As part of its sustainability drive this June, Glendalough Distillery is sharing its expansive local knowledge of Wicklow’s natural forests and valleys. You’re invited to join one of the world’s only full-time foragers, Geraldine Kavanagh, to explore the rich landscape and learn, amongst other things, where and how the botanicals are selected and harvested sustainably.
Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin is thoughtfully crafted from wild flora foraged in the mountains surrounding the distillery, giving you a taste of the wild Wicklow mountains. Foraging with Geraldine sounds like a gorgeous way to spend three hours, wandering the wild and learning about Ireland’s native plants in their natural habitats. Spaces are free but limited if you’re interested, you can register here.
Geraldine devotes several hours each day to walking Wicklow’s landscape to find the most flavourful botanicals possible. “We take a lot of care that we don’t adversely affect the areas we find them in. That means sometimes using scissors rather than picking to make sure roots aren’t pulled, or maybe skipping a few before picking the next one, or finding different patches of the same plant, to make sure an area isn’t over-foraged. Our aim is to leave no trace that we were ever there. It’s harder work, but worth it to keep the mountains beautiful and wild.”
Glendalough Distillery has always been very careful to look after the place it calls home, whether it’s foraging wild botanicals in a way that promotes regeneration, or planting trees in the surrounding mountains as part of their Pot Still Whiskey cask programme. It was, in fact, named Sustainable Distillery of the year 2021 earlier this year in Whisky Magazine’s “Icons of Whisky” awards.
Picked daily, the wild botanicals go fresh (never dried) to the distillery within hours of foraging. They are carefully chosen to capture a time and place in Co. Wicklow, and are painstakingly slow-distilled in very small batches to tease out delicate flavours. Some go in the pot, and some are hung in a basket to let vapours extract their essential oils. The cut-points are decided batch by batch, by smell and taste, as if each batch is the first.
The layers of flavour and nuances in taste come from classic gin botanicals like juniper and coriander, but also fresh wild Wicklow botanicals picked throughout the year, such as pine shoots, watermint, elderflower, wild rose petals, mountain heather flowers, fraughan berries (wild blueberries) and sloe berries. On the nose, the gin has fresh spring notes with juniper, citrus and pine, a forest clearing in bloom. The taste is cool and mellow at first, rushing to nectarous summer flowers and hints of autumn fruits finally giving way to warm winter spices.
RRP for Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin is €37. It is available in Tesco, SuperValu, O’Briens, Celtic Whiskey Shop, Carryout, Molloys, independent off licences and on the Glendalough Distillery website.