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Review: Midleton’s micro-distillery and Adare Manor have teamed up to produce a spicy but pricey fig gin

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The Adare Manor Garden Gin: Fig Edition

The Adare Manor Garden Gin: Fig Edition

The Adare Manor Garden Gin: Fig Edition

I went to five secondary schools and my favourite was undoubtedly Midleton College in Cork. Back in the 1980s, Midleton had a beautiful cricket pitch where I slowly learned the difference between a ‘googly’, a ‘Nelson’ and ‘silly mid off’. I’m afraid I was often the ‘rabbit’ or worst batsman on the team but I enjoyed fielding in the sun under the vast shadows cast by the towers of the neighbouring Midleton Distillery along with the occasional whiff of whiskey.

These days, the distillery belongs to French-owned Irish Distillers which established a micro-distillery on the site five years ago to drive experimentation much like the small distilleries you find in mainland Europe. That micro-distillery has recently created 2,000 bottles of a zesty, fresh gin using figs from Adare Manor in west Limerick.

Using figs that grow abundantly in Adare Manor’s beautiful gardens and 17 different botanicals including gorse, cardamom, orange and lemon, this really is a rather wonderful gin with a spicy, earthy taste that will be popular with anybody who likes figs. I tried it the other day with tonic water, ice and a fig and look forward to repeating the experiment several times over the summer.

Annoyingly, it is expensive at €95 a bottle and, even more annoyingly, it is difficult to buy. In fact, it can only be bought in Adare Manor or from the hotel’s website. Frankly, I hate this sort of thing and try to avoid mentioning drinks that are not widely available but I’m breaking this rule here because figs should always be celebrated and because I hope this is a sign of things to come in the Irish drinks industry.

Distilling is not difficult and it should be much more common in Ireland than it is. Normandy is dotted with orchards where an ever-diminishing number of owners are still allowed to distil Calvados in small batches. Many villages in eastern Europe have small family-owned distilleries making spirits out of plums, apples, pears or whatever fruit comes to hand. We should do the same.

Of course, there are some people who have been doing it for ages. Longueville House has been making splendid apple brandy for decades but Midleton’s venture with figs offers the hope of more distilleries across the country experimenting with Irish produce to create new, great Irish drinks. Just spare us the ‘exclusive’ nonsense. 

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