I told you guys before that I’m taking my blog in a new direction and writing about what I know and love. What do I really love? Gin. All my friends know I’m a gin fanatic. I only ever had my first gin and tonic when I was 22 – but I’ve been hooked since. It was an old boyfriend who told me to first try it and now I’ve become obsessed. So if you want to blame someone for my gin snobbery, blame him!
I’m especially obsessed with Irish gin. Sure, I enjoy a Hendricks and Monkey 47 (when someone else buys it) but my favourite gin has to be Thin Gin. When I first learned of Thin Gin, I thought “Unreal! A gin with less calories, how cool!” Eh, WRONG. The name comes from the creator, Isaac Thin – a Jewish New Yorker who never planned to end up in Waterford. However, he did end up in Waterford and thank God for that because he created a tasty gin along the way. Thin’s history is quite interesting and you can find out more here – but we’re not here to talk about gins I already love.
We’re here to talk about Irish gins that I have always wanted to try and intrigue me. I think of gin like wine – it’s an acquired taste that you develop as you age. In a previous job, I’ve attended a wine tasting but I also got to attend Thin Gin’s launch in Dublin (which left me very merry.) I was a gin fan for two years by this stage but it was at the launch I made a bigger effort to look into gin and in particular gin in Ireland.
Almost every season there’s a new Irish gin launched and every time there is, I want to dive in. On my list there are a few well-known gins that you’ll be shocked to find out I haven’t sampled but there are also some new gins that I’m sure you’re also dying to try.
Special shout to Peter from Blackwater Distillery for a few extra nuggets of information that I’ve included in this post!
And of course drink responsibly!!
1. Gunpowder Irish Gin
First up is Gunpowder Irish Gin. When I heard gunpowder, not going to lie but I thought “Like, for guns?” Yes, I’m a fool – but it’s from gunpowder green tea. I’m a huge green tea fan so when I found out this, it made me more intrigued. With eight botanicals slow distilled by hand in Medieval copper pot stills and four vapour infused botanicals including fresh grapefruit, Gunpowder have carefully crafted their recipe.
Hailing from Co. Leitrim, Gunpowder Irish Gin was created by PJ Rigney who travelled to familiar lands but also places off the beaten track. Through his travels, he ended up in the wild and unspoilt landscape of Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim and created this gin. I’ve been told that it’s delicious on the rocks but also like nectar when served with a simple tonic and cucumber.
2. Mór Irish Gin
I was first introduced to Mór Irish Gin when Aaron Wall talked through different Irish gins on The Late Late Show earlier this year. Mór strives to create a “consistently excellent gin” and do so by using the simplest and purest flavours to craft a “bold gin” that’s “true to it’s botanical flavours.” As you can tell from my inverted commas, I’ve no idea if this is true but it won me over. It sounds like it has a distinct flavour that’s earthy.
Based in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Mór say that their home is more than just a setting but runs through their gin “just as the Slieve Bloom mountain does.” How beautiful does that sound? It’s a place I’m interested in now visiting because of that one line. When I do finally get to sample this gin, I hope I get to taste the green grass.
3. Blackwater No5 Irish Gin
As you know, I’m in love with Thin Gin. Thin Gin is my favourite and there’s no arguing with that. So when I heard that Blackwater No5 Gin was distilled in Waterford, where Thin Gin’s story began, I knew it was going to be added to this list. Each batch of Blackwater No5 Gin is carefully made in their micro-distillery in small amounts from pure spirit, soft local water and fresh botanicals. Not only that, but it’s made surrounded by fresh air – which some say help give it that smooth flavour. On their website Blackwater say that they do everything by hand and eye, which takes longer but they insist that it’s worth it in the end.
Based in West Waterford, the scenic views is the perfect setting for gin making. Imaging waking up at the crack of dawn and seeing a beautiful green landscape in front of you? Actually, do you think I could take a holiday there and help them out? I promise I won’t steal all the gin (just most of it.)
4. Ha’penny Pot Still Gin
Ha’penny Gin is a craft dry gin based on the iconic Ha’penny Bridge. They say that each botanical was specially selected and inspired by the Victorian Walled gardens of the Phoenix Park in Dublin. The botanicals they use include blackberries, lavender, geranium and dandelion flowers as well as traditional juniper and other popular gin ingredients. While I doubt I’ll be drinking this on the rocks, I’m definitely eager to try it with a tasty flavoured tonic.
Based in Kerry (not Dublin, I know!) the gin is named after the well-known bridge constructed in 1816. It was the first pedestrian link to the North and South to Dublin and to this day is marched across by hundreds of people every day. Ha’penny Gin’s label is also inspired from some of the design details found on the Victorian ironwork of the popular landmark – pretty cool, right?
5. Glendalough Dillisk Gin
This is a newbie but a goodie (from what I’ve heard on the grapevine) (that would’ve been a great pun for a wine wishlist.) Lovin.ie praised Glendalough Dillisk Gin while it was on limited release but now it has hit the market and becoming a fast favourite. The seasonal gin is handcrafted using Dillisk seaweed. Like Irish weather, each seasonal gin is different. Thanks to our hormonal weather, this results in a unique taste every time because of the ever changing array of botanicals, berries and fruit.
Created in their Glendalough distillery, it’s part of their ‘Ginteresting’ releases. Right off the bat, I was won over by the bottle’s label design. It instantly made me think of holy water – but a tastier type of holy water. Each season, the distillers spend a week in the wild Wicklow countryside foraging for the freshest and most interesting local botanicals, berries and fruit. This handcrafted gin is sure to bring a different flavour each season – so I guess that means I have to keep trying it every new season.
6. Bertha’s Revenge
What got my attention with this gin is the story – but first, the flavour. Their Irish milk gin is the one I’m keen on trying. Using whey alcohol from the local dairy farmers in Cork, where they’re based, along with their own natural well water and locally grown botanicals, they have created a very special gin.
But who is Bertha? She was a cow, and she was a fantastic cow at that. She was reared locally, and was bought as a calf by a farmer called Jerome O’Leary. When she passed away on New Year’s Eve 1993, just three months away from her 49th birthday, the Droimeann cow had become somewhat of a local celebrity in her hometown of Sneem, Co. Kerry. She gave birth to 39 calves and with this achievement, along with her age, she became famous the world over and earned an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. The team behind Bertha’s Revenge didn’t know the cow personally but a friend of theirs had stumbled upon her wake in the Blackwater Tavern on the day she passed and learned about her. So when they were thinking of a name for their gin, they “wanted to find something that was eye-catching, distinctive and that dove-tailed with the pedigree of what we are working with and what we have set out to achieve. The dairy farming heritage of Ballyvolane, our use of whey alcohol in the gin, and our shared love of the gorgeous and gentle characters that can be found only in Ireland led us back to Bertha.” And so, they immortalised her memory and brought her back in spirit (waits for laughs.)
7. Von Hallers Gin
Alright guys, I’m not going to lie – I was drawn to Von Hallers Gin because of the bottle. Like Gunpowder, the bottle and label are just too pretty not to give this a go. That said, it also sounds pretty tasty. The slow-distilled gin has ingredients including ginger, lemon verbana, halleria and other traditional gin botanicals such as the basic bitch that is juniper (still a goodie though.)
Von Hallers is a collaborative product that takes German grown botanicals and then distills them at the Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo in County Leitrim. Created by physicist, poet and botanist Albrecht Von Haller in 1736, the Göttingen botanical gardens he established still stand today and send their rarest botanicals to Ireland. Doesn’t that sound delicious? I can’t wait to have a taste.
8. Eglinton Gin
Launched just over a year ago, Eglinton Gin has received high praise from people across Ireland. It has yet to hit the east of the country but no doubt it’ll stretch across soon. It’s distilled in small batches with delicate citrus and floral botanicals. The gin’s creators say their gin has a distinctly perfumed aroma with perfectly balanced citrus notes. That sounds just a little sexy to me, I’m sold.
Galway’s premier Irish gin, it’s sold exclusively at An Púcan on Forster Street – so obviously, a trip to the west is going to have to happen.
9. Echlinville Gin
Echlinville Gin is Ireland’s first super-premium single estate pot still gin. That’s a mouthful but it basically means it’s the first high-quality Irish gin. For this reason alone, I’m interested. On their site, they claim that they “truly are producing spirit from field to glass.” Local botanicals including whin bush petals and Strangford Lough seaweed create flavours of the land and sea in this unique gin. You can enjoy Echlinville Gin neat or with elderflower tonic, lemon and mint.
The Echlinville Distillery became Northern Irelands first licensed distillery in over 125 years distilling its first spirit in 2013. They also create whiskey and offer tours in their distillery – again, I’ll need to make a trip out of Dublin to really make the most of tasting this gin.
10. Bonac 24 Gin
I’ve seen Irish celebs like Roz Purcell promoting this gin and, not going to lie, I was influenced (sure I told you before I’m easily influenced.) I then looked up more about Bonac 24 which made me more curious about this gin. It’s ingredients include juniper, angelica root, cassia, coriander, star anise, cardamom, cucumber, spearmint, pear, lemon, bergamot and curacao – all which are illustrated on their label’s botanical bird. The handcrafted gin is said to be expertly balanced, perfectly distilled and bottled with care.
The high quality gin is the first product from a new distillery established in Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow. Father and son duo Michael and Gavin Clifford created their brand after years of discussion between the two on opening a hands on family business. The idea for the distillery came from a passion of Gavin’s and also his time spent working in the drinks industry in New York. After studying in college here in Ireland, Gavin emigrated to the United States where he saw an opportunity to turn a passion of his into a business. But where did the name come from? The father and son sampled many different recipes, but it was the 24th recipe that they agreed on – and so Bonac 24 was born.
And again, drink responsibly – read more on Drinkaware.ie.