There are now at least 37 distilleries on the island of Ireland producing Irish gin via over 70 brands. The Irish Gin Strategy 2022-2026 from all-island trade body Drinks Ireland|Spirits details how Irish gin and gin itself has experienced a number of years of very fast growth here, where sales soared. For example, between 2014 and 2020 the category grew by 184% with sales approaching 340,000 nine-litre cases in 2019. But that ‘boom’ has slowed of late, with 2022 the first year that gin sales in Ireland declined to 316,000 cases as a direct result of the pandemic.
As the on-trade reopened and global travel recovers, gin has showed recovery and Drinks Ireland|Spirits’ new strategy details plans to drive strong and sustainable growth in the years ahead. According to the strategy report, “Forecasts for the next four-year period suggest that the growth in gin and Irish gin has not ended and while unlikely to be as strong as the 2014-20 period the category will continue to grow and the decline in 2020 will, in our view, come to be seen as a Covid-19-related blip”.
Gin grew by volume in Ireland by 7.7% last year and currently represents 14% of all spirits by volume here, down only very slightly from 2020 when gin’s market share was 14.1% according to IWSR data. In case you thought gin had peaked, IWSR forecast that theglobal gin category will grow by an annual rate of 11.4% between 2021 and 2025 with premium brands being the ones to drive the growth. We take a look at the Irish market for gin and the brands that are making waves this year.
Where time stands still
The Beara Peninsula is a wild and unspoiled area like no other. A place blessed with timeless beauty. Off the beaten track of the main tourist routes, the land has provided inspiration for poets, writers and musicians over thousands of years, where one canexperience, Beara Time.If you have ever visited the beautiful Beara peninsula you will have experienced the feeling of time standing still. The brush of the fresh and wild Atlantic air against the skin is a feeling like no other. The pace of life here is like nowhere else in the world. There is time to appreciate the scenery, time to hear nature in all her glory and time for the things that mean the most; family, creativity, good food and drink, music and conversation. The Power family “founders of Beara Distiller” had a dream to capture and bottle the essence of the area and so Beara Distillery was born. A deep knowledge of the peninsula meant they knew that spirits with the Beara name would need to be as special and unforgettable as the peninsula itself. The multi award winning Beara Ocean Gin paved the way and so began the journey to find a whiskey that would be worthy to carry the Beara name.. The blend of column distilled grain and triple distilled whiskey matured in charred and double charred American oak casks is what gives Beara whiskey its deep distinctive colour and rich flavour. On pouring Beara Whiskey you can get a taste for our beautiful land. It’s the next best thing to feeling that wild Atlantic breeze on your face and living in the moment…on Beara time.
The unique flavours of West Cork
Arguably Ireland’s favourite West Cork native, Graham Norton has his very own gin range including Graham Norton’s Own Irish Gin, Graham Norton’s Own Irish Pink Gin and Graham Norton’s Own Marmalade Gin all distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.
Following on from the success of Norton’s award-winning GN Wine range, the renowned TV presenter launched his own Irish Gin range which celebrates the beauty and unique flavours of West Cork.
Partnering with an Irish distillery was very important, and Graham decided to work with his West Cork neighbours – West Cork Distillers. West Cork Distillery is the most southerly located distillery on the Atlantic Archipelago – an area close to Graham’s West Cork retreat.
Norton’s gins’ celebrate the beauty and unique flavours of West Cork. Distilled and produced using 100% Irish grain Graham Norton’s Own Irish Gin and Graham Norton’s Own Irish Pink Gin draw its flavours from a combination of 12 botanicals including angelica, fuchsia flowers, orris roots, rose hip, basil and liquorice root – all of which contribute to a gin which is as unique as the man himself!
Following the success of Graham Norton’s Own Irish and Own Pink Gins, Norton wanted to produce a new citrus-based premium gin to add to his collection, but with a twist. Developed in collaboration with a marmalade producer and gin producer in Norton’s hometown of Cork. Graham Norton’s Own Marmalade Gin has delightful Seville Orange notes leaping out from the glass without disguising the other classic aromas from botanicals such as kaffir lime and juniper. The citrus twist of the marmalade creates a refreshingdrink that lingers in the mouth long after the last drop.
Gin is one of his favourite tipples, so he really wanted to put his own Norton-esque twist on one. Norton wanted something that spoke of the splendour and beauty of West Cork, its countryside and its unique botanicals. The bottle shape and design of both have great stand out and the gins speaks for themselves!
Refresh your senses
Just when life is feeling like it is incapable of surprise, you encounter an oasis of unexpected delight, that is Hendrick’s. It looks like a gin, but in reality, it is an escape to all things refreshingly curious, with undercurrents of crisp cucumber and wisps of rose. Every sip will refresh your senses and remind you that it’s always worthwhile to seek the unusual.Hendrick’s Gin is a super premium gin that’s made with a number of unusual twists to deliver a most curious drinking arrangement. Unlike ordinary gins, Hendrick’s Gin is distilled in Scotland in batches of only 500 litres at a time. Only Hendrick’s Gin is made with infusions of cucumber and rose petals, alongside a blend of 11 botanicals, to produce a wonderfully refreshing gin with a delightful floral aroma. Hendrick’s Gin is crafted using two utterly dissimilar stills, a rare Carterhead and an antique Bennett copper pot still, to create a divinely smooth gin that is simultaneously light and complex.
Hendrick’s is best served with tonic, ice and three thinly sliced cucumber rounds.
For further information, www.hendricksgin.com. Hendrick’s Gin is distributed by Richmond Marketing Limited in Ireland.
Masters of gin
Xin Gin has been awarded a Masters Medal at The Global Gin Masters 2023, the highest accolade in the competition. This is in addition to a host of recent wins for Xin Gin including a gold medal at The New York Spirits Competition and “Best in Ireland” at The Gin Guide Awards for the second year in a row.The judges of The Global Gin Masters praised the taste of Xin Gin for its “candied aniseed, coriander seed, backed by lemon oil. Lovely bright nose. Oily unctuous palate, more spice and lemon, a bit like lemon tart, and a long, citrus finish.”
Xin Gin creator, Michelle McAllister is extremely proud of Xin Gin’s accolades. The recipe is based on her passion for cooking using both Asian and Irish ingredients. Persimmon fruit adds a sweet honey flavour and cinnamon, a touch of spice. Xin Gin is silky smooth with a subtle kick to it. The company is delighted that the judges of so many prestigious awards recognise something special in their creation and feel honoured that Xin Gin is listed amongst the world’s best gins. n