Irish Gin for Paddy’s Day
Known for their Whisky, Guinness and Baileys this may come a surprise to some of you but Ireland is in fact, home to a rich and lively gin drinking scene, and the country is hardly inexperienced when it comes to distilling it too.
Distilling is an ancient art in Ireland- for how long we do not know exactly – but probably just longer than 1,000 years.
Their most popular spirit was poitín (pronounced ‘potcheen’). It is a fiery yet often quite sweet spirit originally distilled from malted barley, though ingredients such as potatoes, whey, treacle, and other fermentable sources were also used.
Poitín has quite the reputation: likened to moonshine (it was in fact illegal from the 1660s – 1997), and was said to have damaging effects when produced by unskilled hands. Yet today, poitín is still popular – a number of artisan distillers, such as Glendalough – are producing excellent versions – and in many ways can be considered a local forerunner to gin.
Growth in Gin:
As we well know the Gin category has been booming in recent years and it’s the same in Ireland. Gin is steadily gaining popularity, with Cork Dry Gin far and away the most popular choice.
Cork Dry leans less towards punchy juniper flavours found in your London Dry Gin, and more towards smooth, subtle sweet notes. Exiles Irish Gin is another Irish style, distilled with locally sourced botanicals ranging from red clover flowers to honeysuckle blossoms and even shamrocks.
But that’s not where Irish gin ends. Distiller Knockeen Hills (though its corporate base is in England) produces an Irish Heather Gin that prominently features the botanical against the smooth backdrop of a traditional, whey-distilled spirit. And Dingle Distillery, one of Ireland’s newest distilleries, producing gin full of local botanicals including; rowan berry from the mountain ash trees, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather for a taste of the Kerry landscape.
Whether it’s served in cocktails or just neat Ireland has some great Gins on offer…so we know what we’ll be sipping this St Patricks Day!