Our wine connoisseur, Raymond Blake, and his blind taste testing panel sample some Irish gins 

Call me a cynic, but I think the time has come for a moratorium on the use of terms such as ‘small batch’, ‘hand-crafted’ and ‘boutique  distillery’ when referring to gin production. They are sprayed about with such abandon that they have ceased to have any impact or meaning. While we are at it, a similar interdict should apply to all the hokum tales about a gin’s genesis, with which back labels are now littered. That’s it, rant over.

This was a fascinating tasting, not the easiest perhaps, but worth doing to keep
abreast of the burgeoning number of new gins, with which the market is now flooded. The best examples exhibited a proper spread of flavours across the palate, rather than one ‘look at me’ hit. They were balanced and integrated and never harsh, relying on texture as well as taste to make a lasting impression. Above all, that lack of harshness, coupled with an impression of sweetness, is what set them apart.

Bertha's Revenge, Irish Milk Gin

Made at Ballyvolane House in Cork and named after Bertha, a legendary, philoprogenitive cow.

“Nose dominated by cumin and curry, palate
is oily, spicy and rich, probably not for everyone but I like it.” (EJ)

“Intriguing nose, good strong entry on palate, layers of citrus flavour, nutmeg and cinnamon.” (MM)

“Cumin comes through strongly and dominates the other botanicals, will divide opinion.” (RB)

Drumshanbo, Gunpowder Irish Gin

The ‘Gunpowder’ refers to tea, one of the botanicals used here, and not to any explosive property of this gin.

“Juniper and camphor on the nose, lovely freshness on the palate, well balanced, could drink this over ice.” (EJ)

“A tad sour on the nose, the palate is more mainstream, well integrated spirit, mint notes, safe.” (MM)

“Exotic sweet spice on the nose carries onto the palate, clean and well composed, some fatness.” (RB)

Boatyard Double Gin

The ‘Double’ in the name refers to a double infusion process for the juniper, borrowed from the Dutch.

“Creamy texture, ripe soft fruits with good supporting alcohol, well balanced, would be good with elderflower cordial.” (EJ)

“Distinctive juniper
nose, smooth and very flavoursome palate, spices and herbs, finishing long and tasty.” (MM)

“Elegant and intense nose, good texture, succulent and rounded, no hard edges, deep and long, good stu .” (RB)

Blackwater, No 5 Irish Gin

Produced in Cappoquin on the River Blackwater, where the river makes a sweeping turn towards the sea.

“Rich, earthy and fragrant nose, rounded palate with soft texture, a lovely long finish, very well balanced.” (EJ)

“Very smooth palate and quite intriguing, with a lot of layered surprises – fennel and ginger – finishes long.” (MM)

“Exotic nose, lovely lift on the palate, well balanced, crisp character, good intensity and length.”(RB)

Echlinville, Irish Pot Still Gin

Produced on the Lecale Peninsula in Co Down and named after a Captain Charles Echlin.

“Punchy, earth and liquorice nose, aromatic, the earthy spice gives a lovely background to the classic juniper notes.” (EJ)

“Fresh, zippy minted nose, palate bone dry, mineral notes, a lot of structure, rounded and balanced, for a dry martini.” (MM)

“Fireworks on the nose, lots going on here, concentrated and firm, intense spice and fruit, good length.” (RB)

Learn how to make the perfect G&T here

For a delicious gin based cocktail, click here