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Could Irish gin be the new Irish whiskey?

Ireland’s distillers are cashing in on the gin craze

Irish distillers are now turning their attention to gin.
Irish distillers are now turning their attention to gin.
Image: Facebook

A NEW GROUP of Irish distillers is looking to take advantage of the ever-growing market for gin, a drink which has undergone a spectacular revival in recent years.

In Ireland, pub sales of gin have increased by almost 32% over the past year and a whole host of new Irish gin brands are grappling to be part of the action.

So much so that the Irish Spirits Association has set up a separate group to help promote the drink here and maintain standards among Irish gin distillers.

The group met earlier this week and featured gin producers from each province of Ireland. They that the number one priority was to support the creation of a legally-recognised standard for Irish gin.

“People like ourselves want to protect the provenance and authenticity of our brand and ensure that the quality is reflected in other brands,” so says Pat Rigney, managing director of the The Shed Distillery in Leitrim.

The Shed Distillery has been in operation since 2014 and last year started producing gin after an initial focus on single malt whiskey.

Their operation sees the distillery use a Medieval copper pot to distill the liquid before it’s blended with oriental botanicals, Gunpowder tea and local ingredients to create its flavour.

Gunpowder Irish Gin is now sold in 12 countries and Rigney is targeting more, but he also wants to develop the wider Irish gin producing sector.

Rigney was elected chair of the new gin group and says their aim is to act in much the same way as the Irish Whiskey Association

“We do everything in a very interesting and special way and we want to make sure that other entrants into the market and the other people on the group have the objective as she, I want to make sure that if other people come in that they also ensure that they’re supporting that effort,” he explains.

PastedImage-30719 The gin is distilled in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim. Source: Facebook

Signs of the revival of gin from its previous reputation as “mother’s ruin” can be traced back about a decade when a number of UK distilleries began to focus on the drink.

Since that, the market has grown substantially with the UK market alone estimated to be worth €480 million in 2015. Continental Europe has also experience similar growth.

In Ireland, yearly bar sales of gin are at about €74 million but this is increasing year-on-year.

It’s tough to put figure on how much growth is there, but Rigney says there is space for significantly more.

“There’s more growth in it, over the next number of years,” he says.

“How much is hard to tell, but certainly there is more growth. It certainly could get towards maybe half the size of the vodka market, or half the size of the Irish whiskey market, so there’s a bit to go. But at the end of the day, there is a limit to what it can grow.”

Read: The future of gin is safe after shortage of key ingredient is prevented >

Read: People are going so crazy for gin that distillers are struggling to make it quick enough >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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