Elder Shee is a special edition from Fynoderee for Craft Gin Club’s June offering. A Manx Dry Gin from the Isle of Man, it features elderflower and pink grapefruit peel.
Price: ~ £36
Pink grapefruit peel
Dietary Info: Suitable for vegans
Paul and Tiffany Kerruish were inspired to create The Fynoderee Distillery on the Isle of Man when they learned of the Manx Wildlife Trust’s plan to re-introduce Juniper to the Island. The last native bush had sadly not survived its move from the top of Glen Auldyn in the north, to the Milntown Estate seventy years prior. This inspiration led to their discovery of the Manx folklore tale: ‘Kitty Kerruish and The Fynoderee’, the sad tale of a fairy prince’s love for a mortal woman that, like so many, ended in tragedy. Their shared surname with Kitty very much made it feel as though fate had stepped in, and from there the name and branding fell into place.
As keen gin drinkers, and in fact long time members of the Craft Gin Club, the pair began to feel it was time the island had its own small batch producer, however it is one thing to be inspired, and quite another to do! It was only years later when the couple met Gerard Macluskey, a consultant who had spent his entire adult life in the industry, and who had been involved in the development of Tanqueray Ten no less, that things really got moving. Always looking for the next challenge, Gerard decided to join Paul and Tiffany in setting up their distillery, keen as they were to take advantage of the island’s botanical landscape which they agreed was well suited to producing an original and high quality product using locally foraged ingredients. As the newly planted Juniper groves in Glen Auldyn will take up to 10 years to produce berries, the distillery imports its juniper for now, but they are committed to using Manx grown or locally foraged botanicals wherever possible.
With the knowledge that the gin would be released in June, it made sense for elderflower to be one of the star botanicals, especially as it grows all over the island. The name ‘Elder Shee’ (Shee being the Manx word for fairy) was invented by the couple based on the myth of fairies living in the roots of elder trees.
The bottle is a squat pharmacy/pothecary style with large dimple in the base, wide rounded shoulder and short neck with wooden stopper with a spiral engraved into it. There’s some nice embossed detail around the shoulder, in the fluid, fairy nouveau style to match the brand and label, which is a nicely shaped cut to match the image of woodland, greenery, and fairies. Flowing across the top is the name of the distillery with ‘manx dry gin’ above the name of this particular bottling ‘Elder Shee’ again written in the very celtic-nouveau style. Overlooking this is a green fairy, surrounded by trees and leaves. There’s plenty of detail, which CGC have kindly gone into in the magazine, which adds nicely to the story of the gin, and around one side is a little blurb about the gin and what’s in it. On the other side in information about the distillery, CGC and the usual info. The label was illustrated by local artist Julia Ashby Smyth, and overall I’m definitely a fan.
Citrus rises from the glass on a heady cloud of elderflower, smooth but with a pleasant tang at the end. The juniper is there, with fresh sour notes, and the grapefruit in particular comes through prominently. For me, there’s a herbal turn around the centre that takes me from the elderflower to the grapefruit, and I find it has a little sting in the tail too, with a nice sharp finish. It’s an interesting journey, from hazy florals, through soft herbs and round to a bitter citrus, all with a strong foundation from the juniper, coriander, and orris. It may not take me anywhere exotic, but it’s a lovely trip nonetheless.
Neat there’s a beautiful hit of juniper on the tongue, quickly followed by a fascinating duality of floral and bitter citrus, hitting the palate in tandem and almost splitting my tastebuds, each in demand for recognition. For me, it’s a bit like having two flavours that are difficult to reconcile, hitting at once. On one hand it’s an exciting sensation, but on the other I genuinely feel as though half my tongue is tasting one, and half the other. I like it though, and for my money it’s the grapefruit that wins out, leaving a nicely dry, bitter taste. I feel as though I get a lot less of the herbal tones here though.
Water brings out the lemon for me, which really starts to shine, though other tones enter slightly more bitter territory. I’m searching for the rosemary, but sadly it remains elusive to my tastes, however a deeper floral tone does come through, with heavier elderflower flavours and a good dose of orris. Overall I like it, but for me it’s less bright than when drunk neat.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic with dried grapefruit and cardamom to garnish). The result is wonderful. It’s harmonious, yet awash with different tastes: a hint of savoury, some sweet, plenty of dry, and a hit of bitter notes all working together to provide a very pleasant overall picture. Let it rest a little and despite the addition of the grapefruit as garnish, I actually get a much warmer, sweet fleshy taste along with more elderflower. It’s a bit like eating pink grapefruit sweetened with a little elderflower syrup, and it’s delicious!
Fynoderee’s Elder Shee is a fairly simple profile, done very well. I’d describe it as a citrus (grapefruit in particular) gin with a lovely dose of elderflower, and it works particularly well in a G&T. This strikes me as a versatile gin too, and I look forward to trying it in a Martini and Negroni in particular. Recommended.
Add half a feather if you’re a big grapefruit fan
Elder Shee is available online from July 2021
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.