In recent years, Northern Ireland has become increasingly popular for its growing collection of locally distilled gins.
Gin is a much-loved spirit that has evolved spectacularly over time. Northern Irish gin in particular has been paving the way with its unique flavour combinations, origin stories and production techniques.
If you’re a gin lover visiting Northern Ireland – there’s plenty of places you can go to try the extensive gins it has to offer. In this blog, we will walk you through a few of our top favourites.
Copeland Distillery is located in the quaint harbour town of Donaghadee, County Down. Nestled a mere stone’s throw away from the water and scenic views of the Copeland Islands – there’s no wonder it is named after its beautiful surroundings.
Housed in the newly revitalised former cinema and Ards bottling company site – which lay dormant for over 20 years – the Copeland team brought it to life in 2016 when they successfully raised £30,000 from crowdfunding.
The distillery is where the team produce award-winning classic Irish and navy strength gins, a rum range and a new collection of malt and pot-still whiskey, which are currently in the process of maturing in preparation for release in 2024.
Copeland Distillery offers a variety of different things for its visitors to do. Whether it be taking advantage of a distillery tour, learning more about the range of spirits – or just relaxing in the brand new coffee shop.
Copeland’s portfolio of coastal inspired gins provides another reason to make a trip to the distillery. To name a few, visitors can enjoy their Traditional Irish gin, Raspberry and Mint gin, Rhuberry gin, Sir Samuel Kelly gin and Jones 1778 Navy Strength gin.
The distillery is open seven days a week, with a full visitor centre and guided tours available for bookings and walk-ins.
Belfast Artisan Gin School
Belfast Artisan Gin School is a distillery situated in North Belfast. The School is unique as it offers the opportunity to create a Belfast-distilled gin with your own personal twist. Whether you’re a gin expert or novice – you can enjoy getting inventive in the traditional family-owned pub in which the School is set.
There are many experiences for visitors to partake in when visiting the Gin School. It offers everything from individual to shared experiences, where visitors are guided through the full beginning-to-end process of gin making. During the experience, you choose your botanicals, refine your recipe, distill, taste, bottle and label your own signature blend, full-sized bottle of gin for you to enjoy with others at home.
The School has previously done seasonal experiences with a ‘High Spirits’ Halloween and ‘Gin-gle Bell’ Christmas spins that usually involve fancy dress and specially themed cocktails on the night.
Belfast Artisan Distillery is also well-known for its eclectic range of specially distilled spirits which you can taste and purchase at the school. Its flavour portfolio is very impressive, with combinations including:
- Pineapple and Blood Orange Gin Liqueur
- Raspberry and Elderflower Gin Liqueur
- Irish Potato and Charcoal Vodka
- Belfast Artisan Distillery Premium London Dry Gin
To book a gin lesson, you can do so through the website.
The Echlinville Distillery in Newtownards is Ireland’s first farm distillery. Here, you can uncover how they craft award-winning Irish whiskey, gin and poitín from beginning to end, right in the heart of County Down.
At the distillery, you can gain first-hand insights into the inner workings of a family-run farm distillery. Its ‘Tour and Tipple’ experience offers refreshments at the historic Echlinville Manor House, and provides a detailed account of the intricate process of how the spirits are created from ground to grass.
There’s also the afternoon tea experience – a unique opportunity not offered by any other distillery in Northern Ireland. Here, you can enjoy a delectable afternoon tea in the beautiful Echlinville ballroom after your tour. The tea includes a selection of the finest locally sourced savoury and sweet treats, accompanied signature serves and cocktails to compliment.
To enquire about tours, you can get in touch with the team via the website.
Shortcross Gin and Whiskey Distillery
Probably one of the best-known gins in Northern Ireland, Shortcross is made in the Rademon Estate Distillery, Downpatrick.
The world-class gin was created by husband and wife team David and Fiona Boyd-Armstrong, who had a vision of re-defining what an Irish gin should and could be. As a result of their venture, Shortcross became Northern Ireland’s first ever craft gin.
From it started in 2012, Shortcross has perfected a wide array of flavours to choose from, including:
- Shortcross Citrus Drizzle
- New Cask Aged Shortcross Gin
- Shortcross Classic Gin
- Rosie’s Garden Pink Gin
- Plus a range of premixed cocktails available in their Bartender Cocktail Box
The Shortcross team are also very dedicated to hosting regular events so that visitors from near and far can experience their gin in different ways. Some events that have been held in the past and are coming soon include:
- Virtual Cocktail Evening
- Outdoor Gin and Yoga Experience
- Gin and Jazz Sunday
- Shortcross Supper Club
- Wreath Workshop and Cocktails
- Discovery Tour
- Tasting Tour
- Private Distillery Cocktail Masterclass (for up to 10 people)
To find out more, visit Shortcross’s official website.
Self-Catering Accommodation in Northern Ireland
Both accommodations are either closeby or a short commute to these unique distilleries. If you’re staying in The Annex (Comber) and appreciate a good gin, then you can easily journey to the likes of Shortcross, Echlinville and Copeland in under 30 minutes.
If you’re staying in Ninety Seven (Holywood), then you have the whole of Belfast right on your doorstep, with Belfast Artisan Gin School just over 15 minutes away.
Whether you’re wanting to get a taste of Northern Irish gin or soak up the fascinating history – Coach Road Cottages are the perfect place to unwind and enjoy everything County Down has to offer.