Beara Distillery – 9 reasons to fall in love with Beara Ocean Gin

There are some car journeys that are a pleasure to undertake. One of my favourites is heading out towards the stunning Beara Peninsula in West Cork. Stunning ocean views, rugged mountains and windblown fields dotted with weather worn animals and traditional farmsteads.

There are some car journeys that are a pleasure to undertake. One of my favourites is heading out towards the stunning Beara Peninsula in West Cork. Stunning ocean views, rugged mountains and windblown fields dotted with weather worn animals and traditional farmsteads.

The winding roads force you to slow down, enjoy the view; enjoy the journey. And I always do! Especially on the day when I was undertaking this enjoyable sojourn to pay a visit to Beara Distillery located in the picturesque fishing village of Castletownbere, where, they claim, the cure for everything is sea air and salt water

The distillery was set up by brother and sister John and Eileen Power. They wanted to create a gin that reflected their love of the sea. At his core, John is a fisherman taking on various roles in the fishing industry over the year. It is a special partnerships that has encapsulated huge hard work, work that has lead to success with Beara Ocean Gin.

As you may know, dear reader, I can be partial to a drop of gin and working on the basis that all research should be thorough, I can report with jollity that I have tasted a great deal of them, and a most fulfilling area of research it has been too. It’s a hard life, but someone has to do it.

You may also have noticed that Ireland, and the world in general, is in the midst of a gin revolution. However, not all gins are created equal and many times a gin can be easily forgotten especially where the basic necessity of creating a spirit that actually tastes nice and is a quality made product is often sacrificed in the rush to get it to market. But down in the wilds of West Cork, where the peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, this small distillery has created something that is truly special, delicious and memorable. Below are 9 reasons I love this gin, and why you should too:

1.       Smoothness

Beara Ocean Gin is distilled using milk whey sourced in West Cork. This isn’t to say that Beara Ocean Gin wasn’t the first to do this (that accolade would rest with Bertha’s Gin), but it does allow for a more rounded base into which the other distillates and aromatics can shine through. It also makes for a potent gin (43.3% ABV), but is one of those rare things: a vigorous gin that drinks perfectly well on its own, neat with maybe a cube of ice to keep it nice and cold.

2.       It tastes of the sea 

It is the underlying briny saltiness that really grabbed my attention with Beara Ocean Gin. Distillates made from Sugar Kelp and Atlantic Sea Salt give this gin a savoury edge, a refreshing change to the mostly intense floral, sweet or bitter gins pervading the market of late. Obviously the flavour of juniper is very present in the front of the mouth, but the lasting taste is one that is undeniably of the ocean.

3.       Hand foraged elements  

West Cork is an area that holds as its symbol the bright pink and purple fuchsia flower – a shrub that grows ubiquitously in the wild all across the region. When the gin was being designed, John and Eileen wanted to create a spirit that encapsulated a sense of place and in West Cork nothing does this more than embracing the fuchsia. They forage fuchsia flowers in the summer and make an aromatic distillate from its delicate petals. On my visit, I asked why the fuchsia didn’t turn the gin naturally pink, the answer being that the process strips the natural colour from the flower, but retains its aroma. Clever stuff.

Not only that, but on neighbouring Bere Island is the duo behind Irish Atlantic Sea Salt, a handcrafted sea salt harvested from the ocean waters around the Beara coastline. And lastly, Sugar Kelp is sustainably hand harvested from Ventry Harbour in Kerry (just across the invisible land border of Cork and Kerry). Distillates are made from these two locally curated ingredients also and give Beara Ocean Gin its distinct salty taste.

Between the fuchsia, sugar kelp and sea salt, John and Eileen have certainly fulfilled their brief to create a gin that is of its place.

4.       Traditional and modern distilling methods 

Beara Ocean Gin is made using two pot still methods: a traditional Muller copper still where every part of the distilling and blending process has to be closely watched, and an I-Still, a modern take on the traditional method that automates much of the process. When I asked Eileen which she prefers to work with her answer was the Muller, partly I guess because it requires that hands on approach that allows the distiller to feel very much part of the making process.

5.       Small batch, hand crafted

There is a fresh citrus burst to Ocean Beara Gin, a flavour that is made with real fruit. I know because on my visit, Eileen was busy peeling orange, lemon and lime fruits ready to go into the pot still. Bottling and labelling is all done by hand, and each bottle is batch numbered in pen, boxed and sent off into the world.

6.       Aromatics 

Altogether, there are 11 botanical elements and aromatics used in the crafting of this gin: sugar kelp, sea salt and fuchsia; juniper, citrus, cardamom, angelica and orris root all in a complex balance of flavours.

7.       Two is better than One  

A few months after the debut of the white gin came a limited edition pink gin in time for Valentines Day. The pink gin was flavoured with cranberries giving a tart element to the spirit along with a touch of rosewater to emphasise a more floral feminine touch. Such was its reception that Beara Distillery decided to extend the limited production run and looks as though it is here to stay!

8.       Award winning

Beara Ocean Gin was listed as one of the Top 5 Gin’s at the huge Gin Expo in Dublin earlier this month. Considering how vast the Irish gin market is, this is no mean feat. It was also the only Cork made gin to be in the Top 5.

9.       It’s available everywhere! 

Starting out on the Food Academy programme with Supervalu gave Beara Distillery retail access right at the beginning of their journey. Since then, their list of stockists keeps growing and growing such that they are now working with a distributor to keep up with the demand. Check out their website for a stockist near you:

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