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Review

Knockeen Hills
Elderflower Gin

Distillery

Alan Stibbe of Knockeen Hills Spirits (UK) Ltd., Canterbury, Kent (made by Thames Distillers Ltd., Clapham, London), England, UK.

Website

Elderflower Gin.

History

Knockeen Hills was originally established in 1997 by Alan Stibbe and is better known for producing Poteen (a form of Irish Moonshine). They were granted European Union “Geographical Indicative” status in 2007, meaning it can only be made in the Geographical area of Ireland for it to be called Poteen. This Gin uses the same base spirit as the Poteen and was launched in 2010.

Thames Distillers is run by Charles Maxwell who is the 8th generation of the family (founders of the Finsbury Distillery) who have been producing Gin since 1700 – making them the oldest unbroken lineage in Gin distillation.

Production

Imported from Ireland, the base spirit is made unusually from Irish Whey (as used in their Irish Poteen production) and distilled 5 times. The botanicals are steeped for a minimum of 24 hours prior to the last distillation.

The Gin is presented in a tall long necked rectangular bottle, tapering from the base up to the square broad shoulders. The long white label has black and light green colored writing with a light green block image of elderberry bushes at the bottom. Knockeen Hills have a strong environmental approach with the bottle specially chosen for its ability to be recycled within the home for other liquids e.g. oil, salad dressing, bath oil etc. To this end replacement cork stoppers may be purchased for $1 and a self-addressed stamped envelope from Knockeen Hill Spirits (UK) Ltd., PO Box 340, Canterbury, Kent CT4 5GD.

Category

London Cut Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

43% (86 Proof) since 2011, it was previously issued at 47.3% (the same strength as its older sibling, Heather Gin).

Price Range

$$$$. Limited availability in the USA. Try online at: Westchester Wine Warehouse or Andrew’s Wine Cellar.

It can also be obtained from Master of Malt in the UK or Celtic Whiskey Shop in Ireland but be prepared to pay an additional 50% for shipping.

Botanicals

Made with 4 natural organic botanicals: coriander seed, elderflower, juniper berries and liquorice (powdered and possibly not organic).

Name

Knockeen is a small village about 5 miles to the South West of Waterford, Waterford County, Ireland. Small hills surround the village; most particular is one called “Sugar Loaf” found approximately 2 miles to the South East. The base spirit is made in this area hence the name “Knockeen Hills”.

At Knockeen is a Megalithic Dolmen, a single-chamber tomb or tomb portal. Dolmen, dating 3 to 4,000 years old, can be found in Korea, India and Europe, with Ireland having a notable few. They are made of large upright stones (usually 3 or more) with 1 or more large flat stones (called tables) across the top. Pictures of this Dolmen at Knockeen can be purchased from Art.com and Amazon.


Tasting Notes

On the nose is juniper with light floral (elderflower) notes. On the palate this medium-bodied creamy and oily spirit has juniper, lemon citrus (coriander) and a clear but delicate elderflower taste with faint herbal, spice and bitter notes. On the close is a long strongly dry and smooth finish.

Whilst we haven’t tasted the original offering at 47.3% ABV, we understand the alcohol was more prevalent with a strong taste of liquorice - making it slightly sweeter and less rounded. Aaron Knoll at the Gin is in gave an excellent and enlightening review on this, which we think is worth checking out. 

The Irish Whey base provides a nice smoothness and despite the low number of botanicals it tastes like a traditional Gin, albeit with a light elderflower flavor. However, like their Heather Gin, this is not a flavoured Gin, the elderflower provides more of a general note in the overall composition. This is exemplified in a Gin and Tonic; there is a strong pleasing dryness with a floral elderflower taste in the background. This is a similar story in a Martini where the elderflower taste is there but it is quite dry as a Gin, with the herbs in the Vermouth complimenting the drink well. Gin lovers might try a “wetter” version and switch the olive garnish for a lemon twist. Both of these drinks do take a detour for traditionalists and may take a little getting used to. However, we really liked this in an Aviation cocktail. This Gin is similar to Zephyr Black, but if you are looking for more of an elderflower taste, you might like its sibling Zephyr Blu.

Awards & Accolades

85 Points, Beverage Testing Institute (47.3% ABV).

Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirits Competition, 2011 (43% ABV).

Bronze Medal, International Wine and Spirits Competition, 2010 (47.3% ABV)



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