It’s no secret that Ireland produces some well-known and delicious drinks: the Emerald Isle is of course known for its whiskey, poitín and stout. But another spirit has been creeping up, ready to take the limelight. The Irish gin market has exploded in the past few years, and the country now has more than 70 brands and 37 gin distilleries, according to figures by Drinks Ireland. But it’s fair to say the craze is developing both north and south of the border, with distilleries cropping up from Donaghadee to Dingle.
Starting in the north, Donaghadee’s Copeland Distillery Irish Gin came out on top in this year’s IWSC judging of Irish gin, with a very impressive 99 points. Judges praised the contemporary gin for its ‘aromatic and elegant nose with notes of fresh pine and florals, leading to sweet berry and botanical flavours.’ Another award-winning entry from the County Down distillery that’s quite different in style was the Kentucky bourbon cask-aged Jones 1778 Navy Strength Gin, named in honour of US Navy Captain John Paul Jones and his victory in the battle of the Copelands. The 90-point scoring gin won judges over with its silky texture and floral botanicals.
Moving south, Ahascragh Distillers in County Galway’s Ballinasloe is another innovative gin to pick up a Gold medal. The distillery’s Xin Gin scored 95 points for its alluring nose with a light dusting of cinnamon and excellent depth and complexity. The gin’s distinctive – and not particularly Irish – name comes from the founders’ many years living in Asia, and means ‘heart’ or ‘feelings’ in Mandarin.
All the gins at this year’s IWSC were judged blind by an expert panel, featuring Beefeater master distiller Desmond Payne MBE, head of new product development at Atom Labs Rosie Milsom and Bombay Sapphire’s Eiméar Duggan.
As the world of gin continues to grow, with huge variety and diversity on offer, get going with this list of six of the best Irish gins from the IWSC 2022.
HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE SPIRITS?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous spirits tasting process. That means that each spirit sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC spirit judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
HOW DO WE SCORE THESE SPIRITS?
Only the best spirits sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
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