Everything you need to know about one of my new favourite things to do in the capital – the Edinburgh gin cruise!
Did you know you can do a gin cruise in Edinburgh?
You might not. It’s something I only discovered a few months ago when an advert popped up on my Facebook page alerting me to this boozy cruise along the canal. Considering you can mill around Edinburgh quite happily without knowing that there’s even a canal, it did make me think people might not be aware of the gin cruise. And people really should be aware of gin cruises, right?
I’m usually someone who ums and ahhs about stuff before I commit to it but once I saw this advert for the cruise I pretty much booked it straight away, because I thought tickets would sell out fast. The cruise I did is the Summerhall gin cruise and I would definitely recommend it to anyone that 1) likes gin or 2) just fancies doing something a little bit different on a Saturday afternoon.
If you’re looking for other things to do in Edinburgh check out these recent blog posts…
- 15 unusual things to do in Edinburgh: my top picks
- Feeling fancy at the Ivy on the Square in Edinburgh
- Halloween in Edinburgh: spooky things to do in Edinburgh
- Maison de Moggy: my review of the cat cafe in Edinburgh
Otherwise, here’s my guide to the canal boat booze cruise in Edinburgh!
Who runs the Edinburgh gin cruise?
The gin cruise in Edinburgh is run by Summerhall, which I’m a little bit familiar with because of their amazing beer garden – it was one of the first places I went to after the last lockdown was over. Located in an own veterinary school just next to the Meadows in Newington, they run the Courtyard Bar and the Royal Dick, the latter of which I haven’t been to but looks really cool. They even have animal bones and skulls mounted on the wall.
How much is the Edinburgh gin cruise?
The event costs £37.50 per person. It’s not the cheapest event I’ve ever been to but I think it’s good value for money and it was nice to try something a bit different.
Where does the Edinburgh gin cruise start and finish?
It starts in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh. The boat sails up to Slateford where it stops for ten minutes, before turning around and finishing up at its original destination.
What boat is the cruise on?
The boat is called the Lochrin Belle and it’s a beauty. It’s bright purple so you can’t miss it.
How long does the cruise take?
It takes two hours in total. Trust me, it goes fast!
How many gins do you get to try in total?
All the important questions, right? You get to try five gin cocktails as well as the neat version of each gin too. I thought it would be a lot for two hours but they seemed to down alright!
Is it a booze cruise?
It’s not a booze cruise… at least not in the strictest sense of the word. There were certainly a few giggles when this was mentioned during the introduction. If you’re looking for a full-on booze cruise in Edinburgh there are definitely alternative options. This is more of a relaxing, moderately educational event… where you just so happen to get hammered!
What gins do you get to try during the gin cruise?
All the gins you sample during the course of the cruise are Scottish gins, which I thought was a nice touch. And luckily and manager sent an email after the event listing exactly what gins we’d tried, because I don’t think I would have been able to remember of my own accord. That’s why five gins and a pretty small breakfast does to you! Here’s what we tried…
- Downpour Gin with rhubarb soda
- Eenoo Gin with raspberry and thyme cosmopolitan
- Drookit Piper Gin
- Deerness Vara Lavender Southside
- Rule Gin with sparkling lychee
My favourite one was probably the last gin because I liked the lychee mixer so much!
What happens during the Edinburgh gin cruise?
Well, here’s a brief run through on what to expect when you’re on the gin cruise. You all step onto the boat and head downstairs to take a seat. There’s only about 30 or so seats so it’s not a huge crowd. Next, you’re handed the first of the gins to try while the manager Jamie, the person in charge, talked us through the introduction and what to expect.
Next, each of the five gins are introduced, one at a time. For each one you get a neat version and a cocktail made in a little measuring jug. I really liked the storytelling aspect of this – we learned some cool pieces of Scottish history and the speakers really helped to bring the gins to life. You’re free to walk around when there’s no one speaking – not that there’s much room – but you can go and perch outside and grab some fresh air and some photos.
The boat stops half way along the cruise, in the Slateford area. You can step off for five minutes or so and take in the lovely views and get in the way of the cyclists on the path. Next, it’s back onto the boat for the last of the gins and the rest of the cruise.
All in all, I really enjoyed the cruise and would definitely go again!
My tips for the Edinburgh gin cruise
- Eat something before you arrive. I had breakfast ahead of our 1pm cruise but even that felt a bit measly. Make sure you have something to properly line your stomach.
- Get there early if you can. There are limited seats and they’re arranged on the outside edges of the boat, facing inwards. If you’re late you may not get to sit next to your group and might have to sit opposite each other, which isn’t ideal.
- Watch your head. Says the person who is five foot two but still managed to bang her head on the ceiling as I stepped outside the boat. It’s pretty small, so watch out.
- Have some money in your purse. I know, money, who carries that these days? But there is an option to give a tip at the end and it’s nice to have money to hand.
- It was quite strange emerging from the boat at 3pm, drunk. So it’s probably a good idea to go for something to eat afterwards. We headed up to Lothian Road to have burgers at Byron and they did a great job of soaking up all the alcohol.
Do Summerhall run any other events in Edinburgh?
If you enjoyed the gin tour you may want to try some of the other alcohol-themed experiences that Summerhall offer. The good news is: there’s a lot to try!
If you want to learn how to mix your own drinks then head along to the Summerhall Drinks Lab. They have some really cool themed events, one called Coffee & Cocktails and the other one called Rum & Doughnuts, both of which would definitely tempt me!
The Rum Festival – September
Rums, cocktails, and dancing – with over 100 rums to choose from and ten free samples as part of the ticket price. I’ll leave the dancing, but everything else sounds great!
Juniper Gin Festival – October
Held in October every year, it’s positioned as the original and best gin festival in the city. Unfortunately, the festival had to be cancelled this year, but roll on next year!