Glasgow '˜Gin School' stars in National Geographic Traveller

A gin school in The Barras in Glasgow has been chosen as the top place in Scotland for a 'Wild Weekend' by a prestigious global travel magazine.

Crossbill Gin's gin school is one of 35 experiences listed as best Wild Weekends in the UK by National Geographic Traveller.
Crossbill Gin's gin school is one of 35 experiences listed as best Wild Weekends in the UK by National Geographic Traveller.

The latest edition of National Geographic Traveller’s ‘Best of the British Isles 35 Wild Weekends’ lists five places in Scotland in its ‘Best of the British Isles 35 Wild Weekends.

However, Crossbill Gin’s gin school, in the shadow of the legendary Barrowlands, is the only ‘city break’ on the list focussing totally on alcohol - with others ranging from joining an RSPB puffin patrol in East Yorkshire, wild swimming in North Wales to kayaking by moonlight in West Cork.

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Scotland’s other recommended wild weekends are a survival skills course at Skye Ghillies on Skye; learning to drive a pack of huskies at the Cairngorm Sleddog Centre; travelling the 516-mile North Coast 500 route; stargazing at Europe’s first Dark Sky Park in Galloway Forest Park; coasteering involving jumping on and off cliffs and exploring cave off Arbroath with Vertical Descents and visiting Ardnamurchan Peninsula to enjoy the wildlife.

Award-winning Jonathan Engels, founder and master distiller of Crossbill Gin, launched The Hatchery Laboratory & Gin School last summer offering three-hour courses to beginners and gin fans.

Pupils learn the art of using a still to make gin and adding botanicals such as Scottish juniper berries, kaffir lime leaves and rosehips to the mix. At the end of the session they take home a bottle of gin they have made and personalised with a range of botanicals.

Last year Mr Engels moved his distillery from the outskirts of Aviemore in the Highlands to Glasgow to Barras Art and Design, a multipurpose creative hub.

“It’s a great honour to be in National Geographic Traveller, and a double-page spread at that,” said Mr Engels.

“People were curious about what we were doing so I decided to create a Saturday event. Those attending are very, very interested in the back story and how gin is produced, compared with even just five years ago.

“Around 95 per cent of people attending the our Gin School are coming to Glasgow just for that, often to celebrate special occasions.”

Pat Riddell, the magazine’s editor, said: “By all means plan your European jaunts, book your long-haul flights, but in the meantime pack yourself of somewhere for a weekend closer to home and remember what travel’s all about - spontaneity, new experiences and shaking off that wintery state of apathy.

“Your Monday self will thank your Friday self.”