Monday 17 June 2019

Toasting big plans as Jackford Irish Potato Gin hits the market

John and Orla Stafford with their brand new product Jackford Irish Potato Gin
John and Orla Stafford with their brand new product Jackford Irish Potato Gin

Pádraig Byrne

While people across the county are enjoying tucking into their new potatoes at dinner time, Stafford's Slaney Farms have found an alternative use for the humble spud and are embarking on an exciting new venture in the form of Jackford Irish Potato Gin. The new premium gin launched in the South East in recent months and is currently in the midst of a nationwide launch as well as having big plans for installing a state of the at distillery and visitor's centre at the current home of the 1798 Centre in Arnold's Cross.

The idea was simply born from looking at doing something different with the potatoes coming out of the ground at Slaney Farms in Tomnalossett near Enniscorthy, owner John Stafford explains.

'About three years ago, we decided to look at an alternative use for the potatoes we grown here,' he said. 'Initially we looked at making crisps, but having carried out quite a bit of market research we decided upon making gin here. We spent a couple of years researching it and developing the product with expert tasters and now we're delighted to take Jackford Potato Gin to the market and so far the reception has been absolutely brilliant.'

Orla Stafford, Head of Marketing with Jackford Potato Gin, explains what makes it different from other gins on the market. 'It's a premium gin and it's unique really,' she said. 'Most gins are made with grain. I think ours is the only one in Ireland made from potatoes, which gives it a much smoother taste. The emphasis is on flavour and it contains an array of over 13 classic and native Irish botanicals and it's a true gin lover's delight!'

This summer, Orla says they are encouraging people not just to support Wexford on the hurling field, but with their drinks choice as well and they're promoting a seasonal speciality of Jackford Gin, Poacher's Elderflower tonic and Wexford strawberries.

The launch is just the very start for John and Orla as well. Wexford County Council has already agreed to the sale of the 1798 Centre and John is hopeful that, pending planning permission, they can have a state of the art distillery complete with an interactive visitor centre situated at the Arnold's Cross site by next summer.

'The idea is that building will stay almost the same,' John explained. 'We'll fit the old building out with the distillery and then keep the visitors centre where people will be able to come and see how the gin is made and sample the product. It'll be a fully interactive experience and tour and we're hoping that we can attract quite a number of tourists to Enniscorthy. If everything goes to plan, we'd hope to move in next year and be open for next summer.'

The operation will most certainly carry an employment boost for the area as well, with John outlining that initially he would foresee the operation providing work for four to five people, with plans to create up to 20 jobs with the visitor centre eventually.

While the Stafford family have been farming potatoes in the South East for 300 years, this represents a new departure for them as they look to carve out their own niche in a competitive drinks market with something just a little bit different and they hope to be the toast of gin lovers right across the country.

Enniscorthy Guardian