England and Scotland are home to some of the biggest gin brands in the world. But what about that smaller island just off their western coast? Irish distillers have actually been busy churning out a variety of gins in recent years, including the Glendalough Distillery in County Wicklow, just south of Dublin. Their Wild Botanical Gin is made in the trendy “new wave” style and highlights a variety of botanicals found in the distillery’s backyard including heather, ox eye daisy, and watermint. According to the website, these local botanicals are sustainably foraged and used within hours of collection in the distillation process, some going into the still directly while others are put into the gin basket. Distilling is done in small batches without any automation. Clearly a lot of creativity and care is taken in production. And the result?
The nose on Glendalough’s Wild Botanical Gin is unlike most gins I’ve encountered. There’s the expected pine forest note from the juniper, but it never sharpens, staying soft and almost buttery. Despite a touch of lemondrop and lime zest, it remains consistently earthy with wet grass and muddled mint rounding out the aroma. The palate is initially a bit more traditional with a light, peppery heat and an early burst of sweet pine sap. As with the nose, there’s no juniper bite, and in short order almost no juniper trace at all. In its place is lemon squeeze and honeydew melon balanced with lightly floral notes and bright wintergreen.
Many so-called “new wave” gins try very hard to bury the juniper or distract from it. Glendalough instead achieves a unique balance of flavors, and while that nuance could perhaps use a few additional proof to stand up in a Gin and Tonic, it nevertheless rivals some of the better UK gins out there.
A- / $35 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]