But a lot else of what makes Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin so unusual isn’t spelled out on the bottle so clearly.
Style Notes: The label says “London Dry Gin” right on it, but I think in some sense that might be misleading— keep in mind London Dry is a process, not a flavor designation.
Production Notes: The gin is built on a rather unique base: Irish Whey. The base spirit is the same one Knockeen Hills uses for their Poteen as well as Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin.
Poteen is a traditional Irish vodka like spirit, made from potatoes, grain, fruits or as in this case— whey. Outlawed for several hundred years [not allowed to be made in Ireland until the 1980s!] it was best known as the moonshine of the Irish countryside. It is also traditionally very strong.
Nose: bright summer elderflower, surprisingly prominent juniper. And a bit of heat. Coming in at a respectable 47.3% ABV that note doesn’t seem out of place.
Palate: Licorice out of nowhere. It’s of the ilk of black jellybeans. Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin’s licorice notes fade, and you get a mid palate floral note without the usual sweetness of most elderflower gins.
Juniper, sharp stabbing in the middle. The finish is with a distinctive faintly citrusy spiciness [coriander likely] and a bit more licorice and flowers. The finish is enduring and a bit hot. Juniper notes and licorice continue to make themselves present long after the initial sip. In other words, quite interesting and quite unique.
Some might enjoy the notes neat or on the rocks, but I think this is a gin built for mixing. A little bit of sweet and the elderflower notes begin to shine. A little more citrus and the juniper starts to come out. I thought it made a good gin and tonic and it could work quite well in an Aviation. Very mixable, and the flavors tend to hold their own. The licorice notes do show often, so if you’re not into that you might be best advised to use cautiously, even if you love the flavor of elderflowers.
Overall, Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin
Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin is a more complex array of spices than a simply straightforward elderflower cordial. Ultimately the Elderflower comes through nicely, but the anise note might be the most divisive aspect.
International Gin Exchange 2013
Thanks to David over at Summer Fruit Cup for helping make this tasting possible. Because the bottles are small sample bottles, this review is not as thorough as my normal gin reviews. There’s only enough for some tasting neat and no more than one normal-sized cocktail. Although I do my best to give as full of a review as possible, complete with ratings, the tasting is not as complete as I would normally want to do. If a bottle enters into my possession, I will update this review with more tasting notes, and I reserve the right to update my rating accordingly.