Drumshanbo Gunpowder is an Irish gin made in Medieval copper pot stills, using an array of oriental botanicals with a few local ones.
Price: ~ £30 (50cl)
PJ Rigney is the name behind this gin. A curious man who wondered what a fusion of oriental and local Irish botanicals (with a few from places in between) would create when distilled into a gin. Locally sourced meadowsweet is mixed with citrus fruits, spices, and the star botanical: gunpowder tea, so named as the green tea leaves are slowly dried then rolled into small round pellets that resemble grains of gunpowder.
There’s not much that needs to be said about this particular bottle in my opinion. It’s utterly gorgeous, and for me at least, was one of the first super premium bottle designs I came across in my gin journey. It’s easily one of my favourite bottles.
First, the glass is a stunning aquamarine, shaped into a short (remember it’s only 50cl), round apothecary style with a deep shoulder and thin neck. The glass is embossed with vertical lines all the way round, with gaps for the labels, and the word ‘gunpowder’ is embossed twice around the shoulder. The front label is square with a lovely stamp style edging. In the centre is an illustrated jackalope, the logo of Drumshanbo, in mid-stride and wearing a crown. Beneath is the name of the gin and a brief description and down the right side is a series of hanzi (though what it says I’m not sure). On the back is a smaller label with the usual info and a little more about the distillery and gin. The finishing touch is a lovely textured label around the neck, and a beautiful tapered wooden stopper with a bronze collar stamped with the name of the gin. It’s stunning.
Bright juniper leaps from the glass with a crisp citrus edge that quickly warms and softens with the addition of the spices. It’s lovely and sweet, with a wonderfully balanced mixture of the citrus and spice, balanced by the meadowseet. The aroma undulates between crisp and soft, dry then mellow, and beneath all of this sits a strong foundation of tea. It has a silvery note to it, dry but flavoursome, with the bitter tannin aroma that’s quintessentially tea. Considering some of the stronger spice and citrus botanicals, the overall profile is well balanced, never straying too far towards any particular element.
Neat, the gin is smooth and soft with a bright flash of juniper that’s relatively short lived. Following on from that, the flavour is more herbal than expected with the grassier notes from the meadowsweet coming through strongly, along with a hint of caraway. There’s a nice depth of spice there too, with cardamom and anise adding a robust backdrop to the eventual appearance of some rich, bitter citrus. It’s heavier than the aroma suggests, but still well balanced albeit further towards the bitter, spiced end than bright, sweet citrus. Complex and flavourful would be how I would describe it.
Water brings out the sweeter elements wonderfully, giving it a new lease of life. Juniper makes a confident return, along with a heavy dose of floral, spiced citrus. In fact the water seems to bring everything to life, especially the spices which burst through with added sweetness and flavour. I think the coriander comes alive here too, with hints of orris. It’s the same but different, and even better.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic with a lemon wheel to garnish). The result it delicious, but surprising. My first note is absolutely that of the caraway, which is thankfully not so strong as to overpower, and actually works really well with the lemon. It’s a dry, slightly bitter G&T, but I would say that’s in a good way. It’s very refreshing, sharp and spiced, but more towards the bitter, nutty end than aromatic. The citrus is bitter, and I’m sorry to say that the flavours I was most enjoying before have very much receded to the background, if they’re noticeable at all. I still think it’s a very nice G&T, but it’s not what I had hoped it would be.
Gunpowder is a wonderfully complex but well balanced gin that makes a great tasting experience. Fans of a dry and slightly bitter G&T will love this, though I’m quite keen to try it with elderflower tonic (as suggested by the website) as I think the added sweetness and floral element could work really well to bring out the meadowsweet further. It can regularly be found on sale for around £25 and is definitely worth checking out!
Remove half a feather if you prefer sweeter, warmer flavours.
Drumshanbo Gunpowder gin is available online and in shops
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.