We’ve headed to the Emerald Isle to track down the tastiest gins and whiskey, says Sam Wylie-Harris.
St Patrick’s Day celebrations rarely come in small measures, and the roister of music, dancing, feasting – and, of course, the final weekend of the Six Nations Championship – is a great excuse to step up your Irish game and unearth a top drop from one of its craft distilleries.
“There’s a very exciting and lively gin scene which has come about by the number of excellent handcrafted premium gins being produced in Ireland, and the fact bartenders have really got behind the spirit and are concocting extremely delicious cocktail menus,” says Gerry White, founder of Jawbox Small Batch Gin.
“And the growing availability of high quality, interesting and tasty tonic mixers has certainly helped to introduce gin to a whole new and appreciative audience.”
Tellingly, Irish whiskey is right up there as well. It’s the fastest growing brown spirit in the world – proof we’re in the middle of another golden era for the spirit, with people seeking out new and interesting expressions as they become more curious about unique tasting profiles created in recent years.
To raise a glass to the land of the shamrock, here are four spirited reasons (as if you needed any) to join in some Gaelic fun this March 17…
1. Jawbox Gin, £27.99 for 70cl, MasterOfMalt.com
Juniper forward with a bright, citrus, peppery note, 11 botanicals influence this triple distilled gin, including local Belfast Black Mountain heather, angelica, coriander, cassia, cardamom and liquorice root. White suggests serving it with with ginger ale and a squeeze of lime. Or you could try their newly created cocktail, Jawbox Pick Me Up…
Jawbox Pick Me Up
Ingredients: 35ml Jawbox, 25ml honey, 50ml cold-brew coffee, tonic water and lemon peel to garnish.
Method: Half fill a shaker with ice. Combine the coffee, gin and honey and shake vigorously. Strain over a chilled glass filled with ice, top with tonic water and add a simple lemon peel to garnish.
2. Listoke 1777 Irish Gin, currently reduced to £31.95 from £34.95 for 70cl, 31dover.com
It seems apt that we should be imbibing the Irish spirit of ‘greening’ with this fabulously robust gin, with a swooping wise owl on the label. Hand-crafted at Listoke’s distillery in County Louth (they also boast a gin school), an array of traditional botanicals create its bold flavour profile, with juniper leading the line-up, a spicy, citrus centre driven by cardamom and rowan berries, with hints of citrus continuing to the finish.
Enjoy with your favourite premium tonic water and a peel of orange.
3. Glendalough Rose Gin, £26.65 for 70cl, TheDrinkShop.com
It’s safe to say the world of artisan gins has become an extremely fragrant place, and this new release from Glendalough (based in County Wicklow, they also craft whiskey) is an antidote to plain gin – and one you should be seeking out if you love a distinctly floral, but imminently refreshing style.
It’s infused with Wild Rose, Heritage Roses and Damask Roses which make it naturally pink – and utterly delicious. Again, add your favourite tonic, garnish with a slice of lime, and watch the gin turn pinker when essential oils and bubbles collide beautifully.
4. Teeling Small Batch Blended Irish Whiskey, £32 for 70cl, Amazon
The Teelings’ have been busy bringing craft distilling back to the City of Dublin, and are the first new distillery to open in more than 125 years – and where the family’s first whiskey roots were planted more than 200 years ago.
“Our Teeling Small Batch Rum Cask finish broke the mould of what people would expect when drinking Irish whiskey, by being the first to be bottled at 46%, non-chill filtered (it may turn cloudy when water or ice are added) and finished in rum casks,” says Teeling Whiskey co-founder, Stephen Teeling. “It makes for a perfect companion to sip on or enjoy in a craft cocktail, for anyone looking to steer clear of green beer and shots this St Patrick’s Day!”