Q: What is more summery than strawberries?
A: Blackwater Wexford Strawberry Gin!
Blackwater is a micro-distillery on the banks of the Blackwater River in West Waterford, Ireland run by ex-TV peeps Peter Mulryan and Kieran Curtin where in true craft gin style “the only automated thing is the coffee grinder.” At Blackwater Distillery, they are clearly proud of their craft status and they only craft their gins with 100% Irish spirits.
Started in 2015 Blackwater Distillery is still going strong as a craft concern and they are about to start creating their first whisky in autumn 2018 with their move to a new distillery: the Still House in Ballyduff. But back to gin. Their first was Gin No.5, a gin that manages to walk the fine line between a traditional and a contemporary style gin.
Inspired by the trading history of the river that is now known for its salmon but was once a conduit for the import of exotic spices in Victorian times by White’s of Waterford, Peter and Kieran dug deep into local archives to source their botanicals. And all 12 of the botanicals which go into their gins came from these archives. Myrtle pepper is an unusual one which I’ve not encountered before.
But strawberry is the star of the show in this gin. And it doesn’t have to travel far to get to the distillery. From Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in fact. Launched in June 2016 Strawberry Gin was their 3rd expression. There are 5 to date. The strawberries are both distilled and infused. Blackwater did their market research and found that consumers expect their strawberry gin to be well, pink. Hence the infusion bit.
A tactile bottle always does it for me and this one certainly does with its hefty rectangular shape and the name of the distillery embossed down each side. It looks like a giant perfume bottle. The pale and interesting pink back map from 1844 of the Blackwater River in Waterford County is another clever detail as the pink of the map enhances the barely-there blush of the gin.
On the nose juniper, citrus and coriander with sweet strawberry in the background.
This is definitely gin. This gin one sings loud and proud of juniper. The juniper has a clean fruitiness combined with the fresh strawberry taste. There is a slightly floral element to this gin but this is counteracted by the spicy warmth of the roots.
The finish is medium and rather tasty. If you are looking for a sweet strawberry gin akin to a liqueur this gin isn’t it. Juniper purists, I suspect, will rather like it.
As we discovered from Peter at Junipalooza London 2018 the perfect serve for this gin is Sicilian lemon tonic, shredded basil, cracked black pepper and fresh strawberries.
Just writing about it has me reaching for my Copa glass.
Blackwater Wexford Strawberry Irish Gin is available online. If you struggle to get hold of a bottle then contact the friendly lot at Blackwater.