Below is an excerpt from GINNED! Magazine about Makar Glasgow Gin. Every month, Craft Gin Club members receive a bottle of amazing small-batch gins accompanied by GINNED! Magazine which is full of features about the gin, the distillery and loads of fascinating features.

Makar Glasgow Gin Brand Ambassador David Thomson concocted a series of four cocktails for GINNED! Magazine in the month of January. Below is the Glasgow Distillery Company's tribute to Hogmanay and the Scottish Makar, Liz Lochhead's poem, "View of Scotland / Love Poem", Countdown to the Bells

“Three… two… one… Happy New Year!” From Tokyo to Times Square, Phnom Penh to Piccadilly Circus, people all over the world countdown the last seconds’ march to the New Year. Today, you can follow the tradition hour by hour as global media capture the mark of the New Year in each time zone, watching the fireworks and listening to the thunderous roar. 

In Scotland, the ringing of a bell marks the New Year. The Scots have what is widely recognized as one of the deepest and most festive New Year traditions, Hogmanay. In her poem, “View of Scotland / Love Poem”, current Scottish Makar Liz Lochhead describes the last hours before midnight on Hogmanay. The poem also acts as the inspiration for the Makar Gin cocktail that is the subject of this article. 

Hogmanay is no recent phenomenon. Thought to date back to 8th Century celebrations of the winter solstice in the lands inhabited by the Norse, Hogmanay traditions evolved throughout Scottish history and include lighting sticks (known as Hogmanay) on fire to ward off evil spirits with the smoke, wearing animal skins and beating them with sticks upon entering a neighbor’s house in a plea for a gift of food, and reciting Gaelic poetry while walking around town. 

Gift giving was once a Hogmanay custom as well, a practice that for four hundred years overshadowed Christmas, which is thought to have been unofficially banned in the land and whose celebration did not come back into the popular Scottish mind until the 1950s. The absence of Christmas reinforced the importance of Hogmanay to Scots culture.

Stonehaven fireballs

Although the primary Hogmanay festivities in Scotland take place in Edinburgh - which attracts up to 400,000 partygoers - some of the most curious occur in Stonehaven, a sleepy town on the Northeast coast about 20km south of Aberdeen. For the New Year, as the post-countdown bell rings, locals carrying balls of flammable materials entrapped in wire cages and hooked to three-foot rope set their burden alight and begin walking down the town’s high street swinging the flaming scepters around their heads. 

The tradition is an evolution of centuries of fire burning but which only dates back officially to 1908 when the first written record of the ceremony appeared in the local paper. For decades after that first record, the shooting spheres of flame have twirled down the Stonehaven high street every year becoming more of an official practice after the 1960s. Today, the Stonehaven Fireballs attract up to 12,000 people - more than the population of the town - tempted by the danger and the beauty of flying fire that kicks off at the end of the Countdown to the Bells. 

Countdown to the Bells

25ml Makar Glasgow Gin
1 barspoon apricot jam
2 drops rose water
10ml Lemon Juice
5ml Sugar Syrup

Combine first five ingredients in shaker and shake with ice. Fine strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne. Garnish with edible flowers. 

Food Match: Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese