If you wish to get away from the St. Patrick’s Day staples of green beer, whiskey and Irish coffees, these days Ireland has a plethora of gins to offer. Most of these are an outgrowth of the Irish distillery-building boom; like the many craft distilleries in America, the new crop of Irish distillers has turned to gin as a brand-building product while they wait for their whiskeys to mature. These four gins are each distinctive in their own way, reflective of the Emerald Isle and the people who live there.
Bertha’s Revenge Irish Milk Gin
If you’re looking a proper yarn to tell, reach for a bottle of this stuff and tell them it’s (Scout’s honor here) gin made from milk. Named for a legendary County Kerry cow that lived to age 49, birthing many calves and getting into The Guinness Book of World Records in the process, it really is made from whey, the dairy byproduct of cheese-making. Special yeasts are used to ferment the milk sugars, which are then distilled in the usual way.
Dingle Original Gin
Before County Kerry’s Dingle Distillery was able to sell people its single malt and pot still whiskeys, they had this London Dry Gin. County Kerry is one of the most filmed places on earth, used as a setting in numerous films (whether they had anything to do with Ireland or not; it was used as Luke Skywalker’s retreat in The Last Jedi), and I’ve long thought the choice of botanicals spoke of the place: rowan berry harvested from the mountain ash trees, fuchsia, bog myrtle (which was used to flavor Irish beer before the advent of hops), hawthorn and heather.
Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin
Glendalough started by producing four batches of seasonal gin, based on true locavore fashion by harvesting the botanicals that were in-season in their namesake valley, in County Wicklow. These are things like alexander seeds, ground ivy, hawthorn berries, sage, rowan berries, rosehips and sloe berries. Although undeniably trendy, the seasonal concept had the problem of requiring bars using it to regularly update their cocktail menus. In 2017 they introduced their “all-season” Wild Botanical brand, which takes a more traditional base and mixes it with their original wild and local concept.
Ha’Penny Rhubarb Gin
Alltech puts a special twist on their Ha’Penny Dublin Dry Gin by including rhubarb. As anyone who has enjoyed a good slice of rhubarb pie or a helping of rhubarb crumble knows, that plant is refreshing stuff, and this rhubarb-influenced gin is at its best in pick-me-up summer drinks. Still, it’s offbeat enough to be worth a try in the very late winter weather of St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps paired with one of the aforementioned desserts.