The botanicals in Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin are foraged from the Wicklow mountains just south of Dublin, Ireland. This gin seeks to evoke the aroma, scent and feel of this part of Ireland. The botanicals are distilled as close as possible to being picked, and are separated into two groups: some botanicals are macerated before distillation; others are suspended in a basket and their flavors are imparted via vapor. This separating botanicals by their hardiness is becoming somewhat common among gin distillers who hope to preserve delicate top notes and prevent “cooking” delicate botanicals.
Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin features some somewhat unusual floral botanicals. The ox eye daisy is a common roadside weed stateside— even its Latin name a yawn at its quotidian character— Leucanthemum vulgare. When dried ox eye daisies are somewhat bitter and subtly sweetly floral.
And then there’s Watermint, which is a weedy, hardy plant with a mint-like character that grows in damp marshes all across Europe. It has a strong mint flavor, somewhat close to peppermint. Which by the way, did you know that peppermint is a hybrid of watermint and spearmint? Me neither. I guess we both learned something.
Now on to the gin.
A rich gently pine-forward nose. Perhaps more fir bud than straight-up juniper (though there is a touch of that in there, too). Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin continues to cool with hints of lemon balm, woodruff and fresh meadow. It is certainly evocative of a place. It smells fresh, like a grassland in bloom. Loving this nose.
The palate begins with some more traditional gin character at first. Juniper builds into a heavily floral mid-palate. A melange of fresh blooming flowers spreads across the palate: rose, woodruff, creamy honeysuckle, and rain-kissed leaves. The finish sees citrus emerge from the background, with some more herbaceous juniper, and a touch of spice. Cooling licorice crystallizes on the palate with overtones of menthol, ushering a long finish as Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin cools slowly.
There’s a lot happening in here. Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin seems to wear many hats at once. Juniper-notes, floral-notes and spice-notes come in seemingly three separate waves. The palate is distinctly green in character and I’d characterize it overall as incredibly plant-based. Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin is somewhere between the herbal world and the floral world.
I paired Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin with Fever Tree’s Mediterranean Tonic in a Gin and Tonic, and I found that it was so bright and herbal already it didn’t need the botanicals from the tonic water. I’d even go so far as suggesting you pair Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin with a classic tonic water to let the gin’s character shine.
The Martini was another high point. Though I think the intensely complex combination of a multi-floral gin with the multi-herbal Dry Vermouth might be overwhelming to some, if you sit back and resist the urge to identify and specific note, it’s a delirious experience. Recommended.
Otherwise, I found Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin to be a challenging mixer. The flavors are so bright that it can be the unexpected loudest note in some classic cocktails. There’s almost too much going on in the Aviation. The Tom Collins and Gimlet added a nice citrus counterpoint; however, the gin lost some of its brightness.
Given Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin’s bold botanical perspective, it works best with simple, clean, fresh ingredients. I feel like I’m suggesting a Gordon Ramsay approach to mixing with this gin. Pair it with soda (a Gin and Soda) or a fresh grapefruit juice (Salty Dog) and let the botanical sing.
I prefer it Neat and On The Rocks.
Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin is an intriguing floral/herbal contemporary styled gin that may be divisive. I think fans of contemporary styled gins— in particular ones like Martin Miller’s Gin or Hendrick’s— will find a lot to like about this one. Others may find it too challenging as a house pour to be their go-to.
If you buy Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin for it on its own or for what it does well, you’re in for a treat.