Last October, I helped to organise London’s first Craft Distilling Expo in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. As part of this, I held spirits drop-in sessions with aspiring gin distillers to discuss their ideas and products one-on-one. One of my appointments was with a couple from Northern Ireland who were making Northern Ireland’s first craft gin. I was delighted to see the same couple, Fiona & David Boyd-Armstrong, when I held similar drop-in sessions at the recent ADI Conference in Seattle; this time, however, their gin was finished.
Shortcross Gin is made at the Rademon Estate Distillery near Downpatrick, south of Belfast in, Northern Ireland. With an NGS wheat spirit base, bottled at 46.0% ABV, the gin uses water drawn from the estate’s own well and a botanical mix that includes:
On its own
Nose: Rich and fruity, almost like a hedgerow in bloom with a mix of berries, leafy herbal and floral notes. This is followed by slight vanilla creaminess and citrus, reminding me of lemon shortbread.
Taste: Mouth-filling texture and pretty smooth for 46% ABV. Coriander and citrus upfront, followed by a little berry sweetness and then the more complex floral and herbal notes, part of which is from the clover; then juniper and angelica, mixed with spice, before a long, lingering, dry finish.
Gin & Tonic
Fragrant and herbal with lavender and heather, as well as bright citrus. A good, bold flavour that should stand up well to most tonics. There are also some complex flavours with a collection of floral and herbal notes, and juicy berry before a dry, crisp and refreshing finish.
A little inviting vanilla on the nose, leading you a lovely, clean Martini with a good level of botanical intensity. Some lovely, fresh, leafy, green herbal notes, as well as a touch of sweet spice and a dry citrus finish.
This is an earthy and bitter Negroni, with plenty of gentian and dark chocolate flavours on the finish. Despite the strong Campari flavours, the gin’s character is still discernable, thanks in part to the strength (46% ABV), providing dry flavours of juniper and angelica with floral, spice and herbal notes, too.
Shortcross Gin is one of those spirits that is simply a pleasure to review; each drink was delicious and revealed different aspects of the gin’s character. I like that the signature botanicals are discernible, but not overpowering, and that they work well with the more classic ingredients. I liked all of the drinks that I tried, but, on balance, I have to say that the Gin & Tonic was my favourite.
Ireland have started off their 21st century gin distilling in fine style.