Our visit to Northern Ireland’s first-ever gin distillery.
Located in the enchanting surroundings of Rademon Estate in County Down is the Shortcross Gin Distillery.
A novel idea by two locals, the concept was clear: to create Northern Ireland’s first-ever gin. Mission accomplished.
While the botanical gin has proceeded to dominate the market, arousing interest in gin-lovers and cocktail critics alike, Shortcross Gin is now bigger than ever.
As crowds flock to the distillery, which is now open to the public, we here at Ireland Before You Die had to see what all the fuss was about. Here’s what we found at the Shortcross Gin Distillery.
Shortcross Gin is the brainchild of County Down locals, Fiona and David Boyd Armstrong. Their journey started back in 2013 when they decided to invent Northern Ireland’s first and only gin distillery: Shortcross Gin.
Taking a pure leap of faith, Fiona and David – who were previously a quantity surveyor and missiles engineer, respectively – began their journey to becoming leading distillers in Ireland.
Since launching in 2014, Shortcross has gone from strength to strength, too. First established as a 3,000 square foot premise, the distillery now dominates 15,000 square foot complete with an impressive contemporary visitors’ centre and headquarters.
The distillery is located on Rademon Estate, not far from Belfast city. With a babbling brook running under a stone bridge upon arrival and towering trees of generations gone, this site is pure magic.
The grounds are ancient; in fact, it is one of the oldest estates in Ireland. Ripe with botanicals, Rademon Estate is a lush example of the wild Irish countryside and its vibrant and rich bounty – an element which is at the centre of Shortcross Gin’s identity.
Shortcross Gin is the star of the show at Rademon Estate. Utilising rare and curious botanicals – all foraged on the estate – it is safe to say Shortcross Gin is utterly unique, and no two bottles will ever be the exact same.
Ingredients such as wild clover, elderflowers, elderberries and apples which are all foraged on the land during the Summer months make up this inherently Irish gin.
In fact, Shortcross gin is the only gin in the entire world to use wild clover as a botanical.
Ingredients such as wild clover, elderflowers, elderberries and apples which are all foraged on the land during the Summer months make up this inherently Irish gin. In fact, Shortcross gin is the only gin in the entire world to use wild clover as a botanical.
The result of this symphony of flavours is a classic juniper gin with floral notes and a smooth, sweet, entirely drinkable taste. Gin-lover or not, Shortcross Gin is more than palatable.
A key element of Shortcross Gin which makes it so appealing is its holistic approach to production. Everything is kept close.
The founders are a husband-wife duo. The botanicals are foraged annually on site. The team manage the distillation, bottling, labelling and shipping. They even wax the tops of every single bottle – by hand!
And, this “all hands on deck” approach is inherent when visiting the distillery. You can quite literally see the love, care and commitment which has gone into this product – an effort which has clearly paid off.
Today, the distillery is open to visitors from the around the world, who are keen to learn a little more about Ireland’s preeminent gin, up close.
Short and sweet, the tour at Shortcross Gin is lead by Mark, the brand ambassador, and founders, Fiona and David Boyd Armstrong.
Expect fun and informative banter with the people who are genuinely behind a local product which has grown to a world-class standard. The space has been newly constructed with contemporary minimalism at its heart and is comfortable, classy and warm (even on a cold, Irish day!).
A sneak peek into the distillery offers an up-close experience with the copper stills and production machinery. The team are even in the midst of maturing Irish Whiskey which was first laid down in 2015.
A tasting tour ends the experience and of course, guests couldn’t leave without trying a gin and tonic, on the house. The branded Shortcross gin glass is even thrown in for good measure.
For those of you not driving, feel free to hang around in the state-of-the-art gin bar and try one of the original Shortcross gin cocktails or peruse the gift shop.
Overall, the Shortcross Gin distillery tour is a five-star experience; from the beautifully designed visitor centre to the authentic distillery experience; whether it is the people behind it or the product in question. Simply put, Shortcross Gin is well worth a visit – and a taste.
Information About The Shortcross Gin Distillery
Address: Church Rd, Crossgar, Downpatrick BT30 9HR
Phone: +44 (0)28 4483 0001
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