Irish gin is growing in popularity - 4 great distilleries to visit

15th Feb 19 | Lifestyle

Here's where to head for the best botanical hit, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

fresh gin tonic

England has its gin, Scotland has its whisky and Ireland now has the best of both worlds.

Of course, the Emerald Isle is steeped in spirit history, with distillers making the most of the ingredients they have to hand – it was only a matter of time before they embraced the copper still and put their own spin on gin. Indeed, Irish gin sales rose by 44% in 2017 and gin exports trebled to 130,000 cases.

With the rise of craft gin showing no sign of slowing, and Irish small batch gins starting to make waves, we’ve flung open the distillery doors to four gorgeous gins…

1. ShortCross Gin: Rademon Estate Distillery, County Down

The talented team behind ShortCross Gin have created Northern Ireland’s first premium craft gin – a classic gin style with a floral meadow profile, with wild berries and grassy notes. Visitors will be in for a treat: Along with being given a sneak preview of how they harvest some of the botanicals that shape the gin, you can explore how they draw fresh water from the well, distil, bottle and label, and finish with a gin pouring masterclass to savour the gin’s aromatic and long smooth finish. Tour and taste: £20 per adult – includes a £5 voucher redeemable in the distillery shop.

2. Dingle Original Gin: Dingle Distillery, County Kerry

This medal winning distillery first came to our attention with its stash of Irish Whiskey Awards, but its Dingle Original Gin also caught the attention of judges, and won Best Irish Gin 2018. To learn more about all of its spirits (including vodka), you can tour the entire production process as well as sample its top drops. Amongst other botanicals, the gin includes rowan berry, fuchsia, bog myrtle and heather “for a taste of the Kerry landscape.” Tour and taste: 15Euros per adult.

3. Echlinville Pot Still Gin: Echlinville Distillery, County Down

In 2013, Echlinville became the first new distillery in Northern Ireland for more than 125 years, when they started with whiskey, that is still maturing in the cask. Luckily, the distillery doesn’t need the rewards of patience to release Echlinville Gin, which is flavoured with gorse, lavender, anise and seaweed, and has been awarded a coveted Three Star rating at the Great Taste Awards. Also home to Jawbox Small Batch Gin, you can view the copper stills and whiskey warehouse, and end with two drinks in the bar. Tour and taste: £15 per adult.

4. Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin: Glendalough Distillery, County Wicklow

At Glendalough, freshly picked wild botanicals go to the still within hours of being foraged, to be slowly distilled in small batches, to retain their essential oils and capture their delicate floral elements. Beautifully fresh, notes of juniper, citrus and pine make themselves known. To discover more, a One Day Meet The Makers Tour takes private groups of eight and over, and starts and finishes in Dublin. You’ll see behind the scenes, meet some of the major players shaping Ireland’s food and drink scene and sample some famous, friendly Irish hospitality along the way: 150Euros per group.

© Press Association 2019