Listoke 1777 is a small batch Irish gin produced in Co. Louth.
Price: ~ £31
Sadly there isn’t a great deal of information about Listoke distillery. Founded in a converted stable on the grounds of the Listoke estate, the distillery has since expanded to include Ireland’s only gin school, where members of the public can go for a gin making experience. I’m not 100% sure whether the distillery is still located there but what I can find is that the gin itself is made in small batches of 350L using an iStill and water from Boyne Valley. The company has ‘Origin Green’ status, an Irish programme for food and drink sustainability.
The bottle is a gorgeous green, topped with a gold screw cap, and is square in shape with embossed lines running down it, as well as the name of the gin itself on each side. Front and centre is a tall rectangular label bordered in what looks like copper foil, with a Barn Owl in flight spilling across it. The owl is apparently a nod to the owls that live in the stable building, and is painted in shades of green which look to be made up of leaves and botanicals. Above is the name of the gin and distillery logo (a geometrically shaped owl), and below is the small batch Irish gin statement, volume, ABV, and the phrase ‘Spioraid na beatha’ which I believe translates to ‘Spirit of Life’. On the back is a smaller label with the usual info on it. It’s a really lovely bottle and the green really helps it to stand out.
Right away, it’s clear this gin is a little different. I get strong, sweet, earthy and spiced notes from the cassia, which actually puts me in mind of a cinnamon and raisin oat cookie (which I love). Beneath that is a subtle orange and berry tone, which leads down a little further to the angelica and cardamom. It’s quite a cascade of aromas, starting with a sweet spice and ending with an earthy tang. Beneath it all, if you work hard, the juniper provides a solid base. It may not appeal to traditional gin fans, but I think it smells great, albeit very distinctly orange and cinnamon biscuit-y.
Neat, the juniper and orange are much stronger on the tongue, providing more of a classic gin flavour than the nose might suggest. There’s plenty of citrus, and cassia of course, but overall it’s not as sickly as on the nose. Earthy, slightly woody flavours come through well with a tang of cardamom working nicely with the orange and spice. I get floral notes too, though they are fairly indistinct beneath the other flavours. It’s sweet and bitter at the same time, and while I enjoy it, the flavour of cinnamon and orange dominates.
Water brings out a little more orange, and the jasmine becomes far more evident, working well with the rowan berries, but in my opinion slightly confusing the overall flavour profile somewhat. I can handle a spiced-orange gin, but the suggestion of jasmine does confuse the senses a little as it feels a touch discordant. It’s nice to experience some of the other flavours a little more distinctly, but so far a much prefer it neat.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic with a dried orange wheel to garnish). The result is nice but in my opinion a little strange purely due to the dry, woody flavour of the cinnamon, which comes through very strongly. In fact I wonder whether you might find a few people hard pushed to believe this is actually a G&T. For me it’s crisp and refreshing, with a subtle waxy background, some good levels of orange, and a hint of jasmine. But everything is laced with cinnamon/cassia and it’s tricky to get past that.
Listoke 1777 is another tricky one. I like everything in it, and from a technical point of view it’s well put together, but at the end of the day it’s the flavour that counts, and this just has way too much cassia for me. It may be wonderfully flavoured, fresh and dry cassia, but it. is. a. lot. Of course that’s going to appeal to some, which is great, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. This is a very contemporary gin, and in my opinion a niche one at that, so if you’re a massive cinnamon fan you’ll want to give it a go. If not, I’d recommend you try before you buy.
Add up to one feather if you love dry cinnamon flavours
Listoke 1777 is available online
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.