World Gin Day is this Saturday, June 9th, so to celebrate, a few new and classic Irish gins. We Irish are certainly playing our part in the explosion of interest in this great spirit. We are coming down with gin. Hardly a days passes without a new brand or flavour being released.
Over the last few weeks I have sampled gins flavoured with seaweed, rhubarb, beech leaf, potatoes and even tea – Barry’s Tea of course – alongside more mainstream flavours such as strawberries, raspberries and a multitude of spices. The one common ingredient is juniper, without which of course, it isn’t gin.
One of the most enjoyable newcomers was An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin (€37 for 50cl.) from Donegal, made with five seaweeds and six botanicals, that hit home with a gorgeous umami edge. New to me was Dublin City Gin (€49.95), subtly flavoured with rhubarb harvested from an allotment along the Royal Canal. It went down a treat served with tonic, slices of ginger and orange peel. Vodka producer Kalak recently released Ornabrak (€49) , a unique and intriguing ‘single malt’ gin made from a base of malted Irish barley.
Glendalough launched its Ginteresting Series at Bloom last weekend, with three gins, made with foraged fruit and leaves; Beech Leaf, Wild Blackberry & Mountain Heather and a more traditional Sloe Gin. All three can be served neat on the rocks, or with a premium tonic water.
Aldi, recently added the delicious unsweetened Boyle’s Raspberry Blush Gin (€25) to their impressive lineup of spirits. Both this and the Boyle’s gin are made by Blackwater Distillery, who are responsible for the very summery Wexford Strawberry Gin (€30).
Dingle Distillery was one of the first to produce an Irish gin, and the Dingle Original (€37) remains a classic of the species; they recommend serving it on the rocks with a wedge of orange and a sprinkling of juniper berries. Shortcross Distillery on the Rademon estate in Crossgar recently took delivery of a new copper still and opened their impressive new visitor centre (pre-booking required). Watch out for their first single mallet whiskey sometime soon, but in the meantime, their gin is a delightful complex spirit, perfect in a G&T.
There are a host of gin-based cocktails, but for a truly Irish gin and tonic, we have our own Irish Poacher’s Tonic, including the Citrus, flavoured with rosemary and orange. Alternatively Schweppes have the 178a range of five flavoured tonics for creating cocktails or simply giving a new twist to the classic G&T.
Gins are becoming more widely available by the day. O’Briens have an expanding selection as do some of the supermarkets. Specialist off-licences such as Mitchell & Son, Celtic Whiskey, Redmond’s of Ranelagh, and many others have an amazing array.
The 32 county Irish Gin & Tonic Fest celebrates its third year from June 23rd – 30th. In 2018 there are no less than 26 Irish gins from every part of the island. Any bar, restaurant or hotel can select an Irish gin to champion for festival week. From the 23rd on, the public can vote for their favourite #IrishGnT on Twitter, Instagram or by posting on the Great Irish Beverages Facebook page. See greatirishbeverages.com for details.