Sam Heughan is beloved for his starring role as Jamie Fraser on Outlander, and has developed quite the explosive fanbase over the years of the series — but what many of his fans may not know is that he also has a rather successful spirits portfolio.
Sassenach Spirits launched with a Scotch whisky (naturally!), followed by a tequila. Now, the newest spirit, Sassenach Gin, serves as a sort of love letter to his Scottish homeland.
Just launched in June of 2023, weeks before the annual Tales of the Cocktail festival, this gin is as delicious on its own as in a cocktail, with flavor notes that include apples, berries, toasted oat, and classics like juniper, pine and heather.
Heughan is of course best known for his Outlander role, and drinking this gin does feel a bit like going to visit him in Scotland – many a fan’s wish, including this one. But buying a bottle of gin is probably a lot more accessible for many of us!
This gin follows up a Scotch whisky and a tequila. “We created a gin that is truly reflective of Scotland’s vibrant and natural botanicals,” said Sam Heughan in an interview. “More specifically, a reflection of where I was born and brought up. All the botanicals, a reflection of my hometown in the south of Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway,” said Heughan who explained that this is a rural area, abundant in unique, fresh ingredients. “Each one was chosen because of its relationship to me and the memories I have of growing up in Scotland,” said Heughan.
The flavor notes in this gin are all inspired by powerful memories of Heughan’s own upbringing and adventures. “We were able to use key flavor notes that are found in the glens, forests, and mountains of Scotland’s agriculture. The gin has clean, fresh, and vibrant notes of wild Scottish apples, blackberry leaf, scot’s pine, and juniper (two of only three of the indigenous conifers in Scotland) that are gently balanced with savory undertones of rhubarb and toasted oats. The floral heather accent evokes the aromatic natural heritage of my Scottish homeland. I remember laying in the flowering Heather, during a hill walk and breathing in its complex perfume,” said Heughan.
According to Heughan, the gin is distilled in Galloway. “Near my hometown! It was important to present something deeply personal and an expression of what I love about the country,” said Heughan.
Each of the spirits in the portfolio has its own story. For example, the whisky is a blend from various casks and distilleries. “I’m a huge fan of single grain, hence the delicious aged addition of our nineteen-year-old organic grain, plus a twelve and nine -year-old malt,” said Heughan. Aged in Madeira cask, it is inspired by the Asian blends Heughan first was drawn to as a new whisky drinker. “I am involved in the everyday process of creating each of the spirits, my kitchen is like some mad scientist’s experimental lab, tirelessly trying and retrying each aspect of the spirits, to make sure that Scotland is embodied throughout the flavors, packaging, and distilling process,” said Heughan.
Sassenach Gin was inspired by the endless array of gorgeous botanicals and natural flavors found in Scotland. “In our gin, there are notes of rhubarb, heather, wild Scottish apples, Scots pines, toasted oats, bramble leaves, berries, and juniper. I could describe each one from my childhood memories or current situation. I grow and bake wild rhubarb in my garden and infuse gin with it, as a personal Project. My mother would make a delicious blackberry crumble, as a child. I love porridge and the nutty flavor of toasted oats. I remember picking wild crab apples as a child to feed the local highland cows and sheep. Walking through the forest as a child, I’d climb the Scot’s pine trees or lay in the Heather when my legs were too weary. Each of these botanicals captures the fresh, balanced, and authentic taste of Scotland’s vibrant wild nature and my beloved homeland,” said Heughan.
Heughan shares he personally loves to enjoy his gin neat, or on ice. However, when told over the course of an interview that I was very much a dirty martini girl, he shared that this gin is quite special in a martini. “The Sassenach Perfect Serve martini would be good, 2 3/4oz gin, 1/4oz dry gin, 2 dash orange bitters, stirred on ice, and a slice of green apple to garnish. I also love enjoying Sassenach in cocktails where the gin can be front and center so the botanicals come through. I raised the ABV to 42% specifically so that the gin could stand up in cocktails, I think a vodka fan would love our gin, for its innovation style process, being non-stewed, clean, and crisp in flavor,” said Heughan
And, of course, gin and tonics. For Heughan, the perfect serve Gin and Tonic is 2 oz gin, a regular “full fat” tonic (about 2-3 oz) also garnished with a slice of fresh green apple. “The apple soaks up some gin and makes a great refresher to bite into. All of these flavors combined, lifted up by simple tonic water, lets you experience the best flavors from Scotland,” said Heughan.
There’s a lot more on the horizon for this spirits portfolio, but Heughan isn’t prepared to spill the beans quite yet. “Right now we’re focusing on the gin launch, which launched in the US on June 15. We’re excited to keep growing the Sassenach Spirits portfolio with our gin, alongside the award-winning whisky and tequila. However, I do want to shine a light on the bountiful larder that Scotland has to offer, and have already started to develop other expressions and can’t wait to share them in the future,” said Heughan.
Sassenach Gin is currently available across the US at select liquor stores, such as Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits.