Today, however, there are several Irish Gins which deserve recognition for being more than just commercial gimmicks or as stop-gaps in Whiskey production. Here’s our pick of the best Irish Gins. Sláinte!
1. Shortcross Gin
First up, Shortcross Gin, which is made at the Rademon Estate Distillery in County Down; Northern Ireland’s first award-winning craft distillery. Founded in 2012 by husband and wife team David and Fiona Boyd-Armstrong, Shortcross Gin has been developed to be reminiscent of the forests surrounding the historic Rademon Estate.
Made with local apples as well as traditional botanicals and water is drawn from the Estate’s Well, Shortcross Gin is fresh, smooth, and contemporary. This craft Gin is made in small batches, and is a pleasing combination of a classic style Gin which regional accents.
2. Bertha's Revenge
Second is Bertha’s Revenge, a Gin which takes its name from the world’s oldest cow named Big Bertha, who lived for 48 years and birthed 39 calves.
Produced at Ballyvolane House Spirits Distillery, an estate near County Cork, Bertha’s Revenge is called a Milk Gin, as it’s made from whey ethanol (whey being a by-product of milk production).
The distillery describes itself as ‘grass to glass’, with the whey ethanol being produced just 30 minutes away. The base spirit is combined with a rather extensive botanical list - notably spices like cinnamon and cumin, which work well with the whey - and distilled. The distillate is then cut with water from the Ballyvolane spring, much like Shortcross Gin.
To taste it has a sweetness and almost creamy texture from the whey, but make no mistake, this is proper Gin through and through. Peppery notes, citrus and piney juniper are all present, too.
3. Boatyard Double Gin
Boatyard Distillery was set up by Joe McGirr, somewhat of a veteran in the Spirits business, having worked previously for Glenmorangie, Moet Hennessey and the London Distillery Company.
In 2016, he launched Boatyard Double Gin, a juniper-led dry Gin which is made using a special double contact method of production (the distillate runs through a juniper filtration system, giving the Gin an even more pronounced juniper flavour).
This relatively new brand is about to launch an Old Tom Gin as well as a Vodka. With such a commitment to producing a ‘farm to bottle’ Gin (they even make their own base spirit on site, something which few of the larger Gin brands can claim), this is certainly one to watch.
4. Blackwater GinBlackwater Gin, made at the Blackwater Distillery in County Waterford, is truly a ‘craft’ Gin. Everything is made by hand and eye; in fact, the team proudly claims that the only automated thing in their distillery is the coffee machine, because life’s too short for bad Gin and instant coffee (something this writer can really get behind).
This brand has bags of personality, as well as history. During the victorian era, Whytes of Waterford was one of the biggest spice importers in the UK, and spices would travel up the River Blackwater to the various great houses in the region. These spices feature as some of the leading botanicals in the Blackwater No.5 Gin range today—it features Myrtle pepper and cinnamon, as well as 10 other traditional Gin botanicals.
5. Gunpowder Gin
Another great example of an Irish Gin which uses ingredients from the old spice route is Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin. Made at the Shed Distillery in County Leitrim, this Gin takes its name from one of the lead botanicals, Gunpowder tea from China. As well as traditional botanicals from all over the globe, Gunpowder Gin also features locally sourced Meadowsweet, linking back to its Irish roots.
Think we’re missing any Irish Gins from our list? Let us know your favourites in the comments.
Cover image: Gunpowder Gin / Facebook (@gunpowdergin)