Anna and Orla Snook O’Carroll were bursting with excitement when I spoke to them recently. Ór, their Valentia Island vermouth was all ready to go. Vermouth is having a bit of a moment around the world, but until now the only Irish vermouths have been made in-house by mixologists.
Ór Vermouth is made from 20 botanicals including plants and herbs foraged by Anna and Orla on Valentia Island. The primary local ingredient is gorse (or furze, whins) which gives coconut and vanilla flavours. Other ingredients include nutmeg, yarrow, orris root, cinnamon bark, star anise, and many more that they don’t want to reveal. “Ór is the golden colour of gorse and the vermouth. The richness of the caramel gives it an amber colour and real depth too. The wine is a Verdejo from the hills of Madrid,” they say.
Anna and Orla are a wife and wife team who moved from the UK, having fallen in love with Valentia. “We arrived like eejits here three years ago not knowing anything and they welcomed us with open arms. The people here are so good, an amazing group of entrepreneurs, people with so many ideas. The vermouth idea gave us a magical opportunity to explore the island. We had jars of various elixirs on every surface.” They got married at the lighthouse featured on the label, where they appear as two mermaids.
They were chosen to join the SuperValu Food Academy, and Ór will be available in local branches from Monday, May 17th, as well as specialist off-licences such as Redmond’s, Celtic Whiskey and Bradleys, for €35 for a 70cl bottle. They are full of praise for the SuperValu Food Academy. “They really did help us out, teaching us all the bits you need to know to get your product on the shelf. They were thorough and the support is still going on now.”
There will be a dry vermouth to follow soon and then a red version.