The gin is in
With Ireland among one of the world’s top nations for gin consumption, this humble spirit has definitely been having a moment in recent years. That simplicity is the key to its popularity, as well as the near-infinite possibilities in flavour combinations, writes Doug Whelan
15 April 2019
A scan across the shelf in any bar or off-licence in this day and age is almost certain to reveal multiple gin offerings in all shapes and sizes. Recent years have seen something of an arms race among producers keen to develop the most inventive, the most esoteric, the most left-field flavour combinations.
Behind the selection, the numbers are there to back it up. According to the ABFI, gin exports soared in 2018 to a 211% year-on-year increase. Irish gin experienced growth in the UK, South Africa, Italy and Germany, and is expected to make a splash in Canada next.
Domestically, Irish gin producers are thriving. 56% of gin consumed in Ireland is made here, while there were no fewer than 12 new brands introduced in 2018. Pink gin was one of the success stories of 2018, with more than half a million bottles sold.
Indeed, the market is showing no signs of slowing for 2019. We’re just out of Q1 and already there are a host of new varieties on the market for the spring/summer season.
Back with a bang
From London to Berlin, New York to Vegas, Sydney to Melbourne, Moscow, Capetown, Delhi, Toronto and more, a small village in rural north-west Ireland is gaining global recognition thanks to the immense popularity of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin.
Drumshanbo, located in the wild and beautiful surroundings of Leitrim, evokes a remarkable super-premium gin, slow-distilled by hand with oriental botanicals and gunpowder tea. Now, amid growing sales and that global popularity, it is the proud winner of a prestigious Flaviar Award. Flaviar is the world’s leading online spirits enthusiasts club, and each year awards ‘Best Spirit’ gongs to just five of the 22,000 eligible premium spirits.
This is the first time in the history of the Flaviar Awards that an Irish gin brand has won Best Spirit and claimed the Best Gin title.
The news bodes well for the Drumshanbo village, where The Shed Distillery already employs 30 people. In response to the win and predicted resulting growth, owner PJ Rigney says he plans to grow to at least 50 employees next year.
Just in time for Easter, Dalcassian Wines & Spirits has launched an incredible Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin gift pack which includes a superb premium gin glass, designed in the same style as the Drumshanbo’s stunning blue bottle. This one-of-a-kind glass and is set to be a collectors’ item for ginthusiasts.
The limited-edition glass pack comes includes a 500ml bottle of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin and the special glass for the excellent value RRP of €38. It was launched at Prowein, the World’s largest wine and spirits fair, with orders instantly rolling in from markets from across the world! As always, The Shed Distillery prioritises the home market, so Irish retailers will be the first in the world to have these packs on shelf.
Limited edition treat
The iconic Bombay Sapphire gin has launched a new limited edition, Bombay Sapphire English Estate. This quintessential gin is inspired by the English countryside that surrounds the home of Bombay Sapphire: Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire, England.
Bombay Sapphire English Estate captures the essence of the English garden, providing a uniquely refreshing and authentic taste, perfect for long, relaxing afternoons al fresco. In achieving this unique expression, Bombay Sapphire’s master of botanicals Ivano Tonutti balanced locally sourced penny royal mint, English rosehip and hazelnut. They were delicately suspended over the spirit in perforated copper baskets during distillation, gently infusing their aromatic flavours into the gin as they were released. The result: an unmistakeably English gin, full of earthy flavour and the freshness of the English countryside that inspired it.
Bombay Sapphire English Estate is available from May 2019. Each 70cl bottle comes in a gift box with a discount to visit Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire, the Home of Bombay Sapphire.
Serve long with freshly squeezed lemon juice, tonic or ginger ale, lots of ice and a sprig of mint to capture the true essence of refreshment and the English countryside.
For more information, contact your Edward Dillon representative on 01 819 3300.
Silky old town
Inspired by the city and county of its origin, Dublin City Gin is an Irish handcrafted gin with carefully selected botanical, distilled London dry style. Irish Milk Spirit provides the ideal base for the recipe giving the extra silky finish loved by aficionados.
The recipe for Dublin City Gin was conceived by two friends who decided Dublin needed its own hometown gin. Through slow refinement, the botanicals were reduced to a core of just seven. By design, less was indeed more. The result is a smooth and genuinely lovely gin that includes Dublin-grown rhubarb.
The DCG Company was established in 2016. Since then, it has been acclaimed for quality and taste as a multiple gold winner both at home and abroad, most recently Best European Craft Gin 2018. In total the brand has won more than 20 quality and taste medals including 10 golds with two best in class.
The select batch ‘Dublin Cut’ – limited to 600 bottles – is deliberately smaller than most. This is because everything at Dublin City Gin is hands-on; everything from scratch, so it has to be just right, every time.
The grand plan for Dublin City Gin is to bring full production home, including an exciting visitor centre to the heart of the city. The next objective is to find a building with character to renovate in the local community – an old townhouse or vintage industrial unit; something with a little history to revive and restore. A place, a home to build a new craft gin industry and bring the Dublin City Gin dreams alive, to make something that simply “tastes like more”!
Pushing the limits
The creators of Brockmans are of the view that gin can be something more exciting, different and delicious than the traditional brands. With that in mind, they set out to explore new possibilities in taste and push some boundaries to see just where this versatile spirit could go.
Brockmans set out to be different; a new style gin with a recipe that goes beyond juniper into more avant-garde territory. Something distinctive that shakes well with new mixers to create exotic cocktails. In their quest for new experiences, consumers are increasingly looking for interesting flavours and sensations and Brockmans delivers.
Brockmans is smooth with a soft, fruity character derived from the carefully selected botanicals used in distillation. Italian juniper berries provide pine, lavender and camphor notes. Spanish lemon and orange peel add zesty citrus. But the unique use of dried wild blueberries and blackberries are what gives Brockmans its most distinctive flavour.
For cocktails, the smooth taste of Brockmans works exceedingly well in a Martini with a dash of vermouth and a twist of lime.
To make the perfect G&T, pour a good measure of Brockmans Gin over four/five ice cubes, topped with chilled premium tonic. Garnish with a twist of pink grapefruit peel and two fresh blueberries; this combination of acidity and floral notes combines beautifully with Brockmans’ botanicals.
The best of Ireland
Made using no fewer than 22 “hand-foraged” local botanicals, berries, barks, seeds and peels as part of a slow distillation process, The Botanist is a progressive gin that embodies the very nature of its home, the remote Scottish island of Islay. The result: a complex and distinctive gin.
In an age of “re-badged” industrial gins, the Botanist stands out as a truly artisanal, small-batch, hand-crafted labour of love and distiller’s art, described as “a breath of botanical Islay in every glass”. This first and only Islay Dry Gin is a rare expression of the heart and soul of its remote home.
The Botanist is available in O’ Briens, Celtic Whiskey Shop, Tesco Ireland and selected independent stores.
Meanwhile, heading south, The London Nº1 is a unique gin. That singular character is borne out of its quality ingredients as well as the distillation method (using small batch pot stills) and the bottle’s very design. The highest quality Suffolk and Norfolk grain is used in distillation of The London Nº1, while the small batch “pot still” method ensures a consistent quality. Finally, the inclusion of 12 carefully selected botanicals makes The London Nº1 a gin to be savoured. In line with the classic gins of yesteryear, juniper, coriander and angelica feature in the recipe – the first two botanicals imparting fragrance and spiciness whilst angelica, together with orris root, give body and structure to the other botanicals.
The London Nº1 is unique in that it also has a final fusion of bergamot oil in the mix – the instantly recognisable perfumed aroma in Earl Grey tea.
This unique gin is available in Tesco Ireland, SuperValu, Bradleys, and selected independents.
As for the latest Ireland’s gin scene has to offer, look no further than Graham Norton’s Own Irish Gin, which celebrates the popular broadcaster’s West Cork heritage along with his award-winning flair for perfection.
For Graham Norton’s Own, West Cork’s favourite son has joined forces with Barry & Fitzwilliam to launch two varieties, Graham Norton’s Own Irish Gin and Graham Norton’s Own Irish Pink Gin.
Graham Norton’s Own is distilled by West Cork Distillers, using 100% Irish grain along with a combination of 12 botanicals.
Both varieties celebrate the beauty and unique flavours of West Cork, while the shape and bottle design contribute to a gin as unique as the man himself!
- For the ideal serve, fill a glass with plenty of ice and swirl around to cool the glass. Add 50ml of The Botanist gin. Top up with elderflower tonic and garnish with a wedge of lemon and a sprig of thyme.
- Fill a balloon glass with ice. Gently swirl the ice to cool the glass. Then gradually add The London Nº1 and four parts tonic water for each part of gin. Do so slowly so the bubbles remain strong. Flavour with an aromatic lime peel and add some juniper berries.
- Graham Norton’s Own Irish Gin – Enjoy with Indian tonic water, lashings of ice and fresh lime to garnish.
- Graham Norton’s Own Irish Pink Gin – Enjoy with Indian tonic water, lashings of ice and summer berries to garnish.
Hitting the mark!
Sling Shot Irish Gin is distilled and bottled by Lough Ree Distillery at its micro distillery in Lanesborough, Co. Longford. A truly authentic and unique Irish product, Sling Shot is the end result of a multi-stage production process, involving four separate distillates, which are carefully blended and diluted to a bottling strength of 41.7 % ABV.
A distillate of classic gin botanicals forms a robust base, to which a citrus distillate is added, bringing fruity notes, a fresh mint distillate creates a freshness and pleasant mouthfeel, and finally a distillate from local peat. Lough Ree is the first distillery to distil peat into its gin, delivering a unique earthy, and an unexpected sweet taste for Sling Shot. Marrying these four unique flavours creates a bold and fresh contemporary Irish gin.
Sling Shot Irish Gin draws its name from the demise of the legendary Queen Maeve, struck by a blow from a Sling Shot from the Longford shore as she bathed at Inchcleraun. Such a feat required dedication, skill and a measure of confidence, but also a willingness to push the boundaries of what is possible – all qualities that are reflected in Sling Shot Irish Gin.
Lough Ree Distillery is a small, rural microdistillery with massive ambitions and a crystal-clear vision of bringing to the world, the finest, most highly-regarded Irish spirits from its hometown of Lanesborough. Validation has come in the form of three significant International awards for Sling Shot Irish Gin: a Great Gold in the Catavinum World Wine & Spirits competition, a Silver Medal awarded by the American Distilling Institute and, most recently, a Bronze Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. By any standards this is a remarkable feat for a newly launched product.
The ambition is further demonstrated by the investment in a state-of-the-art distillery and visitor centre, currently under construction across from the micro distillery in Lanesborough. It is scheduled to open in spring 2020.
Sling Shot Gin is distributed by the Celtic Whiskey Shop and a growing list of nationwide wholesalers including Counterpoint, JC Kenny, Barry & Fitzwilliam and Drino. For further information, contact email@example.com.
Where the roses grow!
To make this very special, small-batch expression, Glendalough Rose Gin completely rebalanced its wild gin recipe and redistilled it with extra fruit, flowers and spices and, of course, a lot of fresh rose petals!
Three varieties of rose are used; the rare and elusive Wild Rose from the Wicklow mountains, large fragrant Heritage Roses and the ancient prized Damask Rose all come together to make this naturally pink and very floral gin. Given the delicate ingredients (i.e. rose petals), it is distilled even slower and more gently than before, with vapour distillation playing a bigger part in extracting those essential oils and flavours.
After distilling, it is further infused with even more roses to deepen the flavours and of course the lovely pink hue. This is not “just another pink gin” – far from it. The depth and complexity really needs to be tasted to be understood. The liquid is floral, fragrant and flavourful, the result of extensive experimentation with plants, fruit, spices and flowers.