Review: Meet the Irish Gin (Yes, Gin) You Should Be Drinking This St. Paddy's Day

Glendalough's Wild Botanical Gin truly captures the essence of the Emerald Isle

Wild Botanical Gin
Glendalough's Wild Botanical Gin is crafted from foraged plants

Your previous St. Patrick’s Day celebrations probably involved lots of Irish whiskey and pints of light lager spiked with green food coloring. If you want to stay in that celebratory spirit but seriously elevate your drinking game, we’d suggest switching to something more Irish appropriate — like gin. 

Hear us out. The gin we’re speaking of arrives via Glendalough, an award-winning Irish whiskey brand. Based an hour south of Dublin, Glendalough is famed for its double-barrel program, which finds some of its hooch resting (or getting additional rest) in virgin Japanese mizunara wood, Irish oak and Oloroso sherry barrels. If this is your drink of choice on March 17th … well, it’s not cheap (the 25-year old single malt is just under $500), but it is exceptional and a lot more complex than your typical Jameson shot.

Glendalough’s gin, however, might be your more appropriate and affordable non-whiskey option. “When we set up a distillery, we needed to put something out and keep the lights on,” says founder Gary McLoughlin. “Back in 2014, I was reading the Irish Times, and I came across this article about this woman who brings people foraging and who makes all these tinctures and syrups from she finds. I thought, can we make a gin?”

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Collaborating with that forager, Geraldine Kavanagh, led to the creation of a line of foraged botanical gins. While successful, the seasonality of the releases — which featured different botanicals based on the time of year — meant quantity was limited. Thus, an all-year edition called Wild Botanical Gin was crafted.

Besides juniper and a few other non-native plants, Glendalough’s gin is still primarily about extracting flavors from the wild plants around the distillery. It’s presented challenges. “I’d never made gin before,” Kavanaugh admits, but her years of foraging and discovering different flavors and how the seasons change the botanicals helped her craft a truly excellent year-round gin. “For example, I discovered pine and firs go well with juniper, and something like a Douglas fir will taste like lemon or lime at one time of year, but  later on more like grapefruit.”

Using their gin, McLoughlin and Kavanaugh shared an excellent and simple recipe for us for St. Patrick’s Day that’s easy to make at home (where, admittedly, all of us should be this year). It has a natural green hue and truly captures the spirit and, well, flavor of Ireland. Bonus: That tag on the bottle? Also green in nature — there are usable wildflower seeds embedded in it.

The Irish Spring Cocktail

2.0 oz Wild Botanical Gin
.75 oz fresh lime juice
.75 oz simple syrup

Shake in a cocktail strainer, strain into a champagne-coup glass and garnish with mint. For a long version, build over ice in a highball glass and top with club soda.


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