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Scottish Opera launches new gin in partnership with the Biggar Gin Company to mark 60th anniversary

Scottish Opera's 60th Anniversary gin Suonare. (Photo: Susan Castillo)

SCOTTISH Opera has marked its 60th Anniversary by partnering with The Biggar Gin Company to create a new artisan gin called Suonare. Translating ‘to play’, Suonare is a bespoke gin using botanicals inspired by operas in the Company’s 60th Season, in a celebration of artisan craftsmanship and mixology.

Available to order from today, this gin features a red label with die-cut holes which when removed and placed in a music box plays ‘Un bel di’  from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Performed in Scottish Opera’s very first Season in 1962, this was a favourite of the Company’s founder, Sir Alexander Gibson. Combining gin with this unique music box element makes this an ideal Christmas gift. 

Suonare is a London Dry style gin with botanicals chosen from areas that have a strong connection with the operatic world, with oranges from Seville, lavender from France, bergamot from Calabria in Italy, pink peppercorn from South America and adding in the important Scottish connection with nettles from the Borders. The flavours also reflect the international repertoire of Scottish Opera’s 60th Season including Bizet’s Carmen (Spain), Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar (South America), Puccini’s Il trittico and The Verdi Collection (Italy), Bernstein’s Candide and Massenet’s Thérèse (France). The die-cut holes on the label then correspond to the 14 botanicals used in the gin and are listed by the ability to taste the high and low notes of each by matching them with their musical equivalent in the Madama Butterfly aria. Blind tastings were held with Scottish Opera supporters to help refine the flavour of the gin.

Alex Reedijk, Scottish Opera General Director: “We wanted to create something celebratory that our patrons could share in and enjoy, to mark this significant milestone in our history. The choice of a gin was made as a way of creating something that would be representative of our respect for tradition and excitement around innovation, craftsmanship and artistry. We also wanted to partner with a local artisan business which would reflect the heart of our philosophy to tour to communities and bring opera to doorsteps across Scotland. Our search for a distiller with these qualities led us to The Biggar Gin Company, who are equally committed to creating something special. The inclusion of our first ever production Madama Butterfly in the design, along with the flavours representing our 60th Season, is a way of celebrating not only our history but where we are today. We hope that people feel this is a way of joining in our year of festivities either by raising a glass or saving this unique bottle as a memento of our Diamond anniversary – or both!”

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Stuart McVicar, The Biggar Gin Company co-founder said: “We were excited to be approached by Scottish Opera to help create a blend that they felt would best celebrate their impressive 60-year history. When we visited the Company’s production studios, we could see the passion and precision in the artisan skills that go in to the creation of each performance and wanted to ensure we could make a product which would reflect this mix of tradition and innovation. We started off supplying the team at Scottish Opera with a number of different sample gins, connecting botanicals with locations significant to opera. After a number of tasting sessions, we tied this down. As for the gin itself, it could be described as a classic and traditional London Dry Gin which then incorporates citrus-led notes of high limes, orange and lemon, plus Italian bergamot and a gentle element of spice.”

Award winning Glasgow-based creative design agency, Tangent, conceived the concept and designed the Suonare bottle using sustainably sourced materials from Britain. Using FSC approved cardboard for the label, the cap has also been hand-dipped in gold wax to seal the product and avoid using plastics.

The launch of the gin forms part of a year of celebrations for Scottish Opera’s 60th Anniversary. The Company also marks the occasion by committing to bring opera to over 60 communities across all points of the compass around Scotland this Season. 2023 will also see an exhibition held in Theatre Royal Glasgow celebrating the work of the Company’s 60-year history.

Suonare is available to buy from The Biggar Gin Company’s website for £38

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