Only the Irish could name a gin after an old cow. And only in Ireland can you make a gin from shamrock. And honor an Atlantic wave.
The Irish have joined the gin revolution and revival, using anything they can get their hands on – potatoes and champagne (“Muff Liquor Co Gin,” Co. Donegal), Connemara bogbean (“Mical Irish Gin”), furze (“Wild Burrow”), Kilkenny-grown apple (Highbank Orchards’ “Clear Crystal”), sloe (Eoin Bar’s Arderin Distillery in Tulane, Co Offaly), purple sea thrift and Wexford strawberries (“Copeland Irish Gin” from the Blackwater Distillery).
As well as Fuschia (“Dingle”), elderflower (“Thin Gin”), jasmine (“Lisvoke”), lavender (Ha’Penny”), beech leaf (“Glendalough”), cucumber (father and son, Michael and Gavin Clifford’s “Bonac,” Co. Wicklow), flowers from Dublin’s Phoenix Park”), rhubarb grown by the city’s canal (“Dublin City Gin”), frocken berries or bilberries (Brennan’s, Co Laois), gunpowder tea (PJ Rigney’s Shed Distillery, Drumshando, Co Leitrim).
“The place of the springing heifers” produces “Bertha’s Revenge Milk Gin,” named after a Droimeann cow from Sneem in Co. Kerry, who is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest cow on record dying three months short of her 49th birthday in 1993. She had thirty-nine calves. And locals threw her awake! Justin Green and Antony Jackson of Ballyvolane House are the gentlemen behind the gin commemorating cow.
John Henry Watson won a silver spear for his riding skills in 1876 and went on to compose the rules of polo. He is commemorated by “Silver Spear Gin,” made at Ballydarton House, Co Carlow.
Hinch Distillery, south of Belfast, produces “Ninth Wave,” named after the wave that must be conquered if you reach the other world and the place of eternal youth and beauty and home of the Irish god, Mac Lir. “Shortcross Gin” is made by Fiona and David Boyd-Armstrong on the Raemon Estate, Downpatrick. Co Down. They used a local well-watcher to divine their water source.
And what do you have with Irish gin? Of course, Irish tonic water. Oisin David, who worked as a beverage industry consultant, is director of “Poacher’s Well Tonic. “I wanted to create a tonic that has as many Irish ingredients as possible. Locally-foraged rosemary is the main ingredient Oisin teamed up with a friend, Vaughan Yates. Their Co. Wexford tonic is named after a survey map of the area where the spring is located, which dates back to 1825 and features the bottle’s artwork.
Adds David: “There are great pride and goodwill towards purchasing Irish food products in Ireland, and I’m trying to instill that same level of pride for people to also purchase Irish drinks.”
St Patrick, James Joyce, and Oscar Wilde have all lent their names to small-batch artisanal gins. The poet W.B. Yeats is quoted on the bottle of “The Exiles,” which is the only gin in the world to use shamrock. “I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
“Weaver’s,” bottled in Ulster, is devoted to all the men and women who toiled in Ireland’s flax fields and linen mills. It is infused with flaxseed. “Minke,” made by the Scully family at their Clonakilty distillery in Co. Cork is named after Ireland’s whales. “Feckin Gin” is named after a saint or an expression of surprise and disbelief. It is up to you to decide. Belfast’s “Jawbox” is named after the kitchen sink around which, when they are not in the bar, the Irish often gossip and enjoy the “craic.” It uses Belfast mountain heather.
For its field-to-bottle gin, Joe McGirr’s “Boatyard Distillery” at Enniskillen uses sweet gale “fresh from the family bog.” Sweet gale is also known as bog myrtle. “Doc Brown” still is in charge.