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A modern Irish gin that won't break the bank in the nicest bottle we've seen. What's not to like?
There are currently 24 bottles of gin for sale at the BCLS that are priced over $50 (including this sweetheart that checks in at a cool $126!)—that’s a far cry from just a few years ago, when you were hard-pressed to crack the $30 barrier. But as a general rule I don’t mind the price escalation as long as their is a correlation to quality ingredients—which really are what seperates gin from that other clear spirit—and a small batch mentality. I want to know that human hands have made my premium gin. That means that as much as I enjoy Hendrick’s, I’m not super keen on dropping $64 on one of their mass-produced offerings. I also want a sense of place. That doesn’t mean that every botanical was hand picked by the distiller, but I expect there to be a connection to where the gin is made.
I admit it’s a tall order, which makes this new offering from Glendalough such a find. For starters…the Irish, who doesn’t love ’em? The only other Irish gin widely available in our market is more expensive Gunpowder, which is pretty solid, but has such an exotic bouquet of botanicals (with heavy green tea notes) that Ireland is about the last place I’d guess it’s from. Contrast that with the Glendalough, who employ a full-time forager named Geraldine, who combs the countryside in County Wicklow for botanicals that represent the storied area and then they use them fresh, not dried. The gin actually started out with the distiller making four small-batch seasonal gins for summer, fall, winter and spring that were mostly consumed locally in and around Dublin but someone hit upon the idea of bringing some consistency to the highly artisanal process and this bottle is the result: they still make the seasonal gins in very small batches (under 250L) but they then blend them together to make this gin for all seasons (they should really consider licensing this Crowed House classic for an ad campaign).
All of which makes for a pretty unique gin. Not surprisingly, it’s fresh and green, with noticeably less heavy juniper and licorice than found in more mainstream gins. Instead there some lovely bounce from local watermint, a little pine-y and little brambly blackberry. Perfect for a G&T, highly interesting for a negroni and much less angry in a martini than Bombay (although there’s nothing wrong with the occasional angry martini).
Finally (phew!) two notes about the bottle. Firstly, it’s 750 mL, which bucks the insane trend of the more expensive the gin the more likely it to come in 700 mL (look at that BCL link above for the terrible proof). Secondly, it’s gorgeous, filled with textured raised glass designs evidently celebrating the process and botanicals. If I was still an undergrad, this would immediately become my nicest vase.
All this for $43? Now that’s grand.
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