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Social Gin

First there was Genever, the juniper-based national spirit of the Netherlands from which Gin gets its name.

Genever still exists today in young and old forms and is delicious unto itself. Gin first exploded in popularity during the Gin Craze in the first half of the 18th century, not because it was delicious, but rather it was affordable and accessible. Nowadays, and since the turn of the century, Gin has found new heights with spirits producers exploring and introducing more exciting and exotic flavours.

 

With Gin comes juniper, and is a must for gin to be… well gin. The most familiar and popular style is London Dry, with Juniper leading the charge and in the driver’s seat – a piney, tangy, and often a little citrusy style that most associate as the synonymous profile of modern gin. With the renewed interest and exploration of the category, producers began pushing the boundaries, with some producers even moving away from juniper to lead with other flavours.

Inevitably, with the coming of what is essentially Gin Craze part 2, other white spirit producers have turned to the enormous range of aromatic and flavourful botanicals and now you can find botanical vodkas, rums and even non-alcoholic beverages in your local off-license.

Defying the Category

 

So what other botanical spirits are out there and what’s new?

Well botanicals are nothing new to booze. In fact, the advent of botanical alcohol began as medicinal concoctions. The sex-glutted nobles of ancient Rome steeped their fruits and herbs in wine for restorative properties, and later the monks of the middle ages began using spirits instead of wine, sometimes using upwards of 130 herbs and spices! Some of these have stood the test of time, albeit modernly refined, like Benedictine and Chartreuse and even mulled wine and sangria.

We’re at a turning point where gin has re-exposed an appetite for botanical booze, but not necessarily the Juniper-led spirit we’ve all come to know and love. Now we have cross-category defying botanical spirits leading the charge. No/Low Alcohol botanical spirits, like our Give & Take, experimental koji spirits, botanical poitín, and exotic native spirits are just some of what we’re seeing today. 

Exciting times lie ahead for botanical boozers. It seems that juniper may have found a new place in the back seat but it’s gin we have to thank.

That’s all from me on Gin. Looking forward to seeing you all at Garden Sessions this Saturday to celebrate World Gin Day, where you can taste all of Stillgarden’s botanical and fruitful gins. You’ll even find a limited release gin made exclusively for the occasion!

 

Luke

 

Interested in making your own unique botanical spirt? Visit our Distilling Academy and design your own personal recipe with over 120 botanicals to choose from ranging from the traditional to the obscure. You’ll leave with a your own bottle of spirit (full strength but you can also make a low or no abv) distilled by you!

 

Social Botanists

Hi there, Connor here. I’m delighted to share that I’ve been promoted from Social Botanist and Friendly Neighbourhood Forager to the new Gardener in Residence here at Stillgarden. It’s been great to have more time to get involved with the Community Garden, get my hands covered in soil and meet some new social botanists so our delicious botanicals can flourish.

Social Botanists

Our Community Garden in Inchicore, Dublin 8 is filled with different species of cultivated and wild flowers, herbs and trees and is visited by a variety of pollinators and wildlife daily. Since we celebrated National Biodiversity Week last week, I thought I’d share with you what you can expect to see when you visit Stillgarden Distillery

 

The top of the garden by Tyrconnell Road remains a wildflower haven, making sure that there is plenty of choice for our pollinators beyond what we humans like in our drinks. Creeping Buttercup is a pretty flower, but unfortunately has an invasive root system that likes to dominate the more delicate roots of herbs. It is still important for pollination, so up here is where it can plantspread. Our Calendula, otherwise known as marigolds, are in sunny bloom, recognisable as large daisies that look like they’ve been stained orange. They’re surrounded by a delicate bed of Speedwell, which are small blue flowers from the Veronica genus. They make quite the couple.

We also have plenty of wild mustard, flowering brassicas and dandelion. Dandelion is often seen as a weed, but in addition to its roots being great for a yummy, caffeine-free coffee replacement, pollinators love the flowers too! Blowing the seeds away from a dandelion clock grants wishes (allegedly) and those tasty roots also greatly improve soil quality. What a team player!

 

In addition to providing a habitat for botanicals to grow in a former area of wasteland in Goldenbridge Industrial Estate, we also work with Clever Honey Ireland to provide a safe home for bees on the distillery’s rooftop. We have introduced the native black honey bee to the distillery grounds and love having them on site to help naturally pollinate the local area and our garden.

As a few of us were working away in the garden over the weekend, we were visited by a mason bee, a solitary but efficient pollinator. Along with bumblebees, hoverflies, our native black honey bee residents, and of course our social botanists, we have quite the team of pollinators hard at work.  Now’s the perfect time to visit our garden as we begin to plant what has been cultivated at home by our social botanists. Book your Garden Session now if you would like a guided garden tour along with a refreshing Stillgarden libation on our terrace afterward. 

If you have anything you’d like to contribute to our garden, we’d be delighted to have you growing with us (and so will those happy bees)!

Your new Gardener in Residence, 

Connor

 

To learn more or sign up to become a Social Botanists click here. Don’t forget to keep up with the latest happenings in the Community Garden – follow our Social Botanists on Instagram and Facebook.

 

Of all of the botanicals used in Gin distillation few come with the infamy and in fact necessity of Coriander Seed. It has a contentious history from a mention in the Old Testament (great read if you haven’t got around to it) right the way through to being splayed across Billboards over the world as soapy, evil bullshit as a result of a bizarre genetic trait that some of us possess to pick up on aldehydes. Put simply, it is about as confusing a plant as the decision for Kanye West to run for American president.

What is Coriander?

For starters, the name itself is derived from its smell (apparently) rather than its medicinal value or flavour. Coming from the word Koros (insect) or Koriannon (bug) in Greek. At times we struggle to come up with names for products here in the distillery but this is really a stretch. What insect delights the nostrils with that citrus and spice heavy blend that is released when you crush a coriander seed because we want to try it.

Rare it is that you try a gin from anywhere in the world and it does not possess this humble seed, the staple of many of the world’s most famous London Dry styles alongside Juniper, the complexity and depth of its oils and esters are incredibly useful tool for highlighting citrus or rounding out savoury recipes.

To get a wee bit geeky about it the second major component of the seed is a thing called alpha-pinene which we spoke about before being heavily prominent in Juniper; making them excellent bedfellows. The vast majority of the rest of its structure is linalool (sometimes up to 70% it is a floral and spicy terpene alcohol. It is found in over 200 plants such as citrus fruits and lavender. Concentrations of linalool above 20 ppb have been shown to give a fruity hoppy aroma to beer) and also gamma-terpinene (about 10%) which gives that prominent and pleasing lemon-y flavour.

Coriander and Our Gin

Coriander

All of our gin at Stillgarden Distillery possess this plucky little botanical that could in some shape or fashion but none more so than our Distiller’s Edition which champions it alongside Juniper and Citrus peel for that slightly more traditional Gin feel and flavour and don’t worry, it’s not going to be like rinsing your mouth out with soap as often that really only comes from the leaf of the plant.

To set you at ease we found one of our Social Botanists Kate who has the aforementioned gene and asked for a quote. Don’t worry she didn’t even sign up to the newsletter so she won’t read this. We’ve even had her drink some of our products that contain Coriander and she didn’t notice but when brought face to face with a salad containing fresh leaves she said “this just tastes like soap.”

So fret not and don’t let a fear of aldehyde-laden gin prevent you from going softly into that good night.

All the best,

Al x

Neal in community garden
LATEST UPDATES FROM THE STILLGARDEN COMMUNITY GARDEN

Neal in community garden

Summer is almost over and we’re prepping the community garden in Inchicore for the autumn!  All of the crew at Stillgarden have been keeping themselves busy with our all new, all singing and dancing drinks. The botanicals in the garden provided us with the much needed inspiration for our new spirits. The EIGHT:01 mint cocktail and Early Harvest Vodka with rhubarb. They are available from our online shop or to buy in person from our Distillery here in Inchicore.

Early Harvest Rhubarb from GardenCocktails From the garden

We have welcomed two new staff to the team over the past month, Luke and Dave, both of whom have vast experience in the drinks industry and are thoroughly decent spuds indeed, it’s great to have them on board.

Having returned from a holiday break, its back to the gardening gloves and pruning shears for me. Weeds are a relentless foe and the battle is real. I’ve been attacking an invasive chancer called ‘Lambsquarters’ that has been trying to take over the garden, but was no match for the first Cromags album in my earbuds, and the cavalier wielding of my trowel of destruction.

weeds in the garden

Last week, Luke accompanied a hardy bunch of our social Botanists on a foraging hunt around Blackhorse Park to seek out fruits and plants to be used in the distilling process. The driving rain didn’t discourage, and they returned after a few hours with bags full of wonderful ingredients and a few nettle stings. We will be continuing these trips over the next months and hope to see some more of you there.

In the next few weeks we will be preparing for the autumn and charting out the garden for next year. Autumn is the time to root, temperatures cool and top growth slows, ideal conditions for fruit trees and roses. I will keep an area specifically with our social botanists in mind.  I’ll fill the bare
areas with a perennial that will provide colour and coverage to these spots.

In music related news, the TV show ‘Mythbusters’ recently carried out a test on plants to see how they reacted to sound and if different genres had an effect. Sadly metal and punk don’t seem to increase germination or seeding more than pop music or jazz. It turns out that flowers are not music
snobs like myself, and respond to all sounds equally.

Anyway, as always, stay well, stay safe and most importantly keep rockin’.

Neal

Strawberry beds

A social project creating a vibrant community botanical garden right in Dublin city.

Hi everyone, I’m Neal from Stillgarden Distillery in Inchicore. I am also a member of this community so introducing this project to you is really inspiring. Firstly, I hope that you are all doing well in these challenging times.

Strawberry plant in community garden.

On a brighter note we recently started an initiative which you might find fantastically interesting.  We’re aiming to turn even the most inexperienced of gardeners into green fingered sultans of soil! Why? We want to embrace the community into our exciting new Stillgarden social project. 

I’ve been extremely busy working in the new garden at the entrance to the Goldenbridge Estate, turning a previously shabby approach to our new Distillery and visitors centre into a feast for the eyes.  

I’ve spent a number of enjoyable mornings removing bags of rubbish, including TV’s and fire extinguishers, and the overgrown shrub. Once removed it revealed the wonderful Camac River, meandering lazily beneath the newly planted top soil. 

Additional planting of apple trees, strawberries, wildflowers and Lucky fruit will enhance the area, and help in the pollination that we hope will be boosted with the arrival of our bee hives.

We’re also encouraging the growing of botanicals at home and our team has shown truly amazing results as the weather has been perfect for hydroponics. The Social Botanists have really thrived and anyone can join them! You don’t just have to take my word for it you can see the results for yourself on Instagram.

There will be an area in the garden for plants may have outgrown the hydroponic planters! Eventually the journey from ground to glass will be literally all of fifty feet…

I will be updating each week on the progress of the garden, and the fantastic work that you have all undertaken, so for now, stay safe, stay busy and most importantly, keep rockin….

Neal