We were very fortunate to meet the owner of Kinsale Spirit Company during a meet the makers event at the Irish Embassy in London earlier this year, who recently sent us a bottle of their Spanish Earl, Single Malt Irish Whiskey and a bottle of Kinsale Gin, both of which are reviewed in this feature.
One of the defining differentiators between independent producers and their national and international counterparts is their backstory.
With almost every artisan drinks company there is a unique story behind every company and product, which is frequently linked to a specific place, person or event.
It’s not just about bringing another product to market, but a desire to produce the finest drinks possible, using carefully sourced ingredients, which all contribute to the unique drinks that hand crafted producers work so hard to create.
In the case of the inspiration for Spanish Earl was Red Hugh O’Donnell – a chieftain from the north west of Ireland – one of the great Irish heroes. He led numerous battles against the armies of Elizabeth I and forged alliances with various Irish clans, including the O’Neills, a rival clan, to challenge English power in the country.
The subsequent ‘Nine Years War’ started well; the Irish were victorious in many battles and they successfully persuaded Spain’s King Philip III to send thousands of Spanish troops to help fight the English. However, when the Spanish arrived at the port of Kinsale the English were waiting and the Irish and Spanish forces were defeated.
The Irish army retreated and Red Hugh went to Spain to petition the Spanish king for more help, as the country was now under English rule. Red Hugh died in Spain following a suspected poisoning and is was buried in the Rioja region of Spain.
Fortunately, we can report that we did not have to battle with what is an exceptionally fine whiskey; the whiskey was enjoyed neat, over ice and with quality mixers, but by far our favourite option was simply over ice. From the first sip the triple-distilled and triple-casked, single malt whiskey was smooth, well-rounded and very easy drinking.
This is a whiskey that every venue should consider stocking because we feel that this would appeal to those who don’t see themselves as natural whiskey drinkers, but equally appeals to those whose drink of choice is whiskey.
The company’s Kinsale Gin, a London dry gin, was no less impressive.
Smoothness underpins the company’s philosophy and their juniper-forward gin was so well crafted that it was preferred as a sipping gin, both neat and over ice; it didn’t need the additional of a mixer, which you would only want to do to this gin if you wanted a longer drink.
For gin to be gin, and not vodka, juniper is the vital ingredient, but the Kinsale Spirit Company infused 21 botanicals to this unique gin, which are locally sourced in and around Kinsale and are also gathered seasonally.
The floral notes are brought in with meadowsweet, elderflower and elderberry, complemented with the zesty lemon verbena and lemon geranium to bring the tastebuds alive, underpinned with the all important juniper. The gin perfectly balances the sweetness of elderflower with the bitterness of juniper, which produces an exciting flavour profile and a truly memorable and super-smooth gin.
We were privileged to have been these fine spirits from Kinsale and we will be delighted to bring you details of every new product they develop.
For more information visit their website