Move Over, Irish Whisky: Irish Gin Is The Next Big Thing

Planning a trip to Ireland? Forget about the whiskey; it’s the Irish gin industry that’s booming. So much so that one distillery in Northern Ireland has just made its way across the pond to New York. The Boatyard Distillery is situated on the beautiful banks of Lough Erne, County Fermanagh, in North West Ireland. Boasting the title of the county’s first legal distillery since 1890, Boatyard’s story began in 2013, when founder, Joe McGirr, crafted plans for a distillery in his hometown of Enniskillen.

“Whilst in Scotland, Joe, who had a pedigree within the spirits business, had a dream to return to his native Fermanagh to set up a distillery. Move forward to 2016 and this dream became a reality when The Boatyard Distillery opened for business,” says commercial director Declan McGurk.

As for the name, the McGirr clan chose to build the distillery on a disused boatyard, which makes for a unique location as visitors can arrive just as easily by boat as they can by car. And now, those in the Big Apple can join in, too.

“From day one, Boatyard NYC has always been a dream,” says Ciarán Shannon, brand development manager of the landmark moment. “We started planning this move last year and partnered with Empire Merchants (which has roots dating back to Prohibition) some time ago, but things were delayed because of the pandemic. We decided we would be patient and wait for the right moment.”

According to Shannon, instead of taking a nationwide approach, Boatyard Distillery is treating each state like a country, and felt that New York was the perfect market and platform for the company’s future growth, beginning with the brand’s prized Double Gin.

“Boatyard Double Gin is very much our signature expression and the liquid we want on everybody’s lips,” says Shannon of the choice in spirit to ship overseas.

With the appointment of Michael Smoley as the U.S. market manager, his goal is to make Boatyard’s Double Gin as popular in Manhattan’s famed bars and restaurants as it is back home.

“New Yorkers constantly see trends come and go. My goal is to show New Yorkers, and then the rest of the country, that Boatyard is a brand worth latching onto,” says Smoley.

“This product of Ireland celebrates the local land with the addition of Sweet Gale from the McGirr family farm, which is used as a botanical in our gin recipe,” adds McGurk. “All other ingredients (juniper, coriander, licorice root, citrus, angelica, etc.) are 100 percent organic. We believe in being innovative, truly transparent, obsessed with quality and passionate about distillation.”

While the Irish gin industry has rocked the boat of Irish whiskey (pop into a shop in the Emerald Isle and you’ll find just as many gins being stocked as whiskey), Shannon won’t rule out Boatyard playing with the latter spirit.

“We will always be a gin distillery; that is our passion.”

So what are the best cocktails to make with Boatyard’s Double Gin? See for yourself here. Sláinte!

Boatyard Double Gin & Tonic
50ml Boatyard Double Gin
150ml Tonic Water
Grapefruit for garnish

Directions: Fill a highball glass to the top with cubed ice and pour the gin.
Slowly pour the tonic and add a grapefruit slice to garnish.

50ml Boatyard Double Gin
25ml Dry Vermouth
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Lemon coin, olive, pickled onion for garnish

Directions: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass/tin and stir with ice.
Strain into a chilled Martini glass and garnish as you prefer.

Pendennis Club
45ml Boatyard Double Gin
15ml Apricot Brandy
30ml Fresh Lime Juice
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
15ml Sugar Syrup (2:1)

Directions: Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake.
Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

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