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Review

Knockeen Hills
Heather Gin

Distillery

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

Website

Heather 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 2009.

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 pink colored writing with a pink block image of heather 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)

47.3% (95 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$. Limited availability in the USA. Try online at: Binny’s Beverage Depot. or Andrew’s Wine Cellar.

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

Botanicals

Made with 5 natural organic botanicals: angelica, coriander, heather, juniper berries and savory.

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 are juniper and lemon citrus (coriander) with hints of spice, herbs and a floral perfume. On the palate this creamy smooth lightly sweet spirit has dry juniper and spicy lemon citrus (coriander) with an earthy herbal grass/meadow and spicy pepper taste. On the close the lemon citrus and peppery spice continues with a return to the floral notes in a long dry finish. For such a simple recipe it has a lot of smooth refined complexity, proving to be a very well made Gin.

The Irish Whey base provides the smoothness whilst the botanicals make for a good traditional feel to this Gin. This is a pleasing Gin to taste neat and belies its high alcohol content of 47.3 % ABV. Also, don’t let the name trick you into thinking this is a flavoured Gin, you can taste the heather but it is more of a general note in the overall composition.  This makes a great Gin & Tonic, Knockeen Hills recommend using Fever Tree Tonic, and a slice of lemon as garnish, although many find the lemon slice unnecessary. Often aromatic floral/ herbal style Gins are overpowered in a G&T but this is far from the case here, it stands its ground remarkably well. In a Martini the dry juniper and citrus profile begins whilst the Vermouth matches well with the developing sweet floral aspects to make a very good complex and fresh drink. We haven’t tried this yet but we think it should compliment a pear flavor - perhaps a Gin soaked pear dessert or, for the adventurous mixologist, there should be a pear liqueur out there to experiment with!

This is not quite as juniper forward, and is quite soft, compared with many London Dry Gins but maintains a high level of versatility in a plethora of mixed dinks. It is an extremely well devised and delivered Gin, giving the ability for both Gin drinkers and non-Gin drinkers to be enticed to try this again, and again. We strongly recommend this Gin.

Awards & Accolades

92 Points, Beverage Testing Institute.

87 Points, Ultimate Spirits Challenge, 2012.

Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2011.

Silver Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2009.



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