baxter, owner of Craft Distilling Services. Jamie has worked in the food and drinks industry for around 35 years and in 2017 was named by the Daily Telegraph in their list of the 50 tastemakers changing the way we eat and drink.

Stephen Leckie, Chairman and CEO of Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels, commented: “We’re delighted that our dream of creating a gin school and distillery at Peebles Hydro has finally been realised. We’ve gathered an extremely talented team of experts to make the 1881 gin a reality and I am very proud of the final product.

“Whilst gin is soaring in popularity and distilleries are opening all over the country, what makes our gin unique is that it uses the same source of water from the rolling hills behind Peebles Hydro that made the hotel such a draw for people all over the UK nearly 140 years ago when the hotel first opened.”

Further info

For more information about the 1881 gins and tonic waters, visit:

Photo: The 26 individual copper stills used for the gin school - Peebles Hydro/1881 Distillery

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