Here at the edge of a lake in a shed in a small Irish town, the ordinary is made extraordinary. Within is the laboratory of PJ Rigney, boundary-pushing begetter of hand-made spirits who slow distills gin with nature's finest oriental botanicals and gunpowder tea.
Handcrafted through slow distillation in a gleaming medieval copper pot still fired by steam, Rigney expands on the production process for his gin: "Various oriental fresh citrus and leaves (gunpowder tea) are added into the 3 layer infusion basket, which lies in the vapour pathway between the still and the condenser. Steam is gently applied. The vapour rises through the unique shape of the medieval head, which allows maximum copper contact, which cleans and purifies the spirit. The vapour exits the still and passes into the infusion basket, where it gently extracts the oils and aromas from the citrus and tea. Boiling in the still would extract bitter compounds from these ingredients, whereas vapour infusion only extracts the aromatic oils. The vapour passes into the condenser and is condensed down into our gin at approx. 75%. We take an early cut so as to avoid any harshness that tends to come off further into the distillation. The gin is allowed to rest for a week, which allows the oils and alcohol to infuse and for flavour to develop. It is then diluted to 43% with filtered water and gently filtered for clarity."
The keynote here is 'Gunpowder Tea' (Camellia sinensishis) - a green tea that's been slowly dried then carefully rolled into shiny pellets. The flavour is bold and bright with a slight spicy freshness. Other botanicals include juniper, angelica, orris, caraway, coriander, meadowsweet, cardamom and star anise as well as vapour infused oriental lemon, lime and fresh grapefruit.
43% Alc./Vol.Intense aromas of blackpepper, lemon peel and juniper in the opening pass. Later inhalations detect hints of orris root, cinnamon and chamomile tea. Follows through with robust flavours of liquorice root, cardamom, background juniper and a warming, vibrant, peppery finish with late juniper and liquorice through the aftertaste. A flavourful, spicy style that will hold up to mixing.
"Delightfully fresh and rounded up front with citrus, juniper & spicy notes immediately evident. The expected Juniper follows close behind. Gunpowder Tea, meadowsweet & Coriander are all notable. The overall impression is of a very well balanced and surprising gin." 43% Alc./Vol.