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Sweetdram Escubac

Edinburgh, Scotland
Distilled Botanical Spirit

Escubac, sits somewhere between gin, aquavit, and herbal liqueurs in terms of flavour and style. It’s inspired by an old Tudor recipe we found for an elixir called Royal Usquebaugh, which originated in England but was later adopted by the French, who renamed it ESCUBAC. The spirit became obsolete in the early 20th century and stayed that way until 2015 when we revived it as a unique, delicious gin-alternative for the modern drinker.

For Sweetdram's Escubac – the only version to still exist today – they first macerate 14 botanicals, including caraway, nutmeg, citrus, and cardamom, in spirit for 72 hours before we distil that mixture slowly on their custom pot still. The clean, intensely aromatic spirit they’re able to capture from the still (thanks to its distinctive helix coil head) is then steeped with raisins and vanilla for a further 72 hours.

Finally, they colour it using arguably the most critical ingredient of the original recipes: saffron. Alchemists in the 16th century, who nicknamed the elixir ‘liquid gold’, believed it embodied the healing powers of the sun – and could even pass them on to the lucky drinker!

The Producer

Sweetdram was founded in 2014 by Andrew MacLeod Smith and Daniel Fisher, who met in 2011 while studying for their Master’s degrees in brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University. After the course, the pair kept in touch to flesh out an idea they had for a modern drinks brand focused entirely on original flavour instead of conventional categories and repetitive trends. In 2014, they started Sweetdram from a tiny but well-designed work space in Dalston, London. The initial concept for the brand was to become the industry's first ‘gypsy’ distillers, who collaborate with various distilling partners around the world to make one off expressions that push categorical boundaries in terms of flavour and style.

The first of these nomadic collaborations resulted in the revival of a nearly defunct botanical spirit called Escubac with the historic Distillerie Combier. Further collaborations with the East London Rum Company and Brooklyn’s King’s County Distillery established Sweetdram as unconventional risk-takers with a drive to create singular, contemporary spirits. These successful projects inspired the move to Scotland—Andrew’s childhood home and Daniel’s home away from home where he lived prior to co-founding Sweetdram—where they established a new production facility in a massive industrial warehouse in Sighthill, Edinburgh.

It is in this immersive, contemporary space that Sweetdram now crafts its innovate liqueurs and spirits using a custom copper pot still with a helix coil head. Additionally, this permanent location has allowed Sweetdram to expand into independent bottling with the launch of a whisky program—the curation of which predates the inception of Sweetdram—using sourced casks matured throughout Scotland.

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