The Gloss Gin Test

We sip ten botanical-packed IRISH ARTISAN GINS, in the interest of finding one that’s just right …


The explosion in the artisan gin business in Ireland over the last few years has resulted in all sorts of attractive-looking bottles and toothsome tinctures. All gin, to qualify as gin, must be distilled with juniper berries but differ with the addition of various botanicals, which range from elderflower to citrus fruits, to rhubarb grown along the Grand Canal. In this way, the gin industry has much in common with the artisan perfume industry – the small batch production expressed in the single note and botanicals and florals, a carefully crafted image and combines a love of wild flowers, very loosely allied to a love of gardening, or at least, the garden … The result is they look rather nice, almost dangerously so – and you might feel like lining them up rather as you would scent bottles. Bringing a gift of gin as a hostess gift may feel a little odd, but I can think of a few girlfriends who would prefer it over a bottle of wine, though maybe not more than a bottle of Tom Ford. Remember that gin packs a punch, just one or two will do. Using a measure is non-negotiable – none of your sloshing and topping up.

1. Dingle €36.99

A delicious, lip-smacking gin from the Dingle Distillery, with a classic London dry gin character. Distilled in pot stills with a bouquet of botanicals including rowan berry, fuchsia, bog myrtle, heather, chervil and hawthorn. It’s light, floral and refreshing.

2. Shortcross Gin €44.95

Distilled at the Rademon Distillery in Co Down, Shortcross features orange peel and wild clover and has a peppery top note, courtesy of the juniper berries and coriander seeds. Elderflowers provide floral notes, while elderberries taste leathery, with a hint of liquorice.



3. Dublin City Gin €56.95

DCG includes organic rhubarb grown along the Grand Canal in Dublin. Unusually, an Irish milk spirit provides the base for the recipe, which gives an “extra silky finish” (their words). It’s certainly smooth, with no rough edges.



4. Chinnery €54.95

Osmanthus flower, oolong tea, cassia bark, liquorice, sweet orange peel, coriander seed, angelica root, orris root … the list of botanicals goes on in this sophisticated, multi-layered gin which you may buy for the smart bottle alone, but it is a lovely tipple.


5. Ballykeeffe Extra Dry €47.50

Cubeb peppers, elderflower, pink grapefruit and cassia are vapour-infused in a copper pot still. I can get the juniper, of course, and citrus, and some warm spices. If there was a “Christmas” gin, this could be it.

6. Bertha’s Revenge €49.95

Distilled by Justin Green of Ballyvolane House in Cork and named after a long-lived Lady Cow, this this a smooth gin with a milk spirit base, made from whey, the by-product of milk. Yeasts convert the milk sugars into alcohol, which is distilled by hand with 18 botanic to make this hefty, tasty gin with a sense of place.

7. Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin €49.85

You’d have no idea why this gin tastes so zingy, fresh and uplifting until the list of ingredients is revealed – it’s like a Mr Middleton seed catalogue. Caraway, orris, coriander and cardamom are cut with Chinese lemon and kaffir lime and oriental grapefruit. Served with a slice of grapefruit – a potent potager of flavour.


8. Glendalough beech Leaf Gin €52.50

Part of the limited edition “Ginteresting Series” from Glendalough Distillery, this unusual in relies for taste on the soft, downy leaves from the mountain beech around the distillery, which is added to the copper still to create a herbaceous, honey-coloured gin.

9. Thin Gin €36.99

Thin Gin is an Irish dry gin from Anchor Spirits Ireland. The distinctive juniper perfume mingles with orange, lemon and lime as well as Irish-grown botanicals including apple, wild thyme, elder flowers, white clover and tansy.


10. Beara Ocean Gin €50

Fuchsia, kelp from Ventry Harbour, saltwater, coriander, cardamom, angelica root, orris root and citrus, this is Corkman’s Graham Norton’s tipple of choice and we can understand why.


London Dry Gin was created by Dr Franciscus Sylvus, a Dutch chemist, in the 16th century. His original intention was to make an elixir that would cleanse the blood of those suffering from kidney disorders. Sylvus named his creation genièvre, French for juniper. The Plymouth style is slightly less dry than the London style, due to a higher than usual proportion of root ingredients, which give an earthier taste to the gin as well as a softened juniper flavour.

Do try Sipsmith botanical and non-alcoholic “gin” (€42) and zingy non-alcoholic pre-mixed G&T from Marks & Spencer … both good options for the non-drinker or designated driver …

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