THERE’s no need to keep it under your hat, because the secret is well and truly out, writes Morag Bootland. Sitting at the base of the Pentland hills, just a stone’s throw from Edinburgh, the Secret Garden Distillery first opened its gates in 2017. Having visited the distillery and its beautiful gardens many times over the years I was curious to discover what new directors Imogen and Isobel Armstrong, who have been at the helm since July 2022, are up to at my local distillery.

The sisters have made it their mission to reveal the garden’s delights to a wider audience and the Secret Garden is now home to a state-of-the art tasting room where visitors can see the stills and sample some of the gins on offer. But there’s more to a visit to the Secret Garden than just drinking gin, as pleasurable as that may be! In order to fully understand Imogen and Isobel’s ‘seed to sip’ ethos you can take a guided tour of the garden.

Juniper bushes in the garden

The botanicals used to make the gin are hand-harvested from the garden, then dried on site before being distilled with the gin. The distillery produces a variety of core gins, along with some special editions.

Sustainability is high on Imogen and Isobel’s list of priorities and their gin contains no artificial sugars, colourings or flavours. They’ve also created a borehole on site so that almost all of the water that they use for distillation and the garden comes from this.

Visitors to the garden can wander amongst the beautiful apothecary roses that are a haven for bees as well as providing the sweet, Turkish delight flavours of the apothecary rose gin. The garden is home to over 600 varieties of plants, including a raft of juniper bushes, a prerequisite for anyone making gin. It is, of course, one of the key botanicals in Secret Garden gin, along with coriander seed and angelica root.

There are lots of areas left to run wild in the garden and pockets of land for nature to enjoy. In the giant glasshouse that houses a bustling cafe, we find lemon verbena that smells like sherbet lemons and a pinot noir grape vine. These form the basis for yet more interesting gin flavours. Back inside the tasting room there’s a gimlet cocktail, sweet and sour and showcasing the lemon verbena gin perfectly. There’s the aforementioned apothecary rose expression, a sweeter elderflower and jasmine, and my favourite the Wild gin. Made using only wild botanicals including nettle, bog myrtle and organic spirit it’s herbaceous, dry and aromatic.

Heading over to the shop visitors can try the latest summer gin created in partnership with The Pear Tree in Edinburgh. This London Dry Gin is blended with botanicals from The Secret Garden and hand-harvested pear blossom from the 170-year-old trees that grow in The Pear Tree Garden.

Speaking about the new gin, Isobel said, ‘From seed to sip, provenance is the true essence of our business, which is why our partnership with The Pear Tree is the perfect pairing. In its famous beer garden, there are two pear trees which still flower and bear fruit each year, our team has hand-picked its blossom to create our latest seasonal gin – a refreshing blend that screams summer nights. As a family business, relationships are important to us and we are delighted to be working with such an iconic Edinburgh brand to launch our Summer gin.’


To find out more information about The Secret Garden Distillery or book a tour, please visit

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