Although whisky is our first love, we’re also partial to a good gin and it’s an exciting time given the number of new gin expressions which have been released in the last year or so.
Gleann Mor have been independently bottling cask strength single malt whiskies for their ‘Rare Find’ range since 2014 and have used that experience to produce Firkin Gin. The ‘USP’ of Firkin Gin is that it is matured in American Oak for 3 months to create something quite different for the gin market.
A Firkin is a small cask, also known as a ‘Quarter Cask’ and has a capacity of around 40 litres. Using such a small vessel enables faster maturation since the oak is in closer contact with the wood, however the downside is that only a small amount can be produced in each batch. Batch #1 of Firkin Gin is limited to 100 bottles and the Firkin is the reason why!
The launch was structured as a food-pairing event, with Firkin Gin-based cocktails created to match each course which was served. After receiving a welcome ‘F&T’ (Firkin & Tonic) on arrival there was a bit of time for mingling, then we were seated and Annabel Meikle introduced the Firkin Gin.
At this point we were given a sample of the neat spirit to try and this was one I really enjoyed; it’s clearly a gin, but the virgin oak cask has a huge influence on it.
Aside from the darker colour due to the oak cask, the typical gin citrus flavours are complimented (and balanced) by sweeter toffee / sugar notes; it reminded me of a Lemon Bon-Bon and is very drinkable, even at the full-strength 46%.
Our first course was Firkin Gin Cured Sea Trout and paired with a ‘Revisited Champagne Cocktail’ (i.e a Champagne Cocktail made with Firkin Gin in place of cognac). Both were excellent; the starter looked amazing and tasted better and the gin gave a great freshness to the champagne cocktail.
We were treated to Hake served with Risotto as the fish course, served with a Firkin Sweet and Sour cocktail. The drink had been designed to highlight the creaminess of the risotto along with the hake sweetness and was a great match for another delicious course.
The main course was a delicious Haunch of Venison with roast vegetables and a fondant potato, served with a Firkin Gin Negroni. I am a big fan of Negronis and this was one of the best I’d had – the homemade Vermouth balancing the gin beautifully.
The final course was a Tonka Bean Parfait with Dark Chocolate and Blood Orange Gel, served with a Pink Grapefruit cocktail. This dessert was a revelation; both for looking like an upmarket Tunnock’s teacake and for the amazing flavours of the sweet Tonka Bean, combined with bitter chocolate and sharp blood orange.
It would be easy for the cocktail to be pushed to the background however the pink grapefruit had the same great balance of sweet and sharpness and held its own well.
Overall a fantastic event and it was great to spent a little time with Derek Mair to hear his plans for the Firkin Gin in future. Batch #1 is almost sold out and I’m looking forward to trying Batch #2 which I believe will be matured in a slightly different cask for something different again.
Firkin Gin by Gleann Mor Spirits Company is available to buy now from their website. Also available in selected spirits specialists.