I’ll drink to that – an explosion of interest in Irish gin
The number of Irish gins continues to multiply. The latest count is 22, but that may well have increased by the time you read this article. There will be no less than 14 homemade gins on show in pubs around the country for the second Irish Gin & Tonic Fest which starts next week and runs to July 1st.
A pub simply has to serve one of these Irish gins with a tonic water of their choice. You won’t necessarily be able to buy every gin in your local pub (probably a good thing) but there should be a selection to choose from. You can then vote for your favourite G&T online. To see a list of pubs and gins, see greatirishbeverages.com.
Most but not all of the gin distilleries intend producing a whiskey in the future. Whiskey must be aged for at least three years (the legal minimum) and preferably much longer, so gin, which takes only a few hours to distil, provides much needed cash flow.
That is not to denigrate it; there are some delicious Irish gins being produced around the country. Every gin must feature juniper, but thereafter it is up to the distiller. Coriander is traditional, as is some form of citrus, but every gin has a host of other flavours.
Oisín Davis, the man behind the Gin & Tonic Fest, (and also involved in Poacher’s Tonic water) says: “Gin has exploded. Most of them were aspiring to create whiskey but the figures they are getting from their gins are so impressive, it has taken them all by surprise; they have exceeded what they thought they would do for the whiskey.
“It is interesting that most are using farmed or wild Irish botanicals – they are putting their actual locality into a gin. You wouldn’t get that with other spirits. Arguably they have more Irish in them than some whiskeys.’
“Ninety per cent of gin sales are linked to gin & tonic’, according to Davis.
“With a nice gin and nice tonic, you can have a perfectly balanced satisfying drink, a mix of bitter and sweet and then all the other flavours. It tickles all of the sensations on your tastebuds.”
There is a gin to suit everyone.
“My personal preference is for very juniper forward gins but that is simply my taste; there are fruity gins, herbal gins, floral gins”
Eoin Bara of Mór has been delighted with the reaction to his gin.
“I never expected people to love it as much as they do. We get loads of nice things on Facebook and on social media and customers are really getting behind it.’
I have featured many Irish gins here before, but today I include three more recent entries into the market.
Bonac 24 Gin
A Wicklow gin with herbal aromas, a lovely light fruitiness and an earthy finish.
Stockists: O’Briens; Whelehans; Celtic Whiskey; Higgins.
Mór Irish Gin
From Tullamore, a wonderfully fragrant gin brimming with fresh fruits on the palate.
Stockists: O’Briens, Celtic Whiskey Shop, The Loop.
Boatyard Double Gin, The Boatyard Distillery, Lough Erne
Classic gin with strong notes of juniper, racy citrus and spicy coriander.
Stockists: Musgrave N. Ireland, O’Briens, Celtic Whiskey, The Loop, Belfast International Airport.
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